Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm  |  42 responses

Top 50: Brandon Jennings, 48

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Brendan Bowers / @BowersCLE

Brandon Jennings fell five spots from last season’s Top 50 ranking, but he appears ready to begin trending the other direction.

After first arriving on the NBA scene, expectations for Jennings went through the roof. His rookie campaign was highlighted by monumental performances—none bigger than hanging 55 on the board in game number seven.

But as his first season continued, those brilliant moments were eventually overshadowed by inconsistent play. Expectations for what Jennings could potentially become as a player began to slowly erode.

During that ‘09-10 season, Jennings failed to hit for double figure points in 27 percent of his games. In his second season, despite an injury that kept him out for 19 games, that number decreased to 22 percent.

Better, but still not what’s required of a franchise-caliber point guard.

This past season though, that consistency improved dramatically for Jennings. Despite the rigors of a condensed schedule, and the change associated with a blockbuster trade like the one that eventually paired him with Monta Ellis in the Milwaukee Bucks’ backcourt, Jennings reached double figure points in 89 percent of his games.

He started all 66 for the Bucks during the ‘11-12 season, and scored 10 points or more in 59 games. If you are going to be that guy your team relies on to put points on the board, you need to show up and the do that every single night. For the most part, Jennings did last season.

Now he needs to keep building in year four.

Those numbers he’ll need to build on were career bests in points at 19.1, as well as field-goal percentage at 42 percent. Jennings shot 39 percent and 37 percent, respectively, in each of his previous two seasons, finishing with 16.2 points in year two and 15.5 as a rookie.

More than improving statistically, however, Jennings also demonstrated a professional maturity that most people simply assumed he lacked. When Ellis came over from Golden State, there did end up being enough shots available for both of them because Jennings made himself a willing teammate.

His assist totals were better during the month of March while playing with Monta than they were in January, before he arrived. His field-goal percentage also increased. The Bucks made a late run at the eighth spot in the East because of it, and the team has a chance to be a Playoff team again this season.

Despite the incremental progress in year three though, Jennings is still in a precarious situation.

He’s only 23 years old, but like Tyreke Evans, he is a player perceived to be falling with respect to his status around the League. That’s why he only comes in at No. 48.

Part of that is fair, and part of that isn’t.

Jennings didn’t necessarily ask for comparisons to Allen Iverson when dropped 55, but at that moment the comparisons were inevitable. The flashes of brilliance were really there.

Unfortunately for Jennings, his inconsistency early on may have even overshadowed what he accomplished this past season. The progress he made wasn’t enough to shift public opinion.

He has an opportunity to re-direct all that right now.

If Jennings increases his scoring average, field-goal percentage, and assist totals by the same margins this season as he did last year, he’ll end up at 22 points and 6.2 assists per game on 45 percent shooting from the floor.

Maybe not Iverson-lite type numbers, but certainly much closer to what everyone initially expected.

Where should Brandon Jennings rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    I’m a little surprised to see that Brandon Jennings is falling. He had a pretty good year last season. He stayed healthy and is slowly improving on that FG%.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    once they got Monta Ellis, he was pedestrian at best. (& Monta as well – infact, they teamed up for net negative production)

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    he’s a PG and the most positive thing we can write about him is his consistent ability to score in double figures?…..He’s the worst player in the top 50 so far. But if he improves as much he did last season, as Brendan highlights, this will be a justifiable position. As of right now though, I don’t see how he is anywhere close to better than Greg Monroe. Or better than Tyreke Evans, hell he’s not even better than Reke was as a rookie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sajjatam Sajjatam Tp Kulsomboon

    The sad thing about Brandon Jennings is that no matter how well he plays, people will always bring up the double nickel game and talk about how much better he should have been..

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    Was it really that bad? I mean, at least Jennnings was still putting up 20 a game and with better percentages (43.4 in March and 44.6 in April). (but then again, his percentages were pretty good in Dec and Jan as well.)

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i’m selling Jennings short, offensively he was actually better with Ellis. But once they teamed up, defensively, not only did each individual suffer, the whole team did. And drastically. For how good Jennings (19Pts & 5Ast on 44% shooting) was offensively next to Ellis they were even worse defensively. “The Bucks were 2.4 points worse than their opponent per 100 possessions with the two on the floor together. ” – http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/09/26/the-inbounds-ellis-and-jennings-and-the-cliff-of-compromise/
    - http://www.brewhoop.com/2012/9/28/3421460/milwaukee-bucks-2012-hollinger-projections-espn – there is an article that highlights some of why they are a bad combination together….as two undersized, weak defensive guards who use a lot of possessions to be inefficient logically would.

  • LakeShow

    I’d have him at 50.
    Monroe, Reke > than Jennings.

  • danpowers

    true but i think having im in here is still the aftermath of this one 50point game lol

  • 23

    Under armour released a sneaker called the “double nickel” in reference to that game. So i know what you mean, and i agree.

  • spit hot fiyah

    the best thing about these rankings are when we get to the 30′s and people realize that a certain player is either rankad way too high or not on the list at all. and goes on a rant saying if player x is ahead of player y i’m done with SLAM! and then is back commenting a week later.

  • Junior Taylor

    BJennings is a 39% career shooter (WTF), has yet to average 20ppg in a season, has yet to avg more than 7apg in a season and has yet to win any award of significance yet here he is ranked above Reke and Monroe.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk


  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    Yea, maybe if they were better defensively Jennings would’ve been ranked higher. I remember they were fighting for that playoff spot towards the end, but a string of losses ended their chances. Maybe if the Bucks actually make the playoffs this season his rank will improve.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i don’t see how Jennings was ranked this high. And for Milwaukeeto make the playoffs, they will need someone outside of those two to make a huge leap as a player. (here’s looking at you Epke Udoh).

  • http://SLAMonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Lmao. Exactly!

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    it seems that SLAM lost the non-regular commenters who blindly support players like this. Which seems to have really put a huge chunk in the amount of discussion.

  • nick

    but did Sacramento or Detroit almost make the playoffs, like Jennings led his team to?……..come on…

  • LeroyShonuff

    @disqus_rOeXXBD2qs:disqus Add them numbers with the fact that he had no post credible post defender. Bogut was consistently hurt the past 2yrs. Put him with a credible defender and wings who could actually score and defend, you will see his numbers rise.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    LOL!!!! losing 7 of your last 10 is almost leading your team to the playoffs? since when? & finishing 31-35 is evidence that Jennings is a better individual basketball player than Greg Monroe and Tyreke Evans? really? that’s the best defense for Jennings you can come up with? you do realize Monta Ellis is still about to be on this list right? That gives Milwaukee 2 players in the top 50, yet, they were absolutely horrible with those two sharing the floor….so you come on. Bring a better idea.

  • LeroyShonuff

    Players like Jennings and Evans will always be negativity effected by their teams while the Tony Parkers and Westbrooks are positivity effected. Replace any of them players and you will see those players ripped apart. Truthfully he should be higher, but this is the spot he is at. Their is only truly 5 maybe 7 true superstars while the rest from say 7-50 just needs the proper system. Jennings fall in that latter.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Actually Drew Gooden is a good post defender, Ilyasova is a decent defender. Udoh is one of the best defenders in the league, Mbah A Moute is a great defender. Larry Sanders also a very good defensive player.
    The issue? They have two guards whose opponents LIVE in the paint because they are so terrible.
    - The Bucks give up ELEVEN!!!!!!!!!! less points per 48 minutes with Jennings on the bench. From a very horrible 109 points per 48 minutes down to a very good 98 points per 48 without him.
    - Even the effect of Monta Ellis is not that drastic.

  • nick

    yeah and demarcus cousins and Brandon knight and possibly Marcus Thornton, will be on the list probably higher than monta….I know you are the most critical and annoyingly opionated person that comments here, but don’t be naive…you have an arrogance about your opinion, if someone doesnt agree with you, you always think the are wrong….well, sometimes you will be wrong…a lot of the time you are right….don’t ruin it

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Brandon Knight and Marcus Thornton won’t be on this list, LOL. that’s funny though.

  • nick

    We’ll see

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i promise they won’t. there is just no logic to even contemplating it as a possibility. Greg Monroe was far and away the best player on his team. And Marcus Thornton is a bonafide chucker who does literally nothing else. They aren’t top 50. Probably not even top 75.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    He averaged 19 and 6 last season. Not bad. What was bad though was his FG%. Hopefully, a full season with Monta will lead to him shooting better shots and having a better percentage. Without a legitimate center or post scorer, I don’t see this team making the playoffs. People will have different opinions about what a good season from him would or should be. For me, individually, he’s a better player than Monroe and Evans talent-wise. What has Greg Monroe done to make anyone argue so forcefully that he should be ahead of Jennings? He’s played 2 seasons. Had a good season last year. Tyreke hasn’t done anything to be considered better than Jennings either. He won ROY two years ago and hasn’t done anything worth talking about since. How can one argue that he’s better than Jennings when his numbers have decreased each of the last 2 seasons? It’s also wild and over the top to say that Jennings is the worst player so far in the top 50 when only 3 guys have been listed including him lol.

  • Peter Walsh

    nbk woke up with hate on his fingertips today.

  • LakeShow

    Monroe is obviously better. He anchors your team with points, rebounds, and defense consistently.
    Reke is debatable. I like his versatility more than I like Jennings scoring “prowess” or PG abilities.

  • LakeShow

    All he’s gotta do is average 55 over a season… Then we’ll get off his back.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    naw, i just don’t like Jennings as a player nearly as much as anyone else apparently does. if y’all had the same person at 48 as i did i wouldn’t do anything but defend it.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    He’s better in your opinion. Monroe has yet to do anything to prove to me that he’s better than Jennings. If he averages a double double this season and Jennings doesn’t improve, I’ll say he’s a better player.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Monroe averaged 15 and 9.7 last season….shiiiit he had a PER of 22.0 – he was considerably better than Jennings.

  • LakeShow

    In your opinion nbk… lol.
    Didn’t even realize there was a debate. Monroe is obviously better.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i am not debating that, i never said it was my opinion. i completely agree, Monroe is just clearly the better player.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Obviously, it’s just opinion since SLAM has Jennings ahead of Monroe. It’s all a matter of opinion. You can agree or disagree.

  • Datkid

    Jennings should NOT be ranked this high. w/ that said I think he finally fully turns it around this season.

  • Max

    Don’t forget Monroe doensn’t get any plays called for him. Jennings has the ball in his hands most of the times.

  • trent

    Does anybody remember that double nickel game? The Warriors played like NO DEFENSE on him. By that measure, Jennings could’ve scored more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danny23d Daniel Dsouza

    To be top 50, a guy should be top 10 at his position. Jennings is a third level point guard
    First level: Paul, Williams, Westbrook, Rose, Rondo, Nash, Parker
    Second level: Curry, Irving, Wall, Rubio, Ty Lawson,
    Third level: Conley, Jennings, Holiday, Lin, etc.
    A first level player should be capable of being the best player on a winning team. A second level player should be the second best player on a good team — the second level, other than Lawson, have a bit of proving to do. Irving is the most ready to jump to elite status. The third level player is better than average at his position but does not make your team a winner. Jennings, Holiday and Lin can all jump a level but haven’t done so yet. Conley is the prototypical solid PG who adds a little while not giving up anything. Calderon just slipped out of this group. There are 12 point guards at least that their team would not trade for Jennings. I don’t think Memphis, Houston or even Philly would make the trade either. So definitely not top 50.

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor



    Brandon should be ranked this high for the following reasons:His team won more games than the kings with less talent,He has no one to pass to and is forced to take bad shots hence the bad shooting percentage(with the exception of monta),He has improved stats wise most season,He has a defined position and isn’t a tweener like Tyreeke evans.
    But should he be higher than Greg Monroe I think not if he continues to develop he could be a Chris Webber like talent(if this happens he will be a lot higher next season) .Tyreeke Evans though should be this low though due to injuries,Stat regression,team being more talented and still not winning,He doesn’t have a defined position was supposed to be a pg-doesn’t run offense well,He was meant to be a SG but doesn’t shoot the ball well and if he embraced it could be an iggy type player but will never be a franchise player at all as he just doesn’t have it in him and makes average decisions.
    This is why the Kings will probably make Demarcus the Franchise player if he can keep his head straight as he is a beast and starting to buy into what the coach is selling and he only really needs to improve his defense in comparison to Evans.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    having a better record than the Kings doesn’t mean anything. I mean, it means absolutely nothing. What position the player plays means nothing. Tyreke Evans place in the rankings has and should have, no effect on Brandon Jennings. They are different players who are completely unrelated.