Brandon Jennings Was The Best Player In The World For 10 Days In 2009
Everyone knows the story about how Brandon Jennings was the best basketball player in the world for one November night in 2009, when he scored 55 points.
Fewer people recall that over the span of 10 full November nights in 2009, Brandon Jennings was the best basketball player in the world.
The Bucks just signed Jennings to a 10-day contract. In honor, we are going to talk about three ridiculous things from each of the five games that Jennings played when he was the best basketball player in the world.
(Note 1: Similar to virtually every 10-day span over the past 15 years, LeBron James was really great during these 10 days too, and if you want to say that he was more great than Jennings during these 10 days? That is fine.)
(Note 2: Jennings is not going to be the best basketball player in the world during this 10-day contract.)
November 11, 2009
Ridiculous thing #1: In his sixth NBA game, Jennings thoroughly outplayed Chauncey Billups, who was coming off an All-NBA 3rd Team campaign (Tony Parker in arguably the best season of his career was the other All-NBA 3rd Team guard, to give a little perspective) and who was still an All-Star (he was named an All-Star a few months later) and who still very much Mr. Big Shot. Late in the fourth quarter though, it was Jennings who hit two triples in a row, and who iced the game with six straight free throws.
Ridiculous thing #2: He led the Bucks to a win that night against a Nuggets team that had in the previous season pushed the eventual 2008-09 NBA Champions, Lakers to six games in the Western Conference Finals, which was Carmelo’s best team ever. This was Carmelo’s second-best team (they went on to go 53–29). Jennings did this against a really good team.
Ridiculous thing #3: His statline was something out of James Harden circa 2018: 11–19 field goals, 2–2 threes, 8–8 free throws, 32 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds.
November 14, 2009
Ridiculous thing #1: On this night, fellow rookie Steph Curry was coming off a game in which he had played two minutes, after being benched by Don Nelson in the game before that. To emphasize: While Jennings was coming off a superstar performance in which he straight gave it to Chauncey Billips, the future unanimous MVP of the league had in his previous two games been benched and then had played two minutes. This was the stage that was set.
Ridiculous thing #2: Jennings missed his first three shots, was benched less than five minutes into the game, and scored zero points in the first quarter.
Ridiculous thing #3: Then he scored 55 points in the final three quarters, including 29 in the third quarter. Below is where things started to crescendo, where he was in grab-the-rebound-and-come-down-and-hit-a-three mode.
November 16, 2009
Ridiculous thing #1: The only loss of these 10 days was to the 55-win Mavericks — in overtime, on a last-second prime Dirk Nowitzki game-winning jumper that bounced high off the rim and in. Come on:
Ridiculous thing #2: Still, Jennings went for 25/8/7, hit four three-pointers (out of nine), and was the only starter to really show up for the Bucks.
Ridiculous thing #3: Nonetheless, after the game he said, “I’m kind of taking this one to the heart, because I feel it’s my fault that we didn’t win that game.” This was not true! However, it is a nice segue for me to remind you here that when 20 year-old Brandon Jennings was the best player in the world for 10 days as a rookie, his starting backcourt mate was Charlie Bell.
November 18, 2009
Ridiculous thing #1: This Bucks win dropped the Nets to 0–12. Lawrence Frank went on to start the season 0–16, and the Nets cycled through three coaches (Frank followed by Tom Barrise and then Kiki Vandeweghe) during the season.
Ridiculous thing #2: This dreadful Nets team featured the motliest crew of former-or-future Bucks on one team in NBA history: Yi Jianlian, Rafer Alston, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Keyon Dooling, and Bobby Simmons.
Ridiculous thing #3: Jennings went for 19/4/8 while hitting 6–13 from the field, 3–4 threes, and 4–5 at the line, for a +16 differential. He led the Bucks, who by some were predicted to be the second-worst team in the East along with the Nets, to their fifth win in six games.
November 20, 2009
Ridiculous thing #1: Andrew Bogut got hurt in the previous game, the Bucks were still waiting for Michael Redd to return from injury, and Luc Mbah a Moute was out of the lineup too.
Ridiculous thing #2: With that, this was a thinned-out Bucks, and no one other than Jennings on the Bucks made more than five field goals in the game — Hakim Warrick shot 5–13 after beginning his night by inbounding the ball to Raymond Felton, which was troubling because Felton played for the Bobcats.
Ridiculous thing #3: Jennings, meanwhile, hit 12–23 from the field and went for 29/4/7, and another win. That capped his run as the best basketball player in the world for those 10 days. In the five games, he averaged 32.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.4 assists while shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 59.4 percent on threes. I don’t know if it was more unfathomable then or if it is more unfathomable now.