If you asked most folks around the NBA that question — the one in the headline — 80 percent or more would have answered Jennings.
And then this weekend happened.
And now it is time to reassess what each player might be worth on the free agent market this summer.
Robinson is making himself millions. Jennings, who was swept out of the playoffs today, cost himself a fortune.
If you look at the top shooting guards who will be available on the free agent market, you have Jennings (OK, he is a point guard, but he is a high-volume shooting PG), Nate Robinson, O.J. Mayo (player option he will turn down), J. R. Smith (player option he’d he nuts to turn down, which could likely lead to his departure from the Knicks, as detailed here), Kevin Martin, J.J. Redick, Gerald Henderson and possibly Monta Ellis, who has an $11 million player option (that he’d be an idiot to decline, IMHO).
You want to rank those guys after what we saw Sunday? (To his credit, Moke Hamilton already had Nate ranked above Jennings in his latest free agent rankings).
Robinson singlehandedly brough the Bulls back from the dead, scoring 12 straight points as the Bulls erased a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes and went on top defeat the Brooklyn Nets 142-134 in 3OT.
Robinson’s line: 29 minutes, 23 shots (of which he made 14), four assists, two steals and a plus-19 when he was on the court. It was the greatest fourth-quarter performance in Bulls playoff history since Michael Jordan was with the team in 1998. (Yes, that is a mouthful. But it is true). NaterTot is averaging 17.3 points in the playoffs (in 23 minutes) on 57 percent shooting.
Robinson scored in double figures 17 times in the Bulls’ final 21 regular-season games, including games of 35, 34, 22, 22 and 20. He was a sparkplug for the Bulls throughout the season, just as he has been throughout his 8-year NBA career. He is always a popular player with the fans, but he is not always the most stable player (I remember covering his first game with a Knicks as a rookie and he threw himself an alley-oop pas of the backboard, which Larry Brown yanked him for immediately.)
He is a three-time winner of the Slam Dunk contest, but he has worn the uniforms of the Bulls, Warriors, Thunder, Celtics and Knicks over the past four seasons.
He is playing for the veteran’s minimum in Chicago this season.
And then we have Jennings, who has the words “Young Money” tattooed on his back.
Not quite as ostentatious as having “Chosen One” tattooed across your back, but we’ll cut LeBron some slack on that one. This article is not about him.
Jennings was atrocious Sunday in what may have been his final game with the Bucks. He shot 1-for-7 from the field with one assist and two turnovers. Coach Jim Boylan used him for only 22 minutes — and when your coach gives up on you in your final game before you hit free agency (he is restricted, and the Bucks will have the right to match any offer), it is not a good thing.
Jennings will be looking for an $8 million per-year contract this summer. So will Mayo.
Robinson will be looking for as much money as he can get, but he’ll probably end up getting less than both Mayo and Jennings. One fact of NBA life is that after you establish yourself as a low-cost, high-maintenence player, for whatever reason, the money doesn’t come as easily.
But then again, maybe there is a team out there willing to give Robinson something north of $6 million — or maybe even more if it is a short deal of 2-3 years.
It’s always tough to tell what a player’s market value will be, but Robinson is certainly about 10 times more valuable than Landry Fields, who landed a three-year, $20 million deal from the Raptors.
As free agency approaches, and as long as the Bulls keep going strong, Robinson is the one player to watch to see how a player can raise or lower his value through what he does in the playoffs.
His Game 1 line was 26 points on 8-for-20 shooting (with just two assists).
His Game 2 line was 8 points on 3-for-15 shooting (with five assists).
His Game 3 line was 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting with four turnovers that offset his series-high eight assists.
You want that guy anchoring your backcourt next season? Good luck with that.
I’d take Nate Robinson over “Young Money” in a heartbeat. (More on that here in this podcast with Yahoo Sports Radio).
Who is a better player?
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Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.