I haven’t heard Brandon Jennings answer this question directly, but I imagine he’s not surprised by the challenges faced by some of his NBA brethren currently playing professionally overseas during this Lockout. Ty Lawson appears to have had a rough go of it lately and Deron Williams’ Turkish experience has been met with some negative feedback as well. All of which might have had something to do with Jennings’ decision to stay stateside at the moment.
He played in Italy following his senior year in High School, but as Billy Hunter and David Stern move into the final rounds of their high stakes game of Go Fish, Jennings has embarked on his own personal barnstorming tour across the US. If you stroll down to your local YMCA during your lunch break today, there’s even a good chance he’s there. It’s something he talked about when he spoke to the folks at Grantland during an Under Armour event last week:
Grantland: Why wouldn’t you be one of the first players going to play overseas during the lockout? It’s something you’ve done before.
Brandon Jennings: I just don’t feel like I need to do that again. It’s not all about the money sometimes. I love the game and the game never stops. A couple years ago, I wasn’t getting paid for it, so it really don’t matter to me. For me, I just enjoy going to other hoods and playing.
Grantland: Sports Illustrated just did a nice piece on how you’ve played in a bunch of gyms this summer. Is it impossible for you to see a game and not want to jump in?
Brandon Jennings: Actually, if I see about nine people out there, nine or 11, I might stop by and just go play. I can’t even count how many places I’ve played at during the lockout. Whenever somebody hits me on Twitter, or I hear there’s an open run, I’m going to it.
Grantland: What have you gotten better at since the season ended?
Brandon Jennings: I think playing on the road. I think going to different hoods and not playing in my comfort zone.
That last line particularly caught my attention: going all over the country playing in random pick-up games, summer leagues, church basements, playgrounds, or wherever to improve your ability to play on the road. Kinda makes a lot of sense when you think about it, but I’ve just never heard a professional player approach improving that aspect of his game in the offseason, let alone specifically try to improve it in that way.
Jennings went on from there to offer his ranking of the top-5 PG’s in the Association too, and his list is as follows:
Grantland: Who do you think are the top five point guards in the league? You can list yourself if you think you’re up there.
Brandon Jennings: I would have to go with Deron Williams first. Derrick Rose, two. Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and Steve Nash.
Grantland: Where do you come in?
Brandon Jennings: I don’t know. I don’t rank myself. I just play. I’ve been over rankings since high school basketball. As long as your team is winning, and as long as you’re helping your team win, can’t nobody say nothing about you.
I have Jennings in my top-15 PG’s in the League right now, but he’s a guy I do believe has the ability to move into the top-10 quickly. He looked like he’d be hovering around the top-5 or top-10 consistently after dropping 55 points seven games into his NBA career, but he did take a step backwards last season. He’d be a senior in college this upcoming season if he’d had been allowed into college and stayed there, so we’ll see where he goes from here over the next couple years.
Jennings mentioned in another inteverview at the Under Armour Event that his goal is to be back in the playoffs next year. When talking with The Hoop Doctors, he also talked about that whole thing with Kobe Bryant and the snake t-shirts earlier this summer too. He said he has no beef with Kobe, no pun intended, and that he heard Bryant does have that Bucks / Lakers game circled on his schedule, though. That was me who made the corny pun joke about Kobe Beef by the way, so don’t blame Jennings for that. The video I was referring to is right here.