No one has ever accused Brandon Jennings of of playing timid and deferent throughout his eight NBA seasons, yet in his debut with the Wizards on Friday night against the Toronto Raptors, the big takeaway from him and others was that he didn't play with enough aggression.
The dynamic of trying to blend in to a team that was already very successful caused Jennings to clam up. He continuously passed up open outside shots and finished with zero points. It was his first game in a week and he looked understandably rusty.
It was an experience the 27-year-old says he will learn from.
"I’m glad I got this one out of the way. I wish we would have won of course, but I definitely know what I can do now. I have to be aggressive," he said following the 114-106 loss.
Jennings said John Wall and other teammates encouraged him throughout the game and afterwards to attack the basket and take open shots. They have played against him for years and know what he is capable of. He can play fast, push the pace and create for others.
“We want him to be a little bit more aggressive, look for his shot a little more," guard Bradley Beal said. "But it is always tough coming into a new situation. You do not want to come up here and look like you are jacking the ball, but we know him as scorer, we know him as a facilitator, and that is what we need him to do. We are confident in him. It is only one game. He has a good feel for it, so I think he will be better next game for sure.”
Much like Bojan Bogdanovic, who debuted with the Wizards last week following a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, things did not get off to an ideal start in Jennings' first game. But it didn't take long for Bogdanovic to make an impact and the Wizards will be patient with Jennings.
“He’s definitely in a tough position. He doesn’t really know exactly what we do," head coach Scott Brooks said. "He doesn’t really know the tendencies of the players. We’re going to work and we’re going to keep working with him and with our group. We have time. It’s not like it’s a one-game season. We still have 20 games to go, or 22 games to go. We want to keep improving as the season winds down. He’s going to be a big part of our success down the stretch.”
Jennings' most memorable moment was a turnover. He passed the ball way wide of Otto Porter and into the stands.
Jennings joked about that play after the loss when asked about the nice ovation he got from Wizards fans when he first checked in.
"I didn't really give them anything, really. The one ball that slipped and went into the third row, I was so embarrassed. So embarrassed," he said.
Despite his disappointing debut, Jennings will not be discouraged moving forward. He thinks the Wizards are a good fit for him and he's excited to be in a playoff race after leaving the lowly Knicks.
"I'm in the same position I was in New York, but just in a better system for me personally and with a team that actually plays together," he said.
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