I never saw this coming," says an Eastern Conference scout, a phrase that is echoing throughout the league. "He wasn't playing over there, he was having trouble with his coaches, and he couldn't shoot. That was the big issue—his shooting—but it sure isn't now."
At week's end Jennings was making an astonishing 49.1% of his threes—better than all but seven players in the NBA—launching confidently into his shot and finishing with an exquisitely supple follow-through. Despite the absences of Redd and center Andrew Bogut in a game at Memphis last Saturday, Jennings drove Milwaukee to sweep a back-to-back by scoring all but two of his game-high 26 points in the second half of a 103--98 win.
Hard times surely lie ahead. "Teams are screening him all the time," says Skiles. "They're banging him with their big guys, looking to take some juice out of him—and it's wise, it's what they should be doing." The game-planning against Jennings will escalate, his body will wear down, his percentages will ebb.
But he won't flame out. Jennings doesn't act as if he has the NBA all figured out. His first car was neither a Mercedes nor a BMW but rather a frugal $26,000 Ford Edge. "I asked him why he bought it, and he said, 'There might be a lockout in two years,'" says Sampson.
He remains as focused as he was three years ago when he departed Compton. Instead of living in downtown Milwaukee, Jennings moved into a suburban lakeside condo less than a mile from the Bucks' practice facility. "In September he started texting me, 'Coach, you want to go up to the gym and shoot?'" says Sampson. "His cousin would come with him and rebound, and Brandon would take his shirt off, and there were some nights where we'd shoot for two and a half hours nonstop. We'd look up there at the clock and it's after 11, and we've gone from drill to drill, one side of the floor to the other, and every time he'd get fatigued we'd recover at the free throw line. We were working on everything from runners to jump shots."
The overnight sensation understands better than anyone that success never comes overnight.
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