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Fanatics Pre-Draft Scouting Report: Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings Facebook6‘1″, 170lbs

Euroleague, 7.6ppg, 1.6 apg, 1.2 spg

igm-gravatar-copyIGM Analysis

OMG. WOW.  Brandon Jennings has mad, mad skills.  Viewing most of  the videotapes is an absolute pleasure.  Some of the film makes me feel even worse that I am not recommending him for lottery draft position because this is one analysis that could really come back to bite me. Sometimes GMs and Incidental GMs get it wrong.  But, I’ve got to go with my gut — what I see, what I know and what I feel.  The bottom line is that there is no way (as Knick GM) I could pick Brandon Jennings over Stephen Curry (and others) in the 2009 draft.  (If you look closely at the Europe videotapes, most of you will see why.)

The written reviews about this player are off the charts, including the fanfare afforded him by some astute Fanatics. He has the skills and the body frame for a high quality point guard.  If Rubio is the new “white chocolate,” Jennings is a “Deep Chocolate Jason Williams Souffle” with a kick.  He is flashy and creative and possesses “basic” pure point guard skills.   But he does not have the experience.  He was just recently playing in Europe after high school because of a combination of financial need and academic deficiencies. The larger problem however, is that HIS SHOOTING IS ATROCIOUS. He has trouble putting the ball in the basket unless he is hopping on top of the cylinder.   His shot is scary bad.  Again check the most recent tape of him in Europe in the Roma v. Unicaja game.  Wonderfully fast and gorgeous moves, but his shooting form is a form of chucking. (It looks even worse when you compare him to Stephen Curry).

Still, he is seen by many scouts as a high reward pick because of his speed and quickness and his ability to pass on the fly.

Since he is so loved and I think it is overblown, I have included all the video I could so that you get a sense of his skills and the type of person he is.  By the way, he seems to be a pretty good kid trying to make his dream come true. He is certainly battling through adversity to make it happen.  You must love the effort he is putting into being successful at realizing his dream. His persistence (plus showmanship plus upside) will get him an NBA gig.

IMHO, however, the arc of his story suggests that he will be a journeyman free agent for a few years before he becomes a serviceable role player for a veteran squad.

Jennings is getting a lot of praise and style points for making the brave decision to leave his comfort zone and go to Europe where he had a chance to play ball on a professional level.  Brandon is thankful for the experience but less enamored by it than his supporters.  About the experience during which his playing time consistently diminished, he says. “If I could do it all over again, I probably would have signed with a smaller team, but things haven’t worked out that bad.”

Despite gaining very little experience as a point guard in Europe, he has practiced a lot to refine his game and to correct deficiencies in his shooting technique.  A combination of poor technique, new unstable environment and lack of playing time perhaps led to his poor three point shooting  (22% or 22 of 99 attempts).

Statesman2 would certainly appreciate this observation from which sounds eerily familiar to his own insights:

The best things that Jennings brings to the table, though, definitely can’t be taught. He’s incredibly fast in the open floor, highly fluid getting up and down the floor, and extremely natural changing directions sharply and attacking the rim. In today’s NBA, where speed is absolutely at a premium like at no other point in time, Jennings has game changing potential as a shot-creator. Look no further than the way a relatively unheralded player like Aaron Brooks has been able to put his stamp on this year’s NBA playoffs for evidence of how valuable a speed demon like Jennings can be in the right offense.

I have looked at all of the available tape several times over and I am certain that it would be a mistake for Brandon to become a New York Knick.  He would be better suited for a stable veteran environment where he can be brought along slowly and without the added pressure of the Big Apple and some of their rotten fans.  I mean, the guy has almost no point guard experience at a level higher than the Micky D tourney.  Even Kobe was not rushed into the forefront and had the advantage of developing with some good players and a teaching coach.  Furthermore, Kobe was not a point guard which is by far the most difficult position to play, since a great point must think like five players and a coach.

The scouts cited below accurately detail what he can do. What he can do is great; the way he does it is amazing.  He is a showman par And1 Excellence — but points still count for either 3 or 2 points.

  1. He is jet fast on the break.  He zooms down the court and to the basket.
  2. He has serious hops and can dunk creatively with the best of them.
  3. He can take the ball to the rim and score when not bumped
  4. He can beat defenders off the dribble
  5. He can dribble between his legs
  6. He doesn’t mind hustling on D, although he reaches behind players a lot

Is that good enough?  Can he rebound?  Can he lead a team? Can he shoot a mid range jumper instead of a back rim brick?

Are the Knicks a good spot for an unrefined, raw talent? I am not aware of D’Antoni, a point guard himself,  ever training a  guard this raw.  Perhaps Duhon would take Brandon under his wings, but Duhon has his own issues with the D’Antoni offensive system.  Quentin Richardson goes out of his way to help youngsters as he has Lee, Robinson and Chandler, but will Richardson be around.  But aren’t Q’s days as a Knicks’ senior statesman numbered?

Brandon Jennings may  eventually prove that he is worthy of the hype, but for now, IGM believes it is best to catch this pick on the rebound, at the end of a three year contract with his first NBA team.  Those who like the kid should wish him the best and hope that he is picked up by an organization that will give him the attention and court time — even in the Developmental League — that he needs to realize his potential.  Otherwise, he will just be more fodder for the NBA mill.

I am IGM and I approve this message.  If you don’t, holler back.



Strengths: Blazing speed, both with the ball and without. Great ball handler. Able to score or create for teammates. Left handed. Three-point range on his jumper. Played in the toughest league outside of the NBA – the Euroleague. Great leaping ability. Familiar with the American and European styles of play.

Weaknesses: Very thin – needs to get bigger and stronger. Will be undersized for the NBA. Has to become a more consistent shooter. Played a lot of shooting guard in Rome – will be too small to do so in the NBA. Still needs more experience running a team as a point guard. Needs work on the defensive end.

Projected 2009 Draft Range: Top five pick.

Consensus: Jennings should be used to the spotlight since his decision to skip college and head to Europe garnered him so much attention. The year spent in Italy should do wonders for his game (mentally and physically) but he probably is still a few years away from being a big-time NBA point guard.


According To Borko Popic – 5/8/09

Strengths: An extremely quick and explosive player … Plays with cockiness and confidence that is necessary to succeed at the top level … His wingspan and leaping ability put him in a rare category of point guards … Has great open court speed and likes to attack in transition … He is very good at changing direction mid-stride without losing speed or control of the ball … He is extremely dangerous off the dribble, where his first step and nice handles allow him to explode by defenders … Gets to the rim and finishes well with a nice mix of moves … Converts a good percentage at the line … His lefty jumpshot looks smooth and he has a quick release … Has the ability to stop on a dime and pull up … Defensively, he has very quick hands and great lateral footspeed allowing him to stay in front of even the quickest guards… Enjoys pressuring ball handlers … Anticipates well and gets out into the passing lanes … Showed mental toughness and he deserves some credit for sticking through a difficult situation, where he encountered a new culture, a coaching change and inconsistent playing time … Was tamed by the system that did not allow all of his strengths to be on display …

Weaknesses: Did not have the season needed to improve his stock, but playing the PG position at the top Euro level is difficult for any player, much less one coming straight out of high-school … Has struggled playing in the half court because his jumpshot has been inconsistent, which allows defenders to play off him and clog the lanes … Does not take care of the ball, but is rather very careless with it, trying to make the flashy play rather than the simple and correct one … Needs to learn to control the tempo, to slow down and change gears; he goes at one speed (full throttle) at all times which leads to a high turnover rate and it makes him very predictable and easy to defend … Shows a strong preference to finishing with his left hand, even when going right, he will usually switch back to his strong hand and expose the ball to the defense … Because his frame is extremely light and frail, he has a hard time going up against stronger guards because they can body him out of driving lanes … Defensively, even though he does a good job staying in front of people, they are still able to get their shoulder on him and take him to the basket … Tends to fade on his shot too much, leaving many of them short, especially when playing longer stretches of minutes …

According To Aran Smith – 8/7/2006

Strengths: Tremendous lefty point guard with a scary package of speed, athleticism, point guard skills and tenacity … A natural. Really understands how to play the point guard position, the type who can penetrate at will and create offense for everyone … Exceptional vision and passing ability … Makes everyone around him better … His speed pushing the ball up the floor is at an elite level … Very feisty, a fighter, won’t back down to anyone … Has a great toughness and competitiveness about him … A spectacular leaper, who regularly converts backdoor alley oops Shows a solid outside and mid range jump shot … Creates very well off the dribble and gets to the rim well due to his explosive first step …Weaknesses: Desperately needs to add muscle mass to his body … Right now his body is about 20-25 pounds too light … He can be pushed around by bigger and stronger guards, and is less effective at penetrating because he can’t absorb contact … He may struggle to put much strength and weight on, as he appears to have a naturally skinny body … Can improve upon his offensive game. His jump shot and decision making are good but he’ll need to develop those skills further Inexperience. He still must prove himself on the college level …

DRAFT EXPRESS.COM (excellent articles)

Situational Statistics: This Year’s Point Guard Crop
May 8, 2009
AAU basketball and high-level European basketball are worlds apart. Brandon Jennings got to experience the difference first hand and it shows in his numbers.

Jennings has the second lowest usage on this list at 7.6 Pos/G, and his .77 PPP is the worst. The rigors of international basketball aren’t kind to the average eighteen year old, and considering he threw himself to the wolves in signing with a team playing on the highest levels in Lottomatica Roma, he struggled as expected. His athleticism let him make some plays from time to time, but his inexperience was constantly apparent in his shot selection. He took 2.1 pull up jumpers per game, but only hit 21% of them. He shot under 25% from the field when running the pick and roll and when isolated as well. The fact that he was fouled on merely 6.2% of his halfcourt shots didn’t help his PPP in those areas either. Jennings was at his best in spot up situations, but his 1.07 PPP is still only a bit above average –though he did put up 1.39 PPP on open catch and shoot jumpers. News isn’t all bad for Jennings, as he turned the ball over less than average (15.2% of halfcourt Pos), but at the end of the day, he scored on merely 29.7% of his possessions. Jennings’ struggles may make any point guard considering the jump from high school to the top level of Europe think twice, as it’s likely just too big a jump in competition to overcome in a minimal role in a single season.
[Read Full Article]

Brandon Jennings Video Report

Brandon Jennings at Oak Hill

Brandon at Micky D’s

Brandon at Jordan Classic

Note: There is a must see dunk at the end of this video. Amazing.

Brandon at RBKU Camp

Sick Handle

Jennings in Europe v. Tau & Unicaja

Brandon Jennings Interviews

May 12, 2009, Part II

In Rome, Nov. 11, 2008

Jason Kidd on Brandon Jennings

Next (By June 3rd): DeMar Rozan, Jonny Flynn & Eric Maynor


May 26, 2009 - Posted by | Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson | , ,


  1. Nicely put together! However, I question the talent
    level he’s seen against in these obvious
    “Edited” highlights.

    Denver put it on the Lakers last night!
    Bitch slapped them! I think ” Smitty”
    may have the potenial to be the Best
    Player on that team! Magic may go up
    3-1 tonight…this series should have been over!
    Bottom line? Kobe or Lebron are subpar to MJ.
    Still searching for the next MJ.

    Comment by Peaceman | May 26, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wow,someone is doing their homework. Good job!!!

    Comment by D L T Knicks | May 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. May 2004–Back to the Future
    Orlando Majic Scouts, (IGM & Statesman)

    IGM—“Emeka Okafor has experience. He led Uconn to the NCCA championship. He has played against top competition, and his game right now is more advanced than Dwight Howard. Howard does not have a soft touch and his free throw shooting is atrocious. He has not played high caliber competition. Okafor can contribute immediately”

    Statesman—Our goal is to draft the player that has the most upside. We need to focus on who will be the better player in 4-5 years. Is Okafor a better player today….Yes. Does he have the upside of Howard….No.

    The college experience is irrelevant. Talented players stay 1, maybe 2 years in college, so talented juniors are playing freshmen and sophomores. Let’s focus on what it takes to reach star status in the league, and what each individual has and needs. If their needs are teachable, then select that individual over the person who needs are not. For example if Howard has greater hops, a longer reach, is bigger and is still growing, we should select him over Okafor. We can work with him on free throws and the experience will come.

    Fanatics, Curry at best is Ben Gordon, but he does not have Gordon QUICKNESS & CROSSOVER to free himself for the shot. He will be a contributor off the bench on a good team. Jennings can start on a good team.

    “I see he does shoot set shots from a flat-footed position often, but I am not sure about the connection between getting off jumpers before defenders jump out and starting with your feet flat on the ground.”; Comment by igmknicks | May 25, 2009 |

    The flat-footed shot is an issue because in the NBA when you are separating yourself from the defender with your speed/quickness rising off the floor to shoot your shot lowers the probability of that shot being blocked. If your shot is flat-footed and you are 5.9, then the probability of the shot being blocked increases.

    BTW–Is anyone still debating Eddy Curry vs. Dwight Howard. Can African pen “Eddy Curry Mismanaged, Misused & Mistaken”.

    Peace & Blessings

    Comment by Statesman2 | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  4. I see Lives & O&B are “All Quite on the Coastal
    Fronts” with their CAV’S winning the East Predictions!LOL
    I’m enjoying these Conference finals more than I can remember! Despite the CAV’S and the Lakers having EIGHT
    MEN ON THE COURT…..DENVER & ORLANDO have overcome
    maybe the most obvious biased Zebra whistles in the
    history of the MBA to sway the FINALS into a KOBE vs LEBRON
    theme from Dictator Stern.

    I’m here with Dr Phil and he wants to ask Lives and
    O&B one question about their Cav’s prediction.

    Dr Phil: Lives and O&B, Are You NUTS? What were you thinking?

    Comment by Peaceman | May 27, 2009 | Reply

    • Peace or O&B, call me about a possible LBE. My cell went out.

      Comment by livesinnewjersey | May 27, 2009 | Reply

    • It ain’t over till that fat lady sings. LeBron and Mo Williams will take Hedo, Lewis, Howard and Alston all by themselves. Yeah, who else do they have on the Cavs: Oh Booby. It don’t matter, Cavs got three to go, one at a time.

      Comment by livesinnewjersey | May 27, 2009 | Reply

    • It ain’t over till the Fat Lady Sings (in Cleveland).

      Comment by livesinnewjersey | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  5. Statesman,

    Since 1957 there have been thousands of players selected in the NBA Draft. They all have their own story. It is interesting that you should reach back to 2004 to find two careers to illustrate the point that “the college experience is irrelevant” and that we (Knicks Fans/GMs) “need to focus on who will be the better player in 4-5 years.”

    Why must we focus on who will be better in 4-5 years? What general manager would focus on that time frame given his market or the CBA?

    The only reason I can determine that 4-5 years would make any sense is because it happens to fit the contours of the one, Okafor v. Howard), of a thousand stories you selected. It took four years for Howard to catch up and show some separation from Okafor in his overall production.

    I am not sure that I would have selected Okafor given that his stats and college experience were boosted by playing with Charlie Villaneuva (hailed to be the 2d best player in LeBrons HS peer group), Ben Gordon and Josh Boone. It is also hard to ignore Howard’s Sr. year in HS in which he won a state title while averaging 25ppg, 18rpg., 8 bpg. But I do know that it would take a lucky psychic to tell that Howard would take four years to be better than Okafor and would be playing for a better team.

    Did you conveniently ignore the other facts shaping this story. First, that Okafor was drafted by an expansion team and has been coached by Bernie Bickerstaff, Sam Vincent and Larry Brown. Still he had a better first year than Howard and began to have trouble when he was advised to bulk up and add 20 lbs leading to a second year where he played 26 games. Still he continues to average a double, double and his team continues to improve since their initial season which was 2004.

    Howard on the other hand began his improvement most significantly after being exposed to the Olympic “experience” where he saw first hand what it would take to do more than stand under the basket and dunk. He has only had two coaches (Brian Hill and Van Gundy) and has been with a stable organization that has given him players such as Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameeer Nelson/Rafer Alston to make him look better. He was also given a private tutor in Ewing — a relaionship that has done wonders for his game. (Okafor did train with Olajuwon).

    Can you honestly say that you could predict these events with certainty five years ago? If so, I am pleased to have finally met someone with that skill who is not a charlatan or a relative of Nostradamus.

    I also know that Walsh is not working with a 4-5 year time frame for the Knicks to be a playoff contender. There is also a difference between selected between two top Forward/Center prospects and two point guards who is raw in a very basic skill.

    I would address the “college experience is irrelevant” statement, but I am certain you did not mean it as you wrote it because all experience has relevance. The real issue is how it fits in the evaluation. Plus later in your analysis you indicate that within 4-5 years Howard’s experience balanced out with Omeka’s.

    In the case of Jennings against all the other point guards, you may be right that Jennings will be a better player on a better team. I don’t know the answer to that one. I say, if that’s the time frame you are working with, take the chance. I would not.

    Comment by igmknicks | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  6. Statesman2,

    You say “The flat-footed shot is an issue because in the NBA when you are separating yourself from the defender with your speed/quickness rising off the floor to shoot your shot lowers the probability of that shot being blocked. If your shot is flat-footed and you are 5.9, then the probability of the shot being blocked increases.”

    Really? What happens if your separation is created by a pick or series of picks and/or you just happen to rise off the floor from a flat-footed position? Does all this indicate that one’s shot will be blocked too much for his shot to be effective?

    This discussion reminds me of the wisdom of Leo Durocher who refused to allow anyone to change Willie May’s basket catch to a more traditional style because traditionalists thought he would be more likely to miss the ball. He turned out to be one of the greatest outfielders ever despite his unorthodoxy. Like Durocher, I am not convinced that elevating from flat feet will hinder his NBA career (or that it can’t be modified with repetition/practice).

    Comment by igmknicks | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  7. David Stern’s “NBA Play-offs” is that increasing rarity, an impeccably made classic Japanese period picture in which a nobility of spirit is tested amid the most beautiful of settings, revealing the harshness and hypocrisy of a feudal society of the utmost formality and rigidity. It completes MJ’s samurai trilogy, drawn from the short stories of Larry O’Brian, that began with the Oscar-dominated “The Unwanted Samurai” and “The Paladin’s Ronin.”Ha, ha, ha,

    Comment by Movieman | May 29, 2009 | Reply

  8. Street-Corner Logic
    Question: Is it logical to reach a conclusion based on evidence /information that existed, or to conclude AGAINST the evidence/information for the sake of holding your position?

    Inner-City Blues
    Question: How do you know that your position is strong in a debate?
    Answer: When the opposition becomes tangential and focuses on the peripheral.

    Question: How do you know the opposition has been KO’D
    Answer: When you are personally attacked for providing SUPPORTIVE INFORMATION for your position.
    Since 1957 there have been thousands of players selected in the NBA Draft. They all have their own story. It is interesting that you should reach back to 2004 to find two careers to illustrate the point that “the college experience is irrelevant” and that we (Knicks Fans/GMs) “need to focus on who will be the better player in 4-5 years.” Comment by igmknicks | May 28, 2009

    Response: The draft has been held since 1951 not 1957. In the 57 year period of the draft, 1975 is the only year before 1995 that an American player was drafted in the first round that did not play on the college level, (Chocolate Thunder). That is one player,, one year in 44 years. In would have been inappropriate to use this period.

    KG open the floodgates for high-schoolers in 1995, or 13 years ago. In the last 13 years there have been two occasions when a player with 3 years of college experience(you stressed) led his team to a championship and was considered a high draft pick in a draft that contained a highly rated player that never played college ball. 2004–Howard and Okafor, and 1997, Ron Mercer and Tracy McGrady. In both cases the individual w/o the benefit (I use loosely) of the college experience became a better pro. Was this person a better pro immediately……No. However within 5 years Howard & McGrady became all-stars. Talent trumps experience.

    As John Wooden once said. “ I would rather have TALENTED players without experience, than have EXPERIENCED players without talent.

    Flat-Footed Shot: There is not much that I can add. Other than the local Y if you don’t get elevation on your shot in most leagues it will be blocked. In the NBA this is a no-no, even with all of the moving picks. I ask you to give me an example of two rotation players under 6.5 on any team in the league that shoot flat-footed jumpers?

    I am not sure how discussing Ty Lawson’s shot compares with one of the greatest, if not the greatest everyday ball player of all-time., Willie Mays. I would say this is similar to asking Rick Monday to quit diving in the outfield for balls or they will go to the wall, or asking Steve Swisher to step up in the batter box to hit the slider before it slides.

    Jennings or Bust,
    Rubio is a Bust,
    Curry I don’t Trust,
    Lawson will be Dust

    Peace & Blessings

    Comment by Statesman2 | May 29, 2009 | Reply

  9. Statesman2,

    It looks like somebody is about to bust.

    Jennings has decided not to test his skills against his competition. He has withdrawn from the Eurocamp workouts at Treviso and is expected to attend individual team workouts. He also was not at the Combines in Chicago.

    Does he think (realize) that his stock would decrease, if he were to go head to head with his lottery competition? Or do you have some other explanation that fits your belief that he is the best point talent available?

    Comment by igmknicks | May 30, 2009 | Reply

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