Brandon Jennings Returns to Milwaukee

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When he first came into the NBA, Brandon Jennings was one of the most explosive young point guards in the league. Only seven games into his rookie year during the 2009-10 season, Jennings dropped 55 points on the Golden State Warriors. He became the youngest player in NBA history to score 50+ points in a game.

He helped the Bucks make the playoffs in two out of the four seasons he was there before he left to the Detroit Pistons as a free agent in a sign-and-trade deal the summer of 2013. An injury cut his time in Detroit short, and since then he’s bounced around the NBA a bit with stints in Orlando, New York, and Washington.

He had been playing in China earlier this season, and with the Wisconsin Herd of the G-League before a familiar face came calling. With injuries to Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova, the Bucks needed help at point guard. They signed Jennings to a pair of ten-day contracts and then for the rest of the season, bringing him back to where it all began.

“It’s good, it feels good just being back in the NBA in general,” Jennings told Basketball Insiders. “A lot has changed since I left, but for the good. I’m just excited.”

Since coming back to the Bucks, Jennings has provided a little stability to the bench. He had a near triple-double in his first game back, a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Mar. 12, with 16 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists. He followed that up a few nights later on Mar. 23 in a win over the Chicago Bulls with 16 points, four rebounds and five assists.

His overall numbers since returning to the Bucks are nothing earth-shattering: 5.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists. But he’s given the team a reliable veteran presence with the injuries to Brogdon and Dellavedova. He understands that his role on the team has changed since he was last in Milwaukee and he’s okay with that.

“Just running the second unit, trying to make easy plays for guys and things like that,” Jennings told Basketball Insiders. “It’s definitely a bit of a different role from when I was here earlier in my career. But I’m taking it all in and I’m enjoying it.”

Jennings took a much less conventional path to the NBA than most players. Because of the NBA’s age limit as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he was unable to enter the draft right out of high school. Rather than attend college for a season, he opted to go pro and play overseas.

Recently, Syracuse commit Darius Bazley a five-star recruit out of Princeton High School in Cincinnati made headlines for choosing a similar path. However, instead of playing overseas, he chose to play in the G-League.

When Jennings was coming out of high school, the G-League did not have the type of presence it does now. For any young player who might feel like college isn’t for them, who want to play professionally before entering the NBA draft, Jennings believes the G-League is that place.

“If I’m a kid today, I would definitely try to go to the G-League,” Jennings told Basketball Insiders. “Just because you’re playing in front of NBA scouts every day. You’re getting that experience with travel and everything like that. I just think it’s a good situation.”

For Jennings, the G-League definitely helped him get back to where he belongs. After forgettable stops with the Magic, Knicks and Wizards, he headed to China, where he put up 27.3 points per game and 6.8 assists. When the CBA season ended, he returned stateside and joined the Bucks G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd.

In seven games with the Herd, Jennings put up 21.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game. While the G-League may have started out as a place where developing prospects could work on their game or NBA hopefuls could attract attention, it’s starting to serve another purpose. Veteran guys like Jennings are using it as a springboard back to the league.

“It’s the second-best league in the world,” Jennings told Basketball Insiders. “It definitely did me some good, just being able to play in front of NBA scouts and showcase that I can still play. It was good.”

While Jennings may not have suited up in the Bucks opening playoff game against Boston Celtics, he’s proven he still has what it takes to cut it in the NBA.