A Stop That Changed A Career
Before the NBA
Brandon Jennings was a small scrawny, 6’1, 169 pound point guard at the prestigious basketball high school of Oak Hill Academy electrifying the world with his highlights in fact, Jennings’ Hoops Mixtape highlight video is one of the highest viewed videos on the Hoops Mixtape YouTube page. The world of Brandon Jennings seemed so full of promise that Jennings shocked the world and decided to skip college basketball and play overseas for a year before entering the NBA draft.
Intro to the NBA
Brandon was the number one ranked recruit but the decision to play overseas decreased his draft stock and so soon on draft night, Jennings found himself falling all the way to the tenth pick where he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks, a franchise that was in turmoil before and during Jennings tenure. Once drafted, expectations were all across the board and no one knew what to expect. Very early in his rookie season Jennings had a great start to his career with a 55 point game against at the time, a bad Warriors franchise. It would appear that the rookie would gain support and belief from fans and NBA executives but instead it divided the basketball world and it was that moment when Brandon Jennings became one of the most polarizing athletes in the NBA. His four-year Milwaukee tenure was full of inconsistent play one night good, the next night horrific and during this time the narrative started to form that Brandon Jennings was a selfish, shoot first point guard, locker room cancer, and coach killer.
The 2013 free agency
Entering free agency there was ramped speculation on what the Milwaukee Bucks would do with disgruntled point guard Brandon Jennings. The Milwaukee Bucks ultimately decided to start the rebuilding process and started to shop Brandon Jennings. The general manager of the Pistons at the time, Joe Dumars had just signed Josh Smith to an enormous contract and was looking to make a change at point guard because the team was frustrated with the lack of progress from young point guard Brandon Knight so then Jennings agrees to a sign and trade and signs a 3 year extension and is traded to Detroit for Brandon Knight.
New place same story
Immediately after the acquisition there was a very split response from the fans, some loved the trade and thought Jennings was the cornerstone of the franchise and others were dropping expletives all over the radio and Internet. Once again, Brandon Jennings found himself being a polarizing figure. The first season Jennings played just as inconsistent as he was in Milwaukee. Detroit was going through turmoil the coach Maurice Cheeks was fired halfway through the season and the interim coach was not competent at all. The narrative seemed cemented that Brandon Jennings would never change until Stan Van Gundy came into the picture
The Stan Van Gundy Effect
The Pistons hired Stan Van Gundy to be the head coach and for the first time in Brandon’s career he had something he never had before, stability. In the first season under Stan Van Gundy Brandon Jennings posted a career high in PER of 19.7 and true shooting percentage of 52% and posting overall All Star caliber numbers and most importantly he was emerging as franchise level point guard leading a team that seemed to be turning a corner. Then, tragedy struck in a game where the Pistons were down by 30 unnecessary contact led to a freak incident where he tore his Achilles and so the Pistons were forced to look elsewhere to acquire a franchise point guard and found Reggie Jackson which put the writing on the wall for the Jennings and Pistons era.
The Next Chapter
Brandon was playing the best basketball of his career and now, at age 26 Brandon Jennings has erased all negatives about his game, his assist stats have risen and he’s become know as a locker room clown and a hard worker. Brandon Jennings may have only spent less than 3 years in Detroit but this stop may have changed the arc of his career.
Featured image: (USATSI)