AP Photo/Jeffery Phelps

ONE: I normally do the Aussie Roundup first, but there’s no denying that the top of the news today – and arguably the whole week – belongs to Mr Brandon Jennings. After watching the Pistons pull off a nice come-from-behind victory in Washington, I went out shopping this afternoon feeling very content. I came back home to check the box scores, and as I always do when Milwaukee is playing, head straight to Bogut’s numbers to update BogutWatch. When I saw the 129-125 final score I was stunned, and started licking my lips at the prospect of a Bogut demolition. Could the Bogometer possible get any higher right now? Then I saw the top scorer for the game and I literally froze.

Brandon Jennings… 55 points… The rookie… Selected 10th in the draft… The guy who’s already looking like the ROY without the need to do something as astounding as this… The guy propping up a team while its best player is out injured… The Bucks now have two guys capable of 50 point outburst? The Bucks now have one of the most lethal scoring point guards in the league, along with one of its best shooters and best centers? The Milwaukee Bucks are 5-2?! Brandon Jennings scored 55 fucking points?!?! He scored 29 points in the third quarter?! Bogut’s career-high best is 29 points!! Brandon Jennings had Andrew Bogut’s career high in one quarter?!!?! What the fuck is going on here?!?!?!

That all went through my mind in about two seconds. Then I hit the tube so I could see it for myself.

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I was going to write something here about extreme fortune of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise, who lets face it, has had very little to boast about for as long as I can remember. It was with great amusement then, that I read the first two paragraphs of Brew Hoop’s recap of the game, who read my mind and summed the situation up perfectly.

My twenty years as a Bucks fan have been, at least superficially, a disappointment.  Too many 50-loss seasons ending in mid-April.  Disappointing draft picks and bloated contracts.  "Stars" that don’t shine as bright as every other team’s stars.  Coaches that talk a good game but can’t seem to coach one.  So if you’re a recent convert or a casual fan, understand where I’m coming from.  I might love the game too much to give it up, but as a fan I’ve got some serious baggage.  Cynicism, pessimism, paranoia…it’s all there lurking in the shadows.

So quite honestly I don’t know how to deal with Brandon Jennings.  I just watched him score 55 points in his seventh professional game, and quite honestly I’m working through some things.  Like, is this really happening?  Is it possible the universe is playing an awful, awful trick on us poor Bucks fans?  Or is this just what it feels like to have a superstar drop into our lap?  And can we just get him to sign a max contract extension now, rather than waiting another two plus years?

As an Aussie with a natural vested interest in the Bucks, I’m excited to see their future looking a little brighter. It seems as though they have managed to draft a dynamic scoring point guard who thrives in pressure situations, is not afraid to take the big shots, and has a game that is looking increasingly rounded every time I watch him. He is seven games into his pro career. His 55 points today unfairly overshadows the 32 he had against Denver earlier in the week, which was every bit as impressive owing to the superior opponent and the tight finish. I watched him dismantle Detroit two weeks ago, and despite looking raw, I couldn’t help but be impressed by his decision making and his efficiency. They are two prime qualities you want in your point guard, and two qualities you sure as hell don’t expect in a rookie point guard.

For the record, here are the records Jennings broke/approached today (courtesy Inside Hoops):
- Brandon Jennings scored a career-high 55 points, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s (Lew Alcindor) rookie record of 51 points, which was set on Feb. 21, 1970. Jennings is only the second Bucks’ rookie, and the third Bucks player (joining Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Redd) to score 50 points in a game. Jennings’ 55-point game marks the 13th 50-point game in Bucks history.
- Brandon Jennings’ 55 points are the most by an NBA rookie since Earl Monroe had 56 on February 13, 1968. They’re also the second-most by a player under 21. The most was 56 scored by LeBron James on March 20, 2005.
- Brandon Jennings scored 29 points in the third quarter on 12-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range. The 29 points were the most points for an opposing player against Golden State in a quarter. On Dec. 3, 2003, Voshon Lenard of the Denver Nuggets scored 26 against the Warriors.
- Jennings was just two points shy of tying the Bucks’ record for most points scored in a game by a single player. Michael Redd holds the record with 57 against Utah on Nov. 11, 2006. He scored zero points in the first quarter, 10 in the second, 29 in the third and 16 in the fourth quarter.

So the question is, how serious do we need to take the Milwaukee Bucks? As impressive as their 5-2 start is, it has been a pretty soft schedule so far – Denver was the biggest test (which they passed), but they lost away to two playoff teams in Philly and Chicago. Over the next two weeks they face Dallas, San Antonio and Orlando (with a four-game road trip sandwiched between). So I’m inclined to wait another two weeks before proclaiming them a playoff lock, let alone a contender in the East. And no, this isn’t me being a sore loser just because I said they were “fu**ed” in our Intriguing Storylines post.

TWO: A pretty big week for the Aussie Roundup. First of all, Nathan Jawai has been given the starting role in the absence of Al Jefferson (who was given family leave). Big Nate put up a solid 10-4 against Dallas, shooting 4-9 in 26 minutes. Against Memphis today he only had 2 points in 25 minutes – probably because Ryan Hollins was pretty damn effective with 15 & 8 on 7/9 shooting, and probably because Corey Brewer felt it necessary to jack up 19 shots and only connect on 7. While Jawai’s starting nod has been a positive, from an Aussie perspective, T-Wolves fans are struggling to see the bright side. This from the only T-Wolves blog I actually read:

On the flip side of this equation is the Wolves. They are so untalented that it really doesn’t matter what they choose to run, it will look like poo. I know that the Laker folks like to talk about the Triangle Offense like it’s some sort of magical voodoo but it’s really just a triple post motion based offense that you could use in a high school program.  The reason why the Wolves look like they do on offense is because they suck.  With Al Jefferson at somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% and Kevin Love on the bench, this team has zero stand-alone starting-quality rotation players.”

And how about that Bogut? In case you weren’t watching, the Bogometer soared to 91% (“Unstoppable”) after their win against Denver. AB is now averaging 16-9 on the season, with 2 assists and 1.7 blocks to boot. For me, right now there are very few centers in the league playing better. Dwight is obviously doing his thing (despite being quiet by his standards), Chris Kaman is continuing to dominate (22 & 9 on the season so far), and Andrew Bynum is quietly averaging 20-11. After those three I’ve got Bogut, followed by Brook Lopez (who’s team happens to suck) and maybe Ben Wallace (more out of surprise than anything else). Which all points to one thing – the Bogey Man is seriously deserving of an All-Star berth this season. The banner is up again, and I’m calling on all Aussies to get behind Bogut and put him on your ballot. An Australian in the All-Star game? Man, that would be amazing, and you don’t need me to tell you it’s never happened before.

Meanwhile over in Clutch City, David Anderson has been pretty quiet of late, thanks to a diminishing number of minutes. His 13 point, 5 rebound effort against Dallas was the highlight of his week (even though it was a bad loss), with the following two games amounting to a total of 2 points and 2 rebounds (zero steals, blocks or assists). The important thing to note is he’s still getting at least 6-7 minutes every game, even when the other Rockets “big men” (hardly) are playing well. So it’s too early to start questioning whether he is falling out of favour with the coaching staff. We will watch those minutes carefully though.

THREE: You may have heard the news: Lebron James will be changing his number from 23 to 6 next season, out of respect for Michael Jordan. But the King didn’t stop there. He wants to lead a movement to get Jordan’s number retired by the league so no one can wear it. In typical Lebron fashion, he’s being very selfless about it: "I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it." Of course Lebron, because if you changed your number and everyone else kept wearing it then you’d look really stupid. But in reality, you look stupid already for suggesting this.

The question that bugs me is, why now? You knew what Jordan did for the league, even before you entered the NBA. Why didn’t you choose a different number to start with “our of respect” for MJ? Why now? Just because you feel like it? For the record, I’m completely against this. I understand why they did it for Jackie Robinson in baseball – that was historical significance beyond the realms of sporting achievement. You retire a number like that because of its meaning, which it will forever hold. But #23? What happens when someone better than Jordan comes along? Will they have their number retired across the league by default? That Jordan is the “greatest of all time” isn’t even a given in everyone’s book. Some people will still argue Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain. But of course Lebron has grown up idolizing MJ, at least one (or two) generations removed from all the other legends of the game. Feel free to change your number Lebron, maybe you’ll finally top Kobe on the best-sellers list that way. But don’t force everyone else to.

FOUR: Some of my fav clips of the week, in case you haven’t seen them:

Shannon Brown’s hops are ridiculous. Can we please get him in the dunk contest?
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Ty Lawson posterizing Mbenga, made all the more entertaining by Mark Jackon’s epic pun. It’s sickeningly good.
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Dwyane Wade, in what Lebron called “probably a top 10 dunk of all time”. There’s so much attitude in this dunk I’m almost personally offended.
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Finally, watch for Nash’s reaction to this foul. Still has me LOLing hard.

FIVE: Don’t look now but the Platypus is coming. The Pacers have won four straight, today’s massive win against Boston being the cherry on the cake (check Indy Cornrows for the low down, and Red’s Army for amusing Celtics sore-loser bitching). They’re just one of a bunch of about six teams out East who could end up anywhere between 8th and 14th, and when you look at their line-up it kinda seems like Danny Granger + everyone else. But there are a couple of reasons to get excited if you’re a Pacers fan. One is Roy Hibbert who is turning into a walking double-double. I knew a spot in the starting line up would see his numbers increase (if I had a fantasy team, I would have drafted him… but I don’t) but I didn’t expect him to be near the league leaders in blocks so soon. He’s is becoming a very underrated defensive beast. And then there’s Dahntay Jones, who is putting us in the very awkward position of having to admit he’s actually a pretty decent basketball player. Because honestly, I think Dahntay Jones is a f**kwit. Watching him in the Dallas and Lakers series last playoffs made me want to punch him. But maybe getting away from JR Smith and K-Mart and all those other Denver dickheads has forced him to concentrate more on basketball and less on being a f**kwit. Whatever the reason, it’s working, and he’s packing a serious punch for that Pacers team. 

SIX: A few random links to keep you amused.

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