Bucks

How Brandon Jennings Is Responsible for the Current Bucks’ Culture

There was a time when the Milwaukee Bucks were not serious contenders for the playoffs, much less an NBA title.  With multiple years picking in the lottery, the Milwaukee Bucks missed on many opportunities.  For example, Milwaukee drafted Yi Jianlian with the sixth overall pick in 2007.  The next year, they took Joe Alexander with the eighth overall pick.  Both players had forgettable careers, not just with the Bucks but also in the NBA as a whole.  It was their 2009 first round pick, Brandon Jennings, though, who Bucks’ fans have to thank for their current culture.

Jennings Brought a Glimpse of Hope

Brandon Jennings: NBA draft fashion photo gallery - ESPN

When the Milwaukee Bucks made Brandon Jennings the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, they had just finished their fifth straight losing season.  In that time, their highest win total came in the 2005-06 season.  They went 40-42 and made the playoffs in the woeful Eastern Conference.  The season before they drafted Jennings, Milwaukee went 34-48 and had two first-round busts fresh in their mind.

Jennings provided an immediate relief for a fanbase starved for young talent to believe in.  In his rookie season, he averaged 15.5 points and 5.7 assists as he helped lead the Bucks to a 46-36 record and a playoff berth.

It did not take long for fans to get behind Jennings.  In just his seventh career game, he became the ninth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in a game.  On November 14, 2009, he dropped 55 points on the Golden State Warriors.  Jennings was 21-34 from the floor (7-8 from three) and 6-8 from the free throw line.  What made this performance all the more amazing was that he was held scoreless in the first quarter.

Bucks In Six

Today, “Bucks in Six” is a rallying cry for all Milwaukee Bucks’ fans.  For years, it was used jokingly as the Bucks went through a long stretch of not making the playoffs, or being eliminated in the first round.  The origin of the phrase, though, came from Brandon Jennings.

In 2013, the Milwaukee Bucks, once again, finished the season below .500.  However, their 38-44 record was good enough to get them into the playoffs.  Even though many did not believe they could knock off the favored Miami Heat, Brandon Jennings was not having any of the disbelief.  When asked about his confidence going into the series, he replied, “Bucks in six.”

The Bucks, of course, lost the series to the Heat.  In fact, they did not make it out of the first round of the playoffs until Coach Budenholzer’s first season in Milwaukee.  The phrase, however, lived on.  Every time the Bucks made the playoffs, fans (often times jokingly) expressed Bucks in Six as their predictions.

This postseason, the Milwaukee Bucks fell behind 2-0 to the Brooklyn Nets, they came back to tie the series in Milwaukee.  The phrase ceased being a joke and became an actual prediction.  The Bucks won the series in seven games, not six.  In the Eastern Conference Finals, though, they did rally from a 1-0 hole to win the series in six games.  Now, in the Finals, the Bucks lead 3-2 after trailing 2-0 after the first two games.  Once again, Bucks in Six is a real possibility.

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The Trade that Brought Khris Middleton

Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton in search of consistency

After the 2013 season, it was apparent that Brandon Jennings and the Bucks were headed for a split.  Instead of losing him to free agency, the Bucks decided to trade him to the Detroit Pistons.  In return, the Bucks received Brandon Knight, Viacheslov Kravtsov, and Khris Middleton.

Krovtsov was immediately traded to Phoenix for Caron Butler, and Brandon Knight enjoyed a good season and a half in Milwaukee before he, too, was traded to Phoenix.  However, Khris Middleton has remained and has been a vital part of the Bucks’ playoff run.

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It is not hard to imagine how the Bucks’ post-season may have ended with Khris Middleton.  Even with all of the super-human feats Giannis Antetokounmpo has achieved in this run, all of them would be for naught if not for the slick-shooting of Khris Middleton.  A two-time All-Star, Middleton has established himself as the perfect player to pair with Giannis.

Without Brandon Jennings, he might not be here.

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