Two Great First Impressions

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: December 26, 2009

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — Two NBA rookies, both guards, have exceeded their teams’ expectations this season. Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans and Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings are turning heads. And they’re turning on each other.

The Kings played the Bucks at the Bradley Center December 19th. It was supposed to be a showdown between the league’s top rookies.

In the end, Jennings had the last assist that led to the go-ahead basket for the Bucks at 95-94.

Evans drove the lane for the winning basket to win the game for the Kings 96-95.

You would get different opinions from people of who really is the best rookie, but I wanted to hear from the horses’ mouths myself. And since both of them had bulletin-board material to offer in their perspective locker rooms, why not hear what they had to say.

“I felt like (Jennings) was backstabbing a lot of people who doubted him,” Evans said after the game. “I remember when Brandon got picked.

That’s what showed me what he was all about.”

He was pretty upset about how low he went. But he’s coming over here (from Italy) trying to think that he was better than me. I knew he wasn’t better than me. There’s people that’s been watching him.”

“If anybody wants to talk about stats”, Jennings said. “He scored a lot (24 points). Overall, I don’t think he had a better game than I did Numbers wise, if anybody check my stats . . .”

“It wasn’t no one-on-one battle, but I know how people get about stats, and this and that.

Take a look at that (stat) sheet.”

W e can compare the overall stats of Evans and Jennings and where they stand among the league leaders. Evans is 13th in scoring, averaging 20.4 points per game. Jennings’ average is 19.7, good for 17th place. Evans is shooting 47 percent.

Jennings is making 41 percent of his shots. His 3-point field goal percentage is higher than Evans (41 percent to 23 percent).

He also leads Evans in the free throw category (82 percent to 78 percent).

They are the only rookies among the top 50 NBA scorers.

In defense of Jennings, his scoring average declined since the return of guard Michael Redd from a knee injury. Jennings must make sure Redd get his shot attempts. When Redd was out, Jennings was asked to pick up the scoring load from head coach Scott Skiles.

Jennings immediately got the attention of other NBA teams when he scored a career-high 55 points at home against Golden State on November 14.

Since then, he struggled in some games.

Both Evans and Jennings were destined to be future stars.

They grew up in urban areas. Evans is from Chester, Pa., about an hour from Philadelphia. Jennings came from Compton, Ca., outside of Los Angeles.

They played on the same Bradley Center floor in 2008 in the McDonald’s All-American Game.

Jennings had the all-around game and Evans had the most points, earning MVP honors. Each player entered the draft this year. Evans played a season at Memphis and Jennings played in Italy. Evans was drafted fourth overall and Jennings 10th.

There are still a lot of NBA regular season games left, so the jury is still out. One of them, I believe, will win the Rookie of the Year Award.

Meanwhile, round two of their twice-yearly meeting will be March 19, 2010, in Sacramento.

Stay tuned.