Most of the rookie hype that doesn't go to Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans usually finds its way to Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings.
After Jennings dropped 55 on the Warriors in November, many concluded Golden State made a mistake by passing up Jennings to draft guard Stephen Curry with the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA draft. But as the season has played out, it's looking as if the Warriors didn't make out too badly after all, especially based on the statistics.
The two match up tonight at Oracle Arena.
"Any given night, Steph's flirting around with a triple-double," Warriors second-year guard Anthony Morrow said. "Everybody knows he can score. I think he's surprising a lot of people. He makes shots off the dribble, passes, rebounds. He's a little better defender, he's a little better in every category than people think. I think he's right up there with Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings."
Curry, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound combo guard, likely will defend the 6-1, 169-pound Jennings when the two are on the court together, pitting Jennings' strength against Curry's weakness.
Curry and his teammates had a hard time stopping Jennings on Nov. 14. Actually, they didn't stop him at all. Jennings exploded for 29 points in the third quarter en route to the most points by an NBA rookie since Earl Monroe had 56 in February 1968.
Already tough to defend because of his speed and quickness, Jennings caught fire from the outside, knocking down 7 of 8 3-pointers and punishing the Warriors for, as he said, "going under the screens."
Even though Jennings has struggled of late, averaging 10.5 points per game on 26.9 percent shooting in January, the Warriors have the worst defense in the NBA and are prone to giving up a big game.
How can they keep Jennings from going off this time?
"Just try," Curry said. "He got wherever he wanted to last time. It's kind of embarrassing. I think we have a different strategy for ball screens, which is where he got all his shots from. Provide a different look so he won't be as comfortable as he was last time."
One difference between this meeting and the last is that the Bucks are going to have to guard Curry. He's been a key offensive threat for the Warriors lately, averaging 15.5 points per game on 53.6 percent shooting in January. He's made 12 of his last 19 3-pointers.
Over the last month-plus, Curry has been able to coexist with guard Monta Ellis, even taking some of the pressure off the team leader. His ability to complement Ellis was a big reason the Warriors drafted him over Jennings, who is more of a true point guard.
Because Curry has more size and a better outside shot, plus he can pass, the Warriors can use him to play both guard positions. That was a priority for Ellis' backcourt mate. Plus, the Warriors valued Curry's three years of college. Jennings played one season overseas after high school before entering the draft.
"He's getting better every day," coach Don Nelson said of Curry. "Couldn't be happier with him."
Curry said Jennings and Evans deserve the attention they've received because of what they've accomplished already.
Curry said he checks the box scores daily to see how the other rookies are doing. And don't be fooled, this game is circled on Curry's calendar.
"I don't approach the game any different," Curry said of his matchups with other rookie guards, "but you want to just play well and try not to let them get off and make you look bad."
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Straight to the point
Statistical comparison of rookie point guards Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings:
Minutes 32.2 34.2
Points 12.4 18.0
FG% 46.0 38.9
3FG% 43.3 39.3
FT% 83.3 81.5
Assists 4.4 6.0
Rebounds 3.7 3.7
Steals 1.8 1.0
Turnovers 2.5 2.7
Fouls 3.4 2.4