By Emmett Prosser Special to Published Nov 11, 2009 at 4:13 PM
It's impossible to evaluate the 2009-10 Milwaukee Bucks after only five games, but it is pretty clear Scott Skiles' crew isn't sulking about being shorthanded.

Shooting guard Michael Redd has played in just six quarters, yet the Bucks have won three of five contests.

Who knew?

Even the most optimistic of fans have to be impressed with the early returns of the organization's move to grab the quick and confident Brandon Jennings. Jennings has already been dubbed "a left-handed Chris Paul" by TNT analyst Charles Barkley ... and not just because they both wear No. 3.

It shouldn't be a shock that Jennings is pushing the speed limit and showing off all-star-like talent. He promised the Bucks, who drafted him No. 10 overall, that he would run the transition game in beep-beep mode.

However, Jennings has also shown the ability to slow the tempo when needed. He's shown surprising control and poise for a rookie.

But perhaps Jennings' biggest asset to the Bucks has been the energy he brings to the floor each night. His youthful boost has been contagious. Almost all of his teammates are getting involved. This hasn't been a one-man show.

"The way he plays, it brings energy to the whole team," said forward Hakim Warrick. "He gets you going."

Warrick came of the bench to score a total of 30 points in the Bucks' first two games before being elevated to the starting lineup.

With Redd out of action, many of the Bucks' other key reserves have also joined in.

Often non-existent last season, Skiles' new-look bench has scored at least 40 points in three games. The reserves have averaged 36 points per game.

"We're definitely more versatile and more athletic than we were last year," said Charlie Bell of the second group. "Defensively, we're pretty good, too."

Rookie Jodie Meeks hit 5 of 7 three-point shots and scored 19 points off the bench Saturday in a victory over the Knicks. Ersan Ilyasova added 13 rebounds. Guard Luke Ridnour has averaged 10 points a game since Redd injured his knee.

"One of the reasons I signed here is that this team is better than people want to say," Warrick added. "I think it's a deep team."

National media throughout the league isn't buying Warrick's view. Many publications have projected the Bucks last in the Central Division and the Eastern Conference. However, if the Bucks continue to get key contributions off the bench while Redd's balky knee heals, an early trip to the basement doesn't seem likely.

"I'm kind of okay with being under the radar," Warrick said. "We're going to shock a lot of people. We're going to be a lot better than people think."

Emmett Prosser Special to

Emmett Prosser is a former sports producer at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online and has covered the Brewers, Bucks and Marquette basketball in many capacities for 13 years.

Prosser also signed a year's worth of 10-day contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers' media relations department after graduating from Xavier University so he could get three-point shooting tips from NBA great Mark Price. The son of an English teacher and former basketball coach, Prosser attended Marquette high school.

In his spare time, Prosser enjoys live music and fooling people into making them believe he can play the drums. He also serves on the board of directiors for United Cerebral Palsy.