The Milwaukee Bucks have been one of the most surprising NBA teams this year, as the Bucks currently have a record of 16-13 and are the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference as of today. However, it is well known that they have a very interesting roster, headlined by Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, both scoring guards, who will both likely be free agents at the end of the year. Ellis is expected to decline his player option and be an unrestricted free agent and Jennings will be a restricted free agent, if he is not resigned by the end of the season. Many were surprised when the Bucks did not offer Jennings a contract extension during the off-season, but they are trying to gauge his market value and are deciding whether or not he is worth spending big time money on and worth building the team around. Whatever they decide could dictate this team’s future for the next couple of years.
It seems pretty obvious who they should go forward with, Brandon Jennings. Jennings is far younger, has more potential and has room to grow into an All-Star. Ellis is a fantastic, but inefficient scorer and an underrated distributor, but as of now, he seems to have peaked. With both players undersized and unable to play effective defense and with both of them most effective with the ball in their hands, their partnership will never work. It seems that the team will in all likelihood pick one and build around that player and it should be Jennings. Jennings can be a franchise cornerstone and could be a top-two player on a great team, while Ellis would be best utilized as an elite bench scorer on a contending team, a la Jason Terry, during his prime for the Dallas Mavericks.
Jennings is already a great scorer, although inefficient, like Ellis, but is able to create his own shot whenever and wherever he wants and is able to get to the rim anytime, as he is simply too fast for anyone to guard. He is not a great defender, but has the speed and size to be able to at least slow down other point guards, which is more than most guards can say, but extra effort is needed. Besides defense, he does have further weaknesses; poor shot selection, ball-hogging tendencies and he could further improve his shooting, but he is only 23 years old, has not entered his prime and is talented enough to improve significantly in all aspects. He has the talent to become one of the best guards in the NBA.
When it comes to money, Brandon Jennings should receive around 9-11 million a season, just like Jrue Holliday and Stephen Curry. He may not be at their level yet, but the Milwaukee Bucks are a small market team and it would simply not be smart to let a potential star get away, as big-time free agents will not go to Milwaukee. Unless another team gives him an outlandish offer, the Bucks must keep Jennings, as there is no telling when they could get another star-level player. He has a lot to work on, but he has the time and talent to reach his incredible potential.
So when it comes down to it, the decision is not so difficult at all for Milwaukee. Jennings may be frustrating at times, showing signs of brilliance and flashes of stupidity, but he is four years younger¸ has more potential and will cost less than Ellis, who will be asking for at least 11 million a year, which is the number of his player option, that he will most likely decline. Their numbers are nearly identical across the board, but Ellis is a known commodity, while Jennings has all the talent in the world, he just needs to refine his skills. It should be a no brainer, but the simplest choices are often ignored in the NBA, however they should choose Brandon Jennings. There is a chance that they could go another route and decide to save their money and let both players walk, but that is a different story and an unlikely one at that. Regardless, when it comes to the Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings debate, Brandon Jennings is the only smart choice.