To say Brandon Jennings came into the league feeling unappreciated is an understatement -- he was so nervous about being the last man in the green room that he actually watched the 2009 NBA draft from a nearby hotel room, not making his way to the stage to shake David Stern's hand after being selected 10th overall by the Bucks until several picks later.
So early in his rookie year, he came out gunning: he scored at least 24 points in seven of his first 11 games, with no game more impressive than his 55-point explosion Nov. 14 against the Warriors. You can watch every bucket above, but check out the box score and consider his stats: he shot 21-of-34 (61.8 percent) from the field, including 7-of-8 (87.5 percent) from 3-point land. He also finished with five assists, which isn't exactly what you want from a point guard, but hey, when you're putting the ball in the hoop that efficiently, there's no room for complaints -- especially since the Bucks won, 129-125.
At that stage in his career, Jennings looked like a budding superstar, not to mention an absolute steal of a draft pick. Here's how Bucks blogger Frank Madden reacted at BrewHoop:
My twenty years as a Bucks fan have been, at least superficially, a disappointment. Far too many 50-loss seasons ending in mid-April. Disappointing draft picks and bloated contracts. Stars that don't shine as bright as every other team's stars. Coaches that talk a good game but can't seem to coach one. So if you're a recent convert or a casual fan, understand where I'm coming from. I might love the game too much to give it up, but as a fan I've got some serious baggage. Cynicism, pessimism, paranoia...it's all there lurking in the shadows.
So quite honestly I don't know how to deal with Brandon Jennings. I just watched him score 55 points in his seventh professional game, and quite honestly I'm working through some things. Like, is this really happening? Is it possible the universe is playing an awful, awful trick on us poor Bucks fans? Or is this just what it feels like to have a superstar drop into our lap? And can we just get him to sign a max contract extension now, rather than waiting another two plus years?
Sorry Frank, the universe was indeed just messing with you. Perhaps because he suddenly fancied himself a scorer, it was essentially downhill for Jennings shortly after this game. He shot 49.6 from the field in his first seven games but finished shooting 37 percent on the season. Jennings can be a fine player when he stays within his game, but as Pistons fans already know, he can also shoot his team out of a game.
But let's not dwell on that right now. For 48 minutes four years ago today, Jennings was an absolute stud. Here's to hoping for more 60+ percent shooting nights in the future.