Why Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis Are Top Backcourt Duo in Eastern Conference

By Michael Terrill
Gary Dineen/Getty Images

I wrote an article before the start of the 2012-13 NBA season describing why I thought Milwaukee Bucks guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis could form the best backcourt duo in the league. With the halfway point of the season quickly approaching, it is evident that Jennings and Ellis are for sure the top backcourt in the Eastern Conference, if not the entire NBA.

Jennings and Ellis have defied all odds as numerous league officials and fans believed general manager John Hammond’s experiment would not work. Many people did not think two shooters with small builds could co-exist together and still run a team. However, Jennings and Ellis are out to prove that not only can they co-exist but they can take the Bucks to a level the organization has not seen in over a decade.

How is this possible? Both players understand that an unselfish style of basketball will do wonders and that putting the team first is the only way to win against powerhouses such as the Miami Heat and New York Knicks.

“Everybody doesn’t want it to work,” Jennings said before training camp. “Everybody thinks it can’t work. But we came to an agreement we’ll sacrifice whatever just to win. Now that we have so much length (in the frontcourt rotation), people can’t talk about our size and it won’t be able to work.

“We have three 6-10 guys back there waiting to block anybody’s shot.”

Jennings looked into his crystal ball and saw what many Bucks enthusiasts predicted, Milwaukee would be one of the top blocking teams this season. As of right now, the Bucks lead the NBA in blocks per game (7.50) which is far above everybody else. This includes Larry Sanders’ league-leading 3.12 blocks per game.

Why should Jennings and Ellis be considered the best backcourt duo in the East? They rank sixth and seventh respectively in combined points, assists and rebounds per game. Jennings is first in the NBA in steals (1.93) and fifth in points (18.6), ninth in assists (6.0) and 18th in rebounds (3.6) per game in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Ellis is fourth in the conference in points (18.8), 12th in assists (5.6), 16th in rebounds (3.7) and fifth in steals (1.81).

The only other two guards on the same team in the East that can come close to this is New York’s Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith.

Milwaukee’s dynamic duo still have plenty of work to do this season to get the team back in a prime position to storm the top of the East as the Bucks are currently the seventh seed with a 23-19 record. However, with a new head coach, a solid game plan and players that are willing to do whatever it takes to win, there is no reason why Milwaukee cannot step it up and take the Eastern Conference by storm.

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