By Drew Packham, for NBA.com
Posted Nov 18 2009 3:24PM
Here's a scary thought about Brandon Jennings, he of the recent double-nickel.
"He's what I call a developing shooter," Bucks assistant coach Kelvin Sampson said by phone earlier this week. "We are still working on his release, his follow through, his arch, everything. His fundamentals are getting better. The good thing about Brandon is that he's a willing learner."
From his 55-point performance against the Warriors last week, in which he went 21-for-34 from the field and hit seven of eight 3s, it's hard to imagine Jennings' shot getting better. But Sampson, who works with Jennings closely before and after practice, says there's no telling how good he can get.
"His upside is ridiculous," Sampson said.
And yet, as late as the preseason, even the Bucks didn't realize just how good Jennings was going to be.
"There was a scrimmage, late in training camp," Sampson related. "Where Brandon just took over. No one on our team could stop him. He had his way on the court and we (the coaches) just looked at each other and said, 'This kid is special.'"
At the time, seven-year veteran Luke Ridnour was playing well enough to make head coach Scott Skiles and his staff wonder who would be the team's starter. After that scrimmage, though, the Bucks handed the keys to Jennings.
"A guy like him, you give the reins," said teammate Andrew Bogut, who has benefited from Jennings' running of the team to the tune of 15.5 points and 9.0 boards per game. "There's no point having a guy like Brandon and keeping a tight leash on him. The thing about coach is he gives you that freedom, but he's still gonna teach and try to help you through mistakes and tell you when you're doing things wrong, but at the same time give you that free rein of running the ballclub."
Sampson says a lot of the credit for Jennings' early success -- he's first among rookies (eighth among all players) in scoring with a 25.5 point average and assists with 5.5 per game -- should fall squarely on Skiles.
"Scott knows how to utilize Brandon," Sampson said. "He knows what Brandon's strengths are and how to get the most out of him. Scott's smart enough to adjust the team to what Brandon does well. He's been given a lot of freedom and he's really thriving in that situation."
NBA.com's Rookie Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Wednesday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for Drew Packham, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Honorable Mention: Chase Budinger, Rockets: Tough to drop him out of the top 10, but he's still averaging 9.3 points, sixth among rookies; Darren Collison, Hornets: Has scored in double digits in last four games (last two as Chris Paul's replacement); Eric Maynor, Jazz: Looked really good averaging 18.5 points, 7.5 assists in two games as fill-in starter. Rodrigue Beaubois, Mavericks: In three starts, Beaubois is averaging 10.7 points while going 13-for-19. Marcus Thornton, Hornets: Has averaged 11.3 ppg in last three games; David Andersen, Rockets: Had 19 points (9-for-14 FG) and six rebounds in win over the Lakers.
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