Jennings makes most of summer to play away concerns over reputation
There are the usual rubber-stamp qualifiers -- it's only summer league, he's the No. 10 pick and should impress -- except that
The statistics (8.2 assists per game to tie
They would be important considerations in tracking any rookie who might be immediately thrust into a starting role, especially at 19 years old and at point guard, but Jennings pushes beyond any typical debate regarding on-court development. He pushes a lot of things, actually -- pushes the ball at blur speed, pushes the envelope. (The YouTube clip of Jennings tossing around the N-word a triple-double amount of times. Calling out
Plus, Jennings not only spent 2008-09 in Italy, but also got inconsistent minutes in the European class system that ordinarily favors older players. Add it all up and his Vegas run meant something, more than the coming attractions of any other lottery pick and probably more than any rookie.
Quickly addressing criticism in Vegas from some teams leading up to the draft that he will spend too much time looking for his own shot was admirable. And coming off as a model citizen delighted the Bucks. But the timing was critical. It came with
"We saw the kind of teammate he is," general manager
Jennings' debut fell in line with what the Bucks already believed: that he is mature, no matter the common misstep he has fallen to of leading with his swagger. They can click on YouTube the same as anybody. But owner
"I think sometimes there's a perception of people, and the perception is not always reality," Hammond said. "And certainly there were perception issues with him before the draft and right after. But what we found is that he wants to please. He wants to please the coaches. He wants to please his teammates. You see that when he's so unselfish on the court.
"We felt like we had a pretty good handle on him, drafting him with the 10th pick. But like any pick, you don't know for sure until you see him in situations every day. It is summer league. That being said, as a measuring stick, it was an important time."
No one is saying Jennings is the opening-night point guard, but it just became a lot easier for everyone else to project him in that role. And if not opening night, sometime soon.
Slowly, but absolutely surely, the Thunder continue to gain on the pack in the West, now with a new reason to be very encouraged about the future. That's in case it isn't enough that
The post-summer league scouting report from one opposing personnel boss is that "
As the others have been praised and dissected, Harden quietly has established a game that is much more a statement on dependability than flash. He was always one of the most NBA-ready players available and just happened to be a perfect position fit for the Thunder. Playing next to Westbrook, Harden should offer Oklahoma City a secondary ball handler capable of scoring at a level to make him a perfect complementary threat for Durant and deliver the offensive boost the Thunder needs.
• The Pacers' surprising decision to buy out