Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Brandon Jennings can score and he can pass. But up until March, Jennings liked scoring a lot better than passing.
The Milwaukee Bucks point guard has kicked off this month with three straight double-digit assist games, with no less than 12 in any of them and a high of 19.
Bucks coach Jim Boylan said he recently implored Jennings to take on more of a distributor role. "I talked to him about a guy like Chris Paul," Boylan said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Night in and night out he's a major factor, but his stats are always a bit different."
"Some games he scored 12 points and has 17 assists. Some games he scored 28 points. Whatever the game says he needs to do, that's what he does. So that's what we're kind of preaching to Brandon, just try to play the same way."
While we'd like to embrace the narrative that Jennings has bought into Boylan's coaching and changed his style for good, it's doubtful Jennings still will have the same desire to find shots for his teammates when his own aren't falling.
The guard has still managed to post some solid scoring games, racking up 38 points over the last two contests and averaging 16.3 ppg over the last three despite taking just 12.7 shots per game, down from his season average of 16.5.
But that's because he has shot 58.8 percent from 3-point range in that span. What happens when he starts shooting his season average of .379 or his career average of .353? If he shot .379 from 3-point range over his last three games instead of .588, he would have averaged just 13.1 ppg.
Jennings' assists total also has been helped by Monta Ellis' hot streak. Ellis has put together four consecutive 20-point games with an average of 25.6 on 52.6 percent shooting in that span. Ellis is only shooting 41.2 percent on the season. I'm sure his recent surge is partially related to Jennings getting him better shots, but even if that continues there's no way Ellis will continue to be a 50 percent shooter when he shoots just 23.9 percent on 3-point attempts and still insists on taking 3.5 per game.
Milwaukee as a team is red hot right now, making 48.5 percent from the field over its last four games. But that's unsustainable. Even if they improve their 24th-ranked .437 shooting percentage, 48 percent shooting is only in reach for the most elite of NBA offenses. Only Miami (.495), San Antonio (.488) and Oklahoma City (.483) are in that territory for the season, and all three are well-oiled offensive machines.
As a restricted free agent this summer, Jennings needs to maintain his numbers to cash in. If his scoring dips, he'll need to raise his assists, but as we all know, a perfect pass isn't worth anything if the receiving player doesn't hit the shot.
If Jennings doesn't see tangible results on the stat sheet with his passing, it's likely he'll try to rack up numbers the best way he knows how - by shooting.