Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Weeks In: Four-Guard Monty

I liked the Melo post after his titanic dunk in the first week of the season so much that I'll try to have a weekly installment as the season moves along. For week two, FU highlights a few fledgling floor generals making early impacts. Take that, Ricky Rubio. More after the random picture...

In Denver, there's a roadrunner speeding up and down the court in the Rocky Mountains the same way that Looney Tunes' bird evaded Wile E. Coyote through the canyons. Lawson can learn from Billups, and George Karl will allow him to maintain that frenetic pace he mastered at Chapel Hill. It also helps that the Nuggets have no other offensive option off their bench (I count JR Smith as a starter). Joey Graham in Denver's swingman normally means a team is lacking along the perimeter. Lawson is like the "change-of-pace" running back--like what Darren Sproles is to LaDainian Tomlinson. He's impossible to keep out of the paint, and has a better jumper than previously scouted. We'll see if he climbs that plateau that hovers over fellow UNC point guard Raymond Felton's game.

Moving further west, in the midst of Sacramento's futility is a gem of a combo guard in Tyreke Evans. "Team Tyreke" is 6'7" with point guard skills and a scorer's arsenal of moves. Evans appears to be everything hoops fans were hoping Shaun Livingston would be before that freakishly devastating knee injury. Some questioned his early jump to the NBA, but it seems the new crop of young floor generals seem to have an inner belief in their abilities that scouts can't measure. It helps that he's on a young team that has talent, but not that impact player with superstar potential. Kevin Martin's good, but he's along the same plane as Ben Gordon. He scores really well, and does little else. Evans is a game-changer on many levels. The big question will be if he can bring the Kings' franchise back to relevance.

In the Twin Cities, Jonny Flynn has allowed the Timberwolves to forget about Ricky Rubio and his decision to stay overseas. Flynn has also won the starting job from Game One, relishing free agent acquisition--and underrated point guard--Ramon Sessions to the backup role. To me, Flynn was the better pick than Rubio anyway because he's stronger, a better defender, and tougher. He was somewhat of an insurance policy that turned into a key franchise piece to build around Al Jefferson. Like Evans, Minnesota's obscurity makes it hard for Flynn to be noticed. But how ever under the radar his start to the season is, he is producing.

This brings me to the main attraction; the reason behind this post. Of course, I'm talking about Mr. "3-guard" himself: Brandon Jennings. He has done everything but chisel his name on the Rookie of the Year trophy, and it's only been two weeks. He has an uncanny knack for using screens, and is the best at it other than Paul, Williams (Deron), and Nash. Yes, already. But I'd like to focus on his moxie. Whether you agree or disagree with his choice to eschew college, no one can deny the impact it's had on his mental toughness. Playing in Italy forced Jennings to grow up quickly; and he had to hang on to his inner belief in himself. It's that type of confidence that intrigues me about him. He was barely getting minutes; yet still somehow knew he would not just play in the NBA, but be extremely effective. Jennings' situation combines elements from the previous three I mentioned. Like Evans to the Kings, he goes to a team starving for a star. Like Lawson in Denver, he gets to learn from a tough, experienced point guard (Head Coach Scott Skiles, not Luke Ridnour). And like Minnesota, the Bucks just aren't that good of a team; so Jennings gets to play significant minutes in insignificant games.

Jennings is the kind of point guard that's indefensible. He's unpredictable. Once he clears the pick, the floor becomes a myriad of options for him and his teammates. And somehow, the Knicks couldn't find a use for a player like that. You better be good, Toney Douglas.

With these four rookies, in addition to the other young lead guards in the Association (Rondo, Rose, etc.), it's becoming clearer by the day that point guard is now the most important position in the NBA. It was evident once Jameer Nelson went down with injury last year. And if anyone can't see the wizardry Chris Paul has done with the Hornets the past two seasons, then they must believe that Mo Peterson and Devin Brown are underrated. These point guard battles will be fun to watch for the next decade. Oh, Jennings should have kept the flat top.


No comments: