New York Knicks‘ Brandon Jennings has been notoriously inconsistent during his career. With a new role on a new team, he can change all that.
Brandon Jennings got his money’s worth out of all 82 starts he made as a rookie for the Milwaukee Bucks. His team-leading 1,216 FGA combined with a putrid field goal percentage (.371) set the tone for the inefficiency that has developed into an unfortunate trend during his seven seasons in the league.
Jennings turns 27 years old this month, and he should be playing the best ball of his career right now, but the New York Knicks are his fourth team in the last five seasons, so if he’ll be looking for stability with the Knicks. Hopefully what he went through last season was a reality check.
2015-16 was a nightmare for Jennings. After all that work to come back from tearing his Achilles he only played 23 games before the Detroit Pistons traded him at the deadline to the Orlando Magic. Jennings averaged career lows in every statistical category, per Basketball-Reference.
Injury concerns on top of a mediocre season don’t make for an appetizing free agent to NBA general managers. It’s why Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson was able to get Jennings to agree on a one-year pact at the bargain price of $5 million and sell him on the idea of coming off the bench for the first time in his career. Jackson knew he needed a quality backup point guard in case injury prone starter Derrick Rose went down so he picked up Jennings.
Phil expects his newest scorer to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award, per Ian Begley of ESPN New York. Jennings won’t achieve that lofty goal if he continues to play out of control and take bad shots. To take full advantage of the new opportunity Jennings should alter his approach during his time in New York.
For starters, he needs to dribble less. The stats from his 2013-14 campaign (when he played 80 games) tell that story all too vividly. According to NBA.com, Jennings took 32% of his shots after 7-plus dribbles leading to 52% of his shots being pull ups. In context, only 43% of Stephen Curry‘s shots this season were on pull ups.
He needs to be pickier about his FGA, particularly three-point shots, since he’ll have fewer opportunities. In 13-14, 34% of Jennings’ FGA were above the break 3s, per NBA.com. He shot below the league average from the top of the key and finished with an overall 3-point percentage of .337. Yuck.
Right now Jennings is what you’d call a “volume shooter” which SportingCharts.com defines as, “A type of shooter in the NBA that is known for taking a significant number of shots (on a rate basis – per game/minute) who is likely to take a lot of isolation shots and shots from many different locations.” So yeah it’s professional basketball for chuck and Jennings can’t be that guy with the Knicks.
Jennings isn’t broken and in a reduced role with a team that doesn’t need him to be a star, the former first-round pick could thrive.
If not, then sharing the court with Rose or Carmelo Anthony will be a tall task. Well, Rose probably will be regardless. Those two trying to play defense together would be the blind leading the deaf, dumb, and blind. It’s important that Jennings and Anthony mesh well, though. Kristaps Porzingis too.
Jennings has an abundance of talent he’s just picked up terrible habits during his career. No coach ever grabbed him and told him that he wasn’t Kobe Bryant. Brandon Jennings signed a one-year contract because he’s auditioning.
Jennings wants the rest of the NBA to take notice of him, and he picked the perfect place. He’s in New York City. Let’s see if he can back it up.