The absence of Scott Skiles looks good on Brandon Jennings.
Yes, it's just two games. But it's two games in which Jennings averaged 32 points and 7.5 assists on 55 percent shooting.
Given the sample size, that's a definite possibility. But there's no denying Jennings is shooting and attacking with more confidence.
The point guard himself has even admitted (via Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com) as much:
"At first, it was tough for me, just the fact that Skiles was my coach my first four years in the league,” he said. “Of course, Boylan’s been here for the four years, too. But I know the first night, when we first had him, it was a little different looking on the sideline and [Skiles] wasn’t there. But Coach Boylan, he’s been here for four years, we’ve worked together in the summertime, so he knows my game and I know what to expect from him.
Continued Jennings: “I felt like I can do what I want. I’ve got my swagger now. I can clown around, dance, do what I want. I might end up changing my hair back again. I think just overall, the confidence that the team has. Everybody’s playing with confidence. Guys are just playing free. We’re not really thinking right now; we’re just hooping."
Milwaukee is visibly playing a lot looser on the offensive offensive end, no one player more so than Jennings.
It takes but a glance at the Bucks' offensive sets to see that, well, there really aren't any structured sets at all. Jennings and Monta Ellis have more freedom to attack in isolation, and we have seen more drive-and-kicks and a faster pace.
Simply put, there's been more freedom. Unconditional freedom.
Jennings himself (per Synergy Sports) has posted a combined average of 1.37 points per possession in Milwaukee's two most recent wins, his highest back-to-back posting of the season. Prior to now, he had eclipsed that 1.35 mark just once this season.
You should be, especially considering he averages just 0.9 points per possession on the season.
Again, we must stress that it has been just two games. Jennings, a 39.5 percent shooter for his career, is going to come back down to earth at some point. That much we know.
Yet that fall may not be as hard as most believe. Remember, that was a top-five defense he torched in Chicago. Not all of that is luck. Not when Jennings' confidence is at an all-time high.
Sure, Jennings has always been a confident player. As a shoot-first point guard in a league that values pass-first mentalities, you have to be.
Now, however, it seems that Jennings has found a coach in Boylan who is ready to fully embrace his skill set.
Skiles could be seen getting frustrated at times when Jennings would take too many shots or put up contested ones, and rightfully so. Point guards are supposed to be catalysts, first and foremost. Self-serving scorers aren't always appreciated at the position.
But Jennings is different. He's a rare combination of unselfish and egocentric. He wants to pass; you can see it. As he takes the ball into the paint, his head is always up.
That said, there are times when he seems to be fighting his urge to shoot. We saw none of that in the last two games.
Take one of the fast breaks he led late in the third quarter against the Bulls.
Instead of attacking the rim and looking for the layup or the opportunity to dish off to one of his teammates, he pulled up for a three.
As you can see, the Bucks essentially had a three-on-one (Joakim Noah was nowhere near the rim), a situation where a three-pointer is often frowned upon, especially when it originates from the hands of an inconsistent Jennings.
There was no hesitation here by the point man, though, and he simply spotted up without thinking twice.
That's the kind of freedom he needs, an unconditional green light that is actually absolute.
We know he's never been shy about shooting, but his potential was tempered by the fact that he was required to fight his instincts at least somewhat.
Such a notion appears to have gone out the window under Boylan, at least for now.
No disrespect is intended toward Skiles by any means. Jennings would be the first to admit it; he was the first to admit it.
But Boylan (who spent just as much time with Jennings as Skiles) seems to understand the point man better as a player and person, evidenced by his approach since taking over the team.
He seems to understand that a high-octane floor general like Jennings is best served not only running an uptempo offense, but running one that is devoid of set players.
Boylan seems to comprehend that running an offense that dictates his point guard make a majority of the decisions on the fly stands to bolster Jennings' confidence.
And having such freedom-laced responsibility has looked good on Jennings. Really good.
Just ask the Bulls. Or the Phoenix Suns. Jennings torched both of them without "thinking."
He did what we wanted, ran the offense as he saw fit and carved up the opposition as a result.
No wonder he has his "swagger now."
*All stats in this article are accurate as of January 10, 2013.