Breaking down Brandon's crossover, power ranking the Bucks

Breaking down Brandon breaking down Stephen...

Four interesting parts to this play: the crossover, the floater, the rebound, the punch.

1) Jennings starts by casually dribbling to the right with his right hand, makes a quick little cross with his right hand to the left side, then stops on a dime and cuts the ball around his back with his left hand to the right side before darting into the lane.

The best part is obviously when he shakes Curry by pushing the ball behind his back with his left hand to the right side of the court. The fact that Brandon made the play with his left hand is not surprising -- but he may have taken Curry by surprise by going right.

Jennings is a natural lefty, and that is clearly the direction he is most comfortable going: left. Teams shade him to the left, and that seems to be what Curry is doing on this very play. Unfortunately for him, Jennings switched it up by making the prize play going with his left hand to his right.

Watching this highlight reminded me what Scott Skiles said after the game on Saturday:

More than anything what they were doing was sending Brandon to his right hand. That's what a lot of teams are trying to do, and they did a good job of it tonight. Brandon is still a work in progress when teams do that to him, being able to go to his right and get a lot of positive things done.

Now, arguably, Jennings made Curry fall when Curry forgot to shade left for a second and took just a step too far in right and Jennings cut in to the left. But in the end, Jennings made it work on this one play ultimately going right... 

2) The crossover elicits a collective "oooh" from the crowd and frees up the lane for Jennings. At that point, Jennings has a mostly open lane from the three point line almost all the way to the hoop, around which Jeff Adrien is lurking. Jennings takes a couple quick dribbles, the first of which easily sheds the helpless Andris Biedrins. After the second dribble, he lofts a floater toward the rim. That is just the trouble -- he seemed to push it merely toward the general vicinity of the rim, but it all looks so improbable, like he is throwing it up a hundred miles in the air. This is something that obviously still needs work.

Luke Ridnour made that same floater look so easy last season, and it is not so easy. But it's a trick worth mastering, and it's a play that helps make Ridnour a good player and Steve Nash a great one.

And while this floater in particular wasn't so hot, the good news is that Jennings is very quickly improving at finishing near the rim, if we are to believe his ten-game sample size this season.

Last season, Jennings made 42.7 % at the rim; this season he is up to 58.8 %. Tyreke Evans made 59.3 % at the rim last season. This particular area of dramatic improvement marks the single biggest reason why Jennings is a better player this year than last.

3) So he misses the floater, and we are seemingly headed for an And-One type of highlight rather than an NBA type of highlight.

But Jennings isn't here just for show. He follows his shot, saves the ball from going out, grabs it with both hands, and goes up strong against Andris Biedrins and draws the foul.

As noted in the recap, Jennings is climbing up the rebound ratings. Skiles praises Brandon's rebounding ability with some regularity, and while it's not the most important attribute for a point guard, it's nice to know that Jennings is a better rebounder than even someone with the physique and athleticism as Derrick Rose.

4) And the natural conclusion to every positive play: Luc Mbah a Moute inadvertently clubs Jennings in the face.

POWER RANKINGS

ESPN John Hollinger: Bucks 8th
Stat-based rankings like the Bucks, who have played a relatively difficult schedule (opponents are .576 -- two games against 8-0 New Orleans plays a role here.)

ESPN Marc Stein: Bucks 13th

Are the Bucks "fixed?" It's premature to go that far, even after a tidy 3-0 week, but the numbers do tell us that Skiles somehow has them at No. 2 in defensive efficiency, allowing just 95.4 points every 100 possessions.

Pro Basketball Talk: Bucks 14th

Three straight wins this week, not giving up more than 91 points to anyone. They are giving up just 96.9 points per 100 possessions, best in the Association.

NBA.com: Bucks 15th

After the Bucks' offense got going against the Knicks and after they exacted some revenge on the Hawks, Brandon Jennings scored 38 fewer points against the Warriors than he did a year ago. But the defense, as always, was stifling. The Bucks' 79 points on Saturday were the lowest by a winning team this season.

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