At the beginning of the season, I took a look at the Bucks position-by-position, profiling every player and their outlook for the 2009-10 season.
Now that the season is (about) halfway done, I’ll examine how each player has done up to this point and what we as Bucks fans can expect for the rest of the year.
First up, the point guards.
Preseason article: Profiling the point guards
I thought Ridnour would be the starter at the beginning of the season if only because the Bucks knew exactly what they would be getting from him – good protection of the ball and smart decision-making. Turns out the team would start the rookie Brandon Jennings from game one, based on his solid preseason play. Ridnour has taken his role as backup point guard in stride and is having his best shooting year by far – 49.8% this season, 42% career. He leads the team in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.9:1. He is scoring 11.3 points per game, just two tenths of a point shy of his season-best mark of 11.5, set in 2005-06. And he’s doing all of this off the bench. Ridnour is playing just 22 minutes per game and has become a model of efficiency for a team that needs one.
Ridnour will likely continue coming off the bench, something he surely won’t mind.
Jennings has started at point guard in all 36 of the Bucks’ games this season. I thought Ridnour would be the starting point guard at the beginning of the season until Jennings got a feel for the NBA, but his solid play in the preseason (10.9ppg, 6.3apg) got him the start in the season opener in Philadelphia where he nearly triple-doubled (17 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists).
Jennings was brilliant in the team’s first 10 games, averaging 27.8 points and 6.1 assists per game on 47.9% shooting, the highlight being his 55-point performance at home on November 14th against the Warriors. Since then, his shot has left him, as he has only made at least 50% of his shots twice since November 21st. He is shooting under 40% for the season and ranks 116th of 117 qualified NBA players in shooting percentage at 38.9%.
Despite his lackluster shooting, which was one of Brandon’s few weaknesses coming into the NBA draft, his passing has remained at a high level all season. He leads the team and is 12th in the league in assists at 6.0 per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio is a solid 2.23:1.
Brandon has all the makings of being a star point guard with the Bucks for years to come, and has a solid grasp on the starting point guard position for the team. With a little NBA seasoning and some offseason work on his jumpshot, we could be looking at a top 5 point guard in the NBA in a couple seasons.
I said in the preseason that minutes would be hard to come by for Ukic with two very good point guards ahead of him on the depth chart, and that was true. Ukic was released on January 4th so he could resume his career in Europe.
Ukic appeared in just 13 games this season for the Bucks. His only notable game came December 17th against his former team, the Raptors, when he scored 17 points and had 4 assists in 25 minutes.
There were never really any minutes to give to Ukic with Ridnour and Jennings playing so well, so it was for the best that the team released him – Milwaukee saved $2 million in the process as well.
I gave the point guard position a B during the preseason – through the team’s first 36 games, I’ll stick with that grade. Ridnour has shot the ball better than anyone could have imagined while Jennings has shot worse than we could have predicted. Still, both point guards show a good knack for making high-percentage passes and finding an open man.
With only two point guards on the roster after the release of Ukic, both will need to remain healthy for the rest of the season. My grade of B can certainly increase if Jennings starts shooting the ball with a little more consistency. Despite Jennings’ shooting struggles, the Bucks definitely have a one-two punch at the point guard position that few teams can beat.
Check back near the end of the season for my position-by-position season wrap up articles.
Next up – the shooting guards midseason update.
(Headshots courtesy of ESPN)
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