Chances are, Rubio wouldn't have been able to stop Jennings no matter where he was.
The 19-year-old is simply too quick. That was the prevailing impression among those who watched Jennings play. The viewing audience was just like the majority of hoops fans out there, largely unfamiliar with Jennings game because he left to play in Italy after playing his high school ball at Dominguez Hills in Compton and the esteemed Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. But as he faced off mostly against Syracuse's power-packed point guard Jonny Flynn, Jennings impressed in a big way during the full-court scrimmage.
The danger of this format, of course, is that's it's only a loose version of a real game and hardly the place for players like Jennings, Flynn or UCLA's Jrue Holiday to show how they can run a team and make the most of teammates. It's perfect for a guy like Jennings, who didn't help Flynn with the question of whether he can defend and had little trouble getting around Holiday from what I saw either. Most importantly, his shot was far more accurate on this day than it was in his last two Euro League seasons in which he shot 37 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
Now as much as Jennings stood out, the Kings - who were looking at these players as prospects for their No. 4 pick in the June 25 draft - must consider their specific need when it comes to type of point guard. Jennings described himself as a "pass-first" point guard afterward, but that wasn't evident during the workout as he was clearly looking for his shot and putting his one-on-one skills on display. The media was privy to the final 20-or-so minutes of the session, with the curtain down for a good time before that which certainly included action that will affect the team's decision-making process.
Holiday was in for his second workout with the Kings, but the spotlight was off of him mainly because he was faced off against Notre Dame point guard Kyle McAlarney. The winner of this main event, during and after, was Jennings. But because there was no extended video permitted to be shot (no surprise there considering the high stakes of this kind of face off), I decided to take verbal notes while watching the scrimmage. For the most curious of you out there, here is a play-by-play that is somewhat revealing. The bolded line was the highlight of the outing.
- Jonny misses jumper over Jennings
- Flynn and Jennings guarding each other, Holiday with Notre Dame guy
- Jennings denies Flynn, plays tight
- Jennings gets free off screen, hits jumper in the lane
- Jennings short on jumper top of key against Flynn
- Flynn misses drive,
- Jennings takes charge from big, nope they called block
- Holiday rotates on Jennings, who stutter steps gets around him right baseline and hits layup - no problem getting by Holiday
- Notre Dame guy hits jumper left baseline from Holiday assist
- Jennings loses Flynn on pick, finds guy for dunk coming left
- Jennings steps back, almost three top of arc over Flynn
- Jennings misses jumper over Flynn, left wing,
- Holiday dunk on the break, Jennings can't get there for LeBron-style block (only lower)
- Flynn misses layup in traffic, Jennings the other way gets blocked - layup by Holiday
- Jennings loses Flynn on screen, misses layup baseline
- Flynn loses Jennings on screen up top, finds big man down low for layup
- Holiday big board in traffic with two others, finds big left wing - 20-footer good
- Flynn left wing, 20-footer
- Holiday pull-up left wing, good over big
- Flynn floats right, flip pass left wing, three-pointer good
- Flynn goes at Jennings in the lane, Jennings contests, and Flynn misses a five-footer
- Guard hits a long two over Holiday coming off a screen
- Jennings top of key stepback miss over Flynn
- Holiday right wing, finds big through traffic, layup good
- Holiday goes hard for layup, Jennings contests and Holiday misses
- Holiday driving left, finds Flynn on right wing, who buries a three
- Jennings misses three from top, somewhat contested
- Jennings takes a spill in the three-man weave, gets quick breather and is back at it again
- Holiday throws to self on three-man weave off backboard for the dunk.
As a final note regarding Jennings postgame rant about Rubio, Jason Jones points out in today's piece that there were some discrepancies and omitted information regarding his one game played against Rubio. What's more, Jennings makes it clear on his Twitter page that he was playing the hype game himself. And if you want some comical context, give this Jennings blog a read. It was written just after the game against Rubio and comes with a much softer tone, including a line about how he looks "forward to being his friend for many years to come."
For those who missed the Jennings/Flynn press confererence that caused quite a stir, I've included the portion in which he rips into Rubio again here. The first Rubio mention is around the 1:30 mark, but it gets real juicy around 5:05, when Jennings is asked about the one time he faced off with Rubio (Flynn is on the left, Jennings on the right)
- Sam Amick