'Exploratory' Look At Jennings V. Collison

A Jennings/Gooden-for-Marion swap works. But it's difficult to envision the Bucks coveting Marion and this scenario would likely need a third team involved. Meanwhile, while DB.com is told Dallas has 'exploratory interest' in Jennings, it's also worth exploring just how much better he is than Darren Collison. We do so inside:

Late Tuesday night, Marc Stein tweeted that Dallas has a "level of interest" in Brandon Jennings, the Milwaukee Bucks point guard. Jennings, as a name, certainly fits in the "splashy acquisition category'' and would seem to fulfill Mark Cuban's goal of attaining a player who would figure to be top-three in the Dallas Mavericks rotation.

(We've got a Premium Mavs breakdown of "futures-type players'' that fit Cuban's vision - a list that includes Jennings -- here.)

On the surface, Jennings is only 23, has star potential as the 10th pick in the 2009 draft and averaged nearly 20 points per game last season. His ceiling is clearly high, so much so that some are moved to argue that he is an upgrade over Darren Collison, who the Mavericks clearly do not trust as their primary PG yet.

But a deeper look at Jennings' numbers give some pause on his potential acquisition. He's a volume shooter (read: poor shooter) with a career average from the field of .393 and having only eclipsed the .400-mark once during an entire season. His numbers from the arc are no better, hitting only .349 from his career from downtown.

Darren Collison, on the other hand, has never had a season shooting less than .440 from the field and is hitting .482 on the year with Dallas and .400 from the arc.

As a passer, Jennings is middling at best, where his numbers are decidedly Collison-ian. He's a career 5.3 assist per game guy (6.3 per 36 minutes), with no decipherable trend, up- or downward, in those numbers.

Further, he turns the ball over far too much for a coach like Carlisle's liking, with a career 2.5 TO's per 36 minutes. Still, he manages to pick off his fair share of passes, netting nearly two steals per 36 minutes this season. For comparison's sake, Darren Collison's per 36-minute averages this season are 6.2 assists, 2.6 turnovers and a career-high 1.6 steals.

So how does Jennings get his numbers? Ball domination. To wit: he eats up about a quarter of the Bucks' possessions for his career and Milwaukee could see this as stifling to the growth of Monta Ellis, who has been rumored to be unhappy in Milwaukee.

Then why are the Mavericks interested in Jennings -- again, in at least an "exploratory'' way? The biggest reason is his considerable potential. His ceiling is that of a star and the hope would be that he could realize that potential with the help of Rick Carlisle, who has resurrected O.J. Mayo's game this season. Further, he is on an expiring contract, which makes him Plan Powder-friendly and as restricted free agent, gives Dallas a degree of asset control.
But what would Dallas give in return? Rumors circulate that Milwaukee would seek to dump former Maverick Drew Gooden, who has fallen out of favor and is due $6.7 million this season and next. For Milwaukee, such a move would allow Ellis to grow as the team's primary ball handler and gets them out of Gooden's contract.

A Jennings/Gooden for Shawn Marion swap works per NBA salary rules. However, it's difficult to envision a world where the Bucks covet Marion and this scenario would likely need a third team involved to satisfy Milwaukee.

But who? The Clippers, Rockets and Suns have been attached to many rumors circulating this deadline season, but naming any potential pieces involved would be pure speculation at this point.

a report titled Jennings Has 'Irreconcilable Differences' With Bucks isn't enough to fuel a move. Any Bucks attraction to Marion might not be, either. The fuel is the opinion of the Mavs on the margin between Jennings' talents and Collison's.

And at this moment, it's why we term the interest "exploratory.''

(DB.com has more up-to-the-minute trade news, game and practice coverage and exclusive interviews and analysis here.)

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