Bucks’ Jennings hopeful for All-Star nod
MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Even though the Milwaukee Bucks are several games below .500, there is a good possibility that Brandon Jennings could be selected as an All Star on Thursday for the first time in his three-year NBA career.
If that happens, the Bucks’ 22-year-old point guard may not be able to contain his emotions.
“I would have tears of joy if I did make it,” Jennings said. “I can just remember me playing as a kid in Europe that everybody doubted and said I would never make it, and them saying I’d never be a consistent player or I’d never be an All Star.”
Jennings, Milwaukee’s No. 10 overall pick in 2009, decided to forgo the usual college basketball route after high school, instead opting to play in Italy for one year before entering the draft.
This season has been a big improvement for Jennings in several offensive areas. He is averaging 20 points per game, which is the 13th-best mark in the entire NBA. Jennings is shooting 43.3 percent from the floor, significantly up from his first two seasons at 37.1 and 39.0 percent. While his assists have stayed relatively the same, his turnovers are down. Plus, his steals are up.
“Brandon’s having a nice year,” coach Scott Skiles said. “It’s hard to talk like that when you’re a below .500 team. What happens is on teams that have struggled for a decade, save one year, is everyone wants to point at one individual guy and say ‘Boy, that guy has really done great.’
“Brandon’s having a great year. I don’t want to take anything away from him. But right now, we’re not a winning team. That should be the priority in everybody’s mind.”
Given the Bucks’ 10-14 record, Skiles isn’t sure whether that will keep Jennings from making the All Star team.
“He can make it,” Skiles said. “It depends on what criteria each coach uses when they write the names down (and) how much they put on guys being on winning teams and things like that.”
The top competition for Jennings in the All-Star reserve guard spots are Boston’s Rajon Rondo, Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and New Jersey’s Deron Williams. While the Celtics and Hawks have far more wins than the Bucks, Williams’ Nets have a worse record than Milwaukee.
“I think he should make it,” Jennings’ teammate Stephen Jackson said. “He deserves it. He’s playing great. He’s the leader of this team. He’s been scoring great. There’s a lot of great point guards in this league, but me being his teammate, I’m always for him.”
Jackson added that the Bucks’ record would “definitely be the only reason” that Jennings does not make it.
“The game is about winning, point blank,” Jackson said. “You might have some people who average 30 but if their team’s not winning, I’m pretty sure the guy from the team that’s winning is going to make the All Star game before him.”
The All Star reserve spots will officially be announced Thursday night, but if Jennings makes it, he doesn’t think he’ll be the first to find out.
“I’ll probably find out through Twitter or I’m sure my phone will probably be buzzing,” Jennings said. “I’m sure other people will find out before me.”
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