Monday, June 22, 2009

Moving Day

From henceforth you can find all your Bucksketball related material at our new location:

Bucksketball is now Milwaukee's affiliate in the Truehoop Network of blogs. If you haven't checked out the other ones, you really should. A lot of great stuff in there.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More Workout Reports

The Bucks brought in another group on Friday. This time there was more of a big man feel.

Jordan Hill - I’m coming around on the big man. There has to be a reason everyone is writing such nice things about him right now, right? I’ll bite the bullet and move him up to the top three.

B.J. Mullens – I’ve been fairly vocal with my distaste for Mullens, but with him I think it’s all about perspective. If a team drafts B.J. Mullens and expects him to be a very good player, then they have made a huge mistake. If they are drafting him with the expectation to be a good backup and energy guy, then they’ll probably be happy. The Bucks don’t really want that at number ten though. I hope.

Levance FieldsFields got the job done at Pittsburgh. He had a scrappy style and took a lot of big shots. He was a little overweight and a little overrated, but when it really counted in the NCAA Tournament he hit the big shots. He has a commitment from Orlando apparently for a spot on their summer league team. I’m okay with that.

Slava Kravtsov – On his profile there is a note that says on offense Kravtsov “…looks very limited, not always looking ready or interested in catching passes…” That is something you don’t read everyday. He’s not interested in offense. Hm. Nevertheless he’s seven feet tall and stands a chance to be one of the last selections in the second round.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Buck Hits: 6/19

If you say “Buck Hits” fast it sounds like buckets. I like that.

Some quick hits on the Bucks while I mull who to throw’s support to in next week’s draft.

Michael Hunt chimes in today with some words on the Bucks, the draft and their future. Some good and some bad in here. He wants the Bucks to dump Jefferson or Redd, but it takes two to tango. They tried as hard as they could to lose RJ at the deadline and no one was biting. He mentions the Wizards and their number five pick as something to shoot for, but the Wizards would never take on any additional salary right now. I love his thoughts on the importance of assets though. The NBA becomes more and more of an asset game every year. That’s what makes this draft important. Between Luc Richard, Joe Alexander and the two picks this year the Bucks should have a nice little haul. Assuming Alexander comes around that is. But between those four and the money coming off the books in two years, the semi-distant future doesn’t look as bleak. That’s why it is all about taking the best player available right now.

John Hollinger is not enthused about the Bucks chances of bringing back Charlie V. or Ramon Sessions.

It’s possible they could bring one of them back with a less dramatic overhaul, but even that will be difficult.

I think we all knew this for some time, but secretly hoped they’d find a way to save Sessions. No one really saw the Jefferson trade coming last year, so maybe John Hammond will pull of another shocker that will free up space. But even if he does, could Sessions play in the back-court with one of the point guards on the Bucks board? With the exception of Ty Lawson, all of the guys in play are below average shooters, would it even makes sense to keep Sessions then? Decisions decisions.

It sure feels like the Bucks are going point guard though. Gary Howard’s piece yesterday included a pretty clear statement from Hammond

“You would think, realistically, that one of them could be there for you,” Hammond said of the top five point guards in the draft, a group that likely includes Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Ricky Rubio, Flynn and Jennings. “If you talk about need vs. best player, because it is kind of heavy laden at the point guard spot, maybe we could fill both needs if the right player were there.”

Unusually strong words from him. He could still be playing possum, we’ll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

They Makin' Him Go To Rehab

(Forgive my attempt to recapture the magic of Amy Winehouse in my title today.)

Despite our focus this month, the NBA draft is not the most important part of the Milwaukee Bucks off-season. And no, the decisions the Bucks face on the futures of Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions are not the most important factors into the Bucks having a winning season next year. For those who really want to see the Bucks playing past next April the buzz word this whole off season will be rehabilitation.

And I’m not talking about Michael Redd.

While it’s important Redd comes back fully healed from his ACL tear, his process is much more cut and dry than what Andrew Bogut is facing. With Bogut’s injury there have been pluses and minuses.

Bogut’s injury is not a simple snip snip rehab rehab and move on. Injuries that involve long periods of rest and then making sure things look okay usually are a little trickier to deal with. That is why the plan keeps changing on Bogut’s rehabilitation. Originally there was a chance he would be okay after eight weeks. Then it was mid May. Now it is June 15 and Bogut is saying a month from this week is the goal.

But the problem has been recognized and there has been progress. Bogut is not suffering from an incurable mystery ailment ala Tracy McGrady. Back spasms are a mysterious bunch and much harder to treat than are stress fractures. The Bucks and Andrew Bogut have had a concrete idea of what has been wrong with him and how to get him right since February. Maybe they didn’t think it would take this long, but the treatment and rest appear to be taking care of the fracture.

The Bucks and Bogut can feel good in knowing that this injury is not the type that has lingered in other players. In the last few years Mark Madsen, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pape Sow, Matt Bullard and Scott Pollard have all been afflicted with this injury and were able to bounce back without a problem. With the exception of Aldridge this injury appears to target unathletic big men, and often white ones at that. If I were Tyler Hansbrough, I’d be getting this checked on regularly.

Unfortunately, it took the Bucks a few tries to figure out what was wrong with Bogut and that could be more of a long term issue than the injury itself. Nothing is more important to the success of professional athletes than the health of their bodies. But they aren’t doctors. When something feels off, they have to get checked out. When they get checked out and the doctor says nothing is wrong, their instinct is to play through whatever pain they are feeling and write it off as soreness. Athletes are held to a high standard. We expect them to “play through the pain” and “gut it out.” We stamp players soft if they miss time with anything less than a leg amputation. This especially rings true with our big men. They have to show up and take their pounding every day.

In Bogut’s case he tried doing that. But he knew it was more than common soreness. He had to repeat this process three times before the Bucks finally caught the problem. So the next time Bogut feels injured and the Bucks tell him it’s nothing too bad what is he going to think? Can he trust the Bucks medical staff in the future? Bogut is one of the toughest guys the Bucks have had in years, but this could potentially cause him to pull himself out of the lineup in the future if he’s feeling worse than the Bucks tell him he feels. If it is any consolation, this appears to be more common with this type of injury than others. Take for example, Scott Pollard in 2002.
“He received an MRI test last week to try and determine the reason for his aching back. Results were inconclusive. After undergoing another MRI yesterday, it was revealed that he has a stress fracture of the sacrum, a bone just above the tailbone. Pollard never thought the backache was serious enough to cause him to miss any playing time. ‘I was thinking it was something I would be able to shoot up and play with,’ he said.”
In general this is a tough injury to diagnose. And Bogut is not by any means a soft man. It’s important for patience to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to his rehabilitation. A lot of time and money are invested in Bogut. So if his body needs another month to heal up before he can start dribbling through cones and posting up chairs, so be it. Incompetence has run high in Milwaukee over the last eight years, but at this point it’s fairly safe to say the Bucks staff is competent. And that is something Andrew Bogut, and anyone else involved with the Bucks, can feel good about.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Draft Combine Video

A lot of point guard talk on this video of the Chicago Combine from

Back To School

Players of note who have returned to college for (at least) one more year:

Greivis Vasquez
Gani Lawal
Mac Koshwal
Luke Harangody
Devan Downey
Damian James
Tasmin Mitchell
Scottie Reynolds
Tyler Smith
Jarvis Varnado
Nic Wise

Of the players on this list, the Bucks brought in Vasquez, Koshwal and Harangody for workouts. None were contenders for the Bucks number ten pick, but could have been considered were they there for the Bucks second pick.

In other news the Bucks worked out six today. All could be candidates for the Bucks second round pick, 41 overall.

Jeff Adrien - Adrien is a slimmer and shorter version of DeJuan Blair. He doesn't have the nastiness or rebounding prowess either. He was a productive scorer in his time at UConn, but battled injuries frequently. He's probably fighting an uphill battle to make a roster. But hey, Sasha Kaun got drafted last year, so anything can happen.

Nando de Colo
- Hmm. A second workout for the French point guard. If he's French that means the Bucks may be able to stash him in Europe for a year or two and save some money. That may sound appealing for a team strapped for cash. Remember this name.

Kyle McAlarney - Big shooter. McAlarney would make even the most trigger happy pros blush when they watch his tapes from Notre Dame. That being said, he has great range and a great stroke. If Chris Quinn can make a roster then McAlarney should at least get some summer league looks. Maybe the Bucks will provide him that look.

Luke Zeller - Zeller was famously (in Marquette and the state of Indiana lore) picked over Dominic James as Indiana player of the year when they were seniors in high school. That may have been the high point of his basketball career though. Should have a good career in Europe.

Scott Vandermeer - Who? Well, he's 7'0. That's a plus.

Kleon Penn - Penn blocked a ton of shots at McNeese State. As I always say, there is usually a spot in the NBA for players who have one superior skill. We'll have to wait to find out whether or not his skill is superior.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Workout Reports

Below are reports on prospects that have actually worked out with the Bucks. I will continue to update this list as more guys come in. I've also commented on how I feel about each player.

First Round Prospects

DeJuan Blair - The knocks on Blair are known; he's got some knee issues to match his relatively stumpy stature. But he was a productive college player and is tough as nails.

Jrue Holiday - People have been throwing around Gary Payton comparisons from time to time when discussing Holiday. He didn't have a great season at UCLA, but if you're going to struggle anywhere that is the place to struggle. They have a great track record when it comes to producing pros. Especially when the pros aren't named O'Bannon.

Eric Maynor - Maynor is a classic player; a four-year senior who got better every year and did everything right. He has good size but is not a sexy pick. Sexy isn't always a good thing though. Darko Milicic was "sexy."

Second Round Possibilities

Tyrese Rice - On ten separate occasions the fire department was called to Boston College games in Rice's career, only to find out that Rice was only metaphorically on fire and not literally flaming.

Jeff Pendergraph - Get To Know: Jeff Pendergraph. Hint: He loves waffles.

Jeremy Pargo - Pargo is like a Jonny Flynn Lite. Plus he has an NBA pedigree. He has proven that he can dunk on guys my size too.

Lester Hudson - I don't know who Lester Hudson is, but from what I've read about him I wouldn't doubt he'll find a way into the league. He's a great story and as mentally tough as anyone in this or any other draft.

Jerel McNeal - McNeal will go down as a legend in Marquette lore and a pleasant reminder of Sidney Moncreif in my dad's mind. The Bucks actually said he wasn't a good fit for them recently, but methinks that might be posturing. Why posture with a second round pick? I don't know, but I'm hoping that's what it was.

Greivis Vasquez - Greivis has enough swagger and poor shot selection to run his own AAU team. I don't know if that turns into a good NBA player though.

Luke Harangody - Harangody had a bad habit of fading away on his shots and not on his dinners in college. I've heard pretty positive things about him in his workouts though. But have you ever heard anything that wasn't positive on these workouts?

Bamba Fall - Dave Babcock: "He went to SMU, and I saw him play his sophomore year and I was very disappointed. He really had no game at all." Now you have heard something that wasn't positive. Actually please click the link on his name and read his quotes about his workout. They are the only ones that made me laugh, but they did a great job in doing so.

Josh Shipp - Injuries decimated most of his college career. compares him to Ricky Pierce, which is pretty fun for older Bucks fans.

Josh Heytvelt - Heytvelt will most likely be remembered for a very strong 2006-07 season. Oh, and that whole mushroom thing. Should have a solid career in Europe.

Jack McClinton - McClinton was a sharpshooter at Miami. He recently told DraftExpress, "Down the road, if I really keep working hard at my game, I see myself as a Mo Williams or a player like that." Not sure how Milwaukee will feel about that Jack.

A.J. Abrams - Abrams was a lights out shooter at Texas. He's an awfully little guy, but could find a home in the league the way Eddie House did: annoying people and hitting threes.

Brandon Costner - He's a pretty decent actor. Maybe he could learn the art of the flop? He had a standout freshman year at North Carolina State, but then kind of fell off. He may have a future.

Joe Ingles - If the Bucks took Patty Mills in round one and Ingles in round two they might be able to finish in the top seven at the Olympics in 2012.

Marcus Landry - One thing working in Landry's favor is the great success of his brother, Carl, another over looked power forward who scraped and clawed his way into a steady rotation spot for a playoff team. One thing not working in Landry's favor is that he isn't as gifted a player as Carl.

Alonzo Gee - Alonzo Gee has a great name. That is all I got.

Alfred Aboya - Aboya is interested in politics and would one day like to be the president of Cameroon. He's also 6'9 245 and a non stop hustler. That sounds like a guy I'd like on my team.

Jeff Adrien - Adrien is a slimmer and shorter version of DeJuan Blair. He doesn't have the nastiness or rebounding prowess either. He was a productive scorer in his time at UConn, but battled injuries frequently. He's probably fighting an uphill battle to make a roster. But hey, Sasha Kaun got drafted last year, so anything can happen.

Nando de Colo
- Hmm. A second workout for the French point guard. If he's French that means the Bucks may be able to stash him in Europe for a year or two and save some money. That may sound appealing for a team strapped for cash. Remember this name.

Kyle McAlarney - Big shooter. McAlarney would make even the most trigger happy pros blush when they watch his tapes from Notre Dame. That being said, he has great range and a great stroke. If Chris Quinn can make a roster then McAlarney should at least get some summer league looks. Maybe the Bucks will provide him that look.

Luke Zeller - Zeller was famously (in Marquette and the state of Indiana lore) picked over Dominic James as Indiana player of the year when they were seniors in high school. That may have been the high point of his basketball career though. Should have a good career in Europe.

Scott Vandermeer - Who? Well, he's 7'0. That's a plus.

Kleon Penn - Penn blocked a ton of shots at McNeese State. As I always say, there is usually a spot in the NBA for players who have one superior skill. We'll have to wait to find out whether or not his skill is superior.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quick Draft Notes

Some quick notes on possible Bucks targets today.

You know how when someone could be a problem or there is word there is something wrong with a guy they call it a red flag? Well Brandon Jennings may have, in the eyes of some, just raised his very own red flag.
Jennings: Well, put it like this: If he was in a workout with me, Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Stephen Curry, he wouldn't even probably be at the top.

Reporter: You think he's all hype?

Jennings: Yeah.

Reporter: Because?

Jennings: Because he played in the Olympics, he been playing pro ball since he been 14, so you know, there it is right there. And you know, his stats? 26 minutes, and he be having like 16 points, 7 assists [inaudible -- sounds like he says 900] steals? Come on. Twenty-six minutes, and you have all that? So I really don't know. I really don't know. I can't wait to play him, though. I'm just letting y'all know that now. I can't wait.

It goes on for some time like that.

Chad Ford has all kinds of goodies in his recent draft buzz column. One of the most ridiculous things?
Ohio State center B.J. Mullens was slated to appear but pulled out of the workout on Friday. His agent gave word to the Nets that he had a promise in the Top 16 and was shutting down workouts. We'll see if the agent is telling the truth on draft night
How could anyone be interested in B.J. Mullens? Of course he has upside, there is nothing but upside. He's currently without much ability. When you're at the bottom you can only go up. Let's pray this supposed promise is not at pick ten.

Dime has some thoughts on Jordan Hill.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mock Draft Talk

Chad Ford has released another version of his famous mock draft. I wonder if he and Mel Kiper ever hang out and toast to the spectacle drafts have become. They do such a terrific job covering their respective drafts that no one can doubt they would have success in whatever journalistic endeavors they would have pursued, but it seems as if destiny has called upon them to do what they do.

Ford has the Bucks landing the same player he had them landing during the last mock draft: Arizona's PF Jordan Hill. If you've read my recent post about Hill, you'll know I'm not so excited about it. But I'm trying to be more open to the idea. I have a friend who keeps insisting to me that Hill is going to be a terrific pro. His numbers look great on paper. He grabbed a lot of rebounds and didn't seem to disappear in big games.

I'll just have to avoid the youtube video of his ATTACK workout.

For a terrific mock draft database go here. They update at least once a week and have virtually every mock draft you need to see. For those keeping track, Draft Express still has the Bucks taking Jonny Flynn at ten, though they haven't updated this week. Dime (6/1) has Jordan Hill falling to the Bucks also.
He’s making a significant drop down the board only due to the needs of teams above this spot. The Bucks need a true PF and another tough guy in the paint.
Also I'd like to note that Dime has not typed a word about the Bucks since June 1. Sad.

The Ideas Of The Uninformed

What I like most about the NBA Draft is that college basketball fans care about it. I’ve said being an NBA fan can be lonely, but this is the time of year that college fans and NBA fans can unite and talk about how the best players in college will fare in their new careers.

Most of my friends are casual NBA fans who love college basketball to death. We’ve all been following hoops for years upon years. We’ve devoured every piece of available information about Wisconsin and Marquette and kept our eyes on competitors from all over. Despite all that two things stand out to me about us as fans (and really about all fans out there in general)

A. We still don’t know very much.
B. We can’t agree on much (if anything at all).

So it came as no surprise to me when I threw out some Bucks related NBA draft questions that it spiraled out of control into a barrage of emails about college basketball. Fortunately at this time of year I’m able to relate it to the NBA. Today, I will use our emails to assist me in my breakdown of potential Bucks prospects.

The friends in question will henceforth be referred to as: Bucksketball (that is me obviously), The Obnoxious One, The Hothead and The Rational One.

This is a marathon post, so make sure you have some time or find a good spot to park at halfway through. Without further ado...

Who should the Bucks go with at number ten?

The Hothead: I think if they take Flynn the Bucks should send out a statement stating they want to be an average team for the next 10 years with him running point. I can’t see Johnny Flynn getting any team over the hump anytime soon. His ceiling is probably an average starting point guard to a really good backup.

The Obnoxious One: Who are you expecting to get here? They are picking 10th in a weak draft. You're not going to find a superstar there. Flynn would be a great pick at ten. He fills a need and will be a solid point guard. Think Jordan Farmar, Aaron Brooks, or Jameer Nelson level.

Bucksketball: Aaron Brooks is a little different player than the other two. I don't think he's (Johnny Flynn) anywhere near as polished now as Nelson was when he came out. I'm really starting to believe that Flynn will not be as good as Tyreke Evans or Jrue Holiday.

I think there is some Big East bias in effect here. (SIDE NOTE: The Big East dominates our usual topics of conversation. All four of us grew up in Milwaukee and at various points in our life followed Marquette religiously. I now follow them with less vigor. The Rational One and the Obnoxious One have gone on to graduate from Marquette. This leaves them, ahem, slightly biased when it comes to the Big East.)

Obnoxious: Of course he's (Flynn) not as good as Evans. That's why he'll be gone before the Bucks pick. I think Holiday is way overrated. He was the number three or four top scorer on a team that was not that good.

The Rational One: How many players over the years have been drafted on potential...and haven’t amounted to anything? The fact is, we have seen that Flynn, Evans and Eric Maynor can all play. Not so much with a guy like Holiday. He’s still very young and has a lot of growing/ maturing to do.

The draft is an in-exact science, but I will take a guy that has shown he can play, and lead his team, over a guy with "potential" any day of the week.

Bucksketball: The ultimate rule of any draft has long been take the best player available. So if Evans is available at ten, is he the pick?

He has the upside of a Jrue Holiday with actual college production backing it up. He's got great size for a combo guard and played successfully out of position for an entire year. Redd has two more years with the team, but could probably be traded during his last season. At that point Evans should be more than ready to fill in.

The list appears to be, in no certain order, Evans, Flynn, Blair, and Holiday. (SIDE NOTE: These emails took place before the recent "Jordan Hill is dropping" discussion.)

Obnoxious: I do like guys coming out of Calipari's system. Rose was ready to play right away after one year in college. I still really like Flynn and I think this is a year where the Bucks need to go with need. Again if they can resign Sessions then I don't think they need a PG.

I haven't really looked into it. Shouldn't they be able to keep at least one of Charlie V or Sessions? Is Luke Ridnour definitely gone?

Rational: If the NBA's off-season was like every other league's, this would be easier for the bucks to handle. In every other league, free agency comes before the draft. In the NBA, it comes after.

If it was before the draft, they could make a decision on CV/Sessions, and then draft accordingly. Instead, they have to draft, not knowing what will happen in free agency.

Bucksketball: The Bucks know what will happen with those two. It’s just a matter of whether or not they can make a deal to free up space to resign Sessions. Villanueva appears to be as good as gone. I think they would rather move in a different direction anyway. For all his offensive talents he’s probably never going to be the player the Bucks want defensively at that position. Power forward is a hugely important defensive position.

Hothead: On DraftExpress they did some research on Flynn and said he only finished like 48% of the time he went to the cup… they felt that might be a problem when he gets to the league since that was only against college front lines. I would take a gamble on Jennings if he was still there no doubt.

Rational: I wouldn’t be surprised if Jennings goes back to Europe if the Bucks draft him. Under Armour wants to position Jennings where he is going to get the most exposure for himself and the Under Armour brand.

Milwaukee isn’t the only place they don’t want him to go, but it's near the top of the list. Ideally, they want him in DC, New York, or New Jersey

Bucksketball: Jrue Holiday has worlds of upside - more than Flynn I'd say. Holiday played out of position in an offense that did not play to his strengths at UCLA. From what I've read he's very ready to come in and play right away, regardless of what happened at UCLA. He's also expected to develop into the type of guard that can guard both point guards and shooting guards with much effectiveness. Considering how important point guards have been in team’s offenses the past few years, how can anyone resist a potential lock down defender at that position?

Flynn does not have that defensive ceiling. His athleticism will keep him competitive with other point guards, but he'll always be battling to guard bigger points. He's so quick though that he should be able to hound guys coming up the court should his future team ever wish to deploy him in that type of manner.

What I like about Flynn is that he is ballsy as hell. It's an immeasurable trait, but one of the most important characteristics that a point guard can have. I feel like Flynn could step in from day one and be willing to take a last second shot with the game on the line. The problem is that he is kind of a jacker.

Hothead: What about Patty Mills? Too high to pick him?

Rational: Yawn. How often do mid-major players come in and have an impact in the NBA? (SIDE NOTE: As it turns out, not very often.)

Hothead: I think Holiday would be a better pick than Flynn though. Flynn makes a lot of careless plays, I think Holiday is more NBA ready to play right now.

Rational: That is quite a bold statement...what have you seen to make you think he is NBA ready?

Hothead: I just don’t think Johnny Flynn is ready. He takes a lot of bad shots. If those are the people we are discussing than my choice is Holiday.

Bucksketball: Well, what about Dejuan Blair? Sometimes I think he's going to be a beast. I'd rather have Blair than James Johnson. Blair is so complementary though. If we're keeping RJ then I want Blair. He'll just have to work and help Redd, Bogut and RJ. It'd be a perfect role for him.

Hothead: I like his toughness, it would work for the Bucks. He needs to improve his jumpshot though. If we draft him are we hoping he becomes Carlos Boozer?

Rational: I like Blair...he’s a beast, and will continue to be a beast. Brings a lot of toughness. (SIDE NOTE: Big East Bias alert. Also note how often we like to use the term beast to describe Blair. That has to be a good sign, right?)

Obnoxious: I think Blair would be a great pick for the Bucks if they can keep Sessions. If not, I think they have to go point guard (or maybe go with McSteal (SIDE NOTE: McSteal is the affection name given to former Marquette swing man Jerel McNeal.) in the second round? Think about it, a good defensive minded player for a defensive minded coach). Blair would be a great fit for the Bucks. He can fit the mold of a Kedrick Perkins or Big Baby or Ben Wallace. A lot of championship caliber teams seem to have that tough, hard working body banging at the four and it compliments the stars really well. That's exactly what Blair can fill. They don't need him to become as much a scorer as Boozer is.

Hothead: You just named guys that were 27th pick, 35th pick and undrafted. We should use a top ten pick and not except any offense from him?

Bucksketball: I hesitate to say this, but I think teams are more savvy to this type of player now. They know what to expect and they know how important he is. I don't think he has much offense aside from tip ins and dump plays. He could still average 10 a game just based off those types of plays alone though. I would never run one play for him, but the other things he’ll bring to the game make up for his likely scoring deficiencies. The NBA is figuring out that it’s not just about PPG and RPG. There is a lot that doesn’t show up in the box score that is crucial to wins and losses.

Obnoxious: I didn't say no offense. We don't need the offense Boozer provides and I don't think Blair can or ever will provide that. If you don't think that type of player warrants a number ten pick then the Bucks should not draft him. I think Blair is overvalued at ten, but I do think he would be a great fit for the Bucks and provides a major role they are missing.

Hothead: I think we will be able to get that type of player later on in the draft. Point guard will be a pressing need even if they keep Sessions. The Milwaukee Bucks will not win a championship with Ramon Sessions as the starting point guard

Obnoxious: I'll take Sessions for one year right now over Derek Fisher. The Lakers have a very good shot at a championship I don't think you can say that. (SIDE NOTE: This is where it’s clear this guy isn’t an ardent NBA fan. Fisher is at least an adequate three point shooter, a perfect guy to be playing with Kobe. Sessions appears to be not allowed to even consider a three point shot.)

Hothead: I don’t even know what that is suppose to mean. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant.

Bucksketball: I think its awfully early to rule out Sessions. I did it awhile back and regret that. The heat won it with a decrepit Gary Payton and molding chocolate version of Jason Williams running the show. They just need someone better next to him.

Hothead: When the Bucks get Kobe and Gasol or Shaq and Wade on the team come talk to me.

(I told you it was a marathon.)

And that is really what it’s all about. Superstars win titles. We all know that as we pile through scores of information, trying to outsmart each other and figure out who will be the breakout star of this draft. Will the Bucks get a superstar at ten this year? It’s unlikely. But we can hope right?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Making A Mountain Out Of A Jordan Hill

Playing on the west coast offers some serious advantages to guys who aren’t great basketball players. Advantage the first? The weather. I live in Wisconsin, have all my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about moving West. I’ve had friends do it and they say it’s like living on a different planet; one that isn’t always either freezing or blazing. They have a temperature in the 70's from what I hear. As I write this, it's 58 degrees outside here in Wisconsin...on June 8. As nice as the weather can be in the West it’s not the biggest advantage to those who aren’t really all that good. No, that would be the anonymity of playing basketball while everyone else is asleep.

If you’re playing basketball and no one but other west coast people are watching you’ve just eliminated two thirds of the country. And we can remove half of the west coast too, you know, since it’s 75 and sunny all year there and everyone can just go to the beach. So pretty much the only people watching basketball players from places like Arizona are probably relatives, alumni and students of Arizona. Especially since Arizona has been sans Lute Olson and really any national interest for the past few years. And since no one is watching Arizona basketball anymore, everyone has to rely on words like “athletic,” “developing frame” and “length” to describe Jordan Hill. Scouts have all the tape they need I’m sure, but might get blinded by a few nice work outs and a 35-inch vertical leap.

Maybe I’d feel better if his games had been on television more last year. Or if he had played well on any of the occasions I was able to watch him. Or if he didn’t look like Mikki Moore’s younger brother. Actually I’d be perfectly fine with the Mikki Moore resemblance if Mikki Moore was a good basketball player. But he isn’t and it makes me worry.

I’ve worried enough about it that I decided to head over to Youtube and check out a video of Hill working at the famous ATTACK Athletics facility in Chicago. Surely this would be a terrific demonstration of his great athletic ability and make me feel good about the possibility of him slipping to the Bucks at ten or the Bucks making a move up to grab him. I did not feel better. What I saw was a moderately skilled big man who looks about as talented as anyone else. He isn’t sensational at anything and is a bit slight of mass to be planting himself down at the four every night.

Is it possible that enough scouts and websites saying he’s athletic and mobile have distorted the truth this bad? I don’t get it. Any time that I’ve seen Hill play I’ve never come away thinking, “wow that is a fluid basketball player.” It’s all disjointed movements and awkward looking post play. Aren't athleticism and smoothness something that should come through on a basketball court?

If he were Chris Bosh, I’d feel good about him. He does not appear to be Chris Bosh though. From what I’ve seen of Moore...ahh sorry...Hill, he looks more like Kwame Brown.

I don’t mean to be absurd or too dramatic when I say Kwame Brown. Brown has been an okay role player over the years. His hands aren’t dependable, actually his whole offensive game is unreliable, but he’s a big body and has filled out over the years. He can hold his ground, foul a guy and grab some rebounds as a backup big man. If he weren’t drafted at all, we’d be hailing him as a terrific journeyman center. Unfortunately for Kwame, he was the number one pick. MJ’s number one pick. So yeah, he’s been disappointing.

I don’t mean to imply that I think Hill has that similar a game to Brown or will end up being a back up center. I just don’t think this is the kind of guy who justifies a high selection and the scrutiny that comes with it. He’s had nobody watching him the last few years as he’s slowly developed into a serviceable college big man. I think he’ll be much better off in a place where he’ll be asked to come off the bench and be an energy guy. Someone who can run around and score on put backs and dunks around the rim. Milwaukee will be asking him to be a building block at the four spot from the get go.

I guess if he ends up in Milwaukee one thing will certainly be the same for him.

No one will be watching.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weight A Minute

For the most part there are two ways scouts seem to scout players. First, there is their body of work. Whether they played college ball, high school ball, AAU ball or foreign ball, every player applying for entry into the NBA draft has a large body of preparatory work to look at. Aside from that organizations spend hours and hours pouring over data regarding players heights, length measurements, leaping abilities and bench press numbers among other things. I'm not attempting the undermine the exhausting efforts and number of hours scouts put in. And I'm aware they do more than just watch games and go to combines. I'm just trying to keep things simple.

Speaking of least favorite thing about combine work is measurements of players without shoes on. How many games a year do guys play without shoes? If someone is 6'7 without shoes on and 6'8 with them on, can’t we just say the guy is 6'8? That is by far my least favorite thing about the month before the draft. But I’m not here to rant about that. I’m here for a far different reason today.

I'm here to talk about Dejuan Blair, one of the drafts great mysteries.

There is no shortage of ways to look at Dejuan Blair. One could start by simply looking at the man. Standing 6'6 and a half inch (and yes that is with shoes on) he doesn’t have the prototypical size for an NBA power forward. In large part he makes up for that with his massive seven foot plus reach and thick garbage can base. Looking at him conjures up images of a tree trunk. It’s not difficult to envision him steam rolling larger men on a box out with his super low center of gravity and incredible hunger for rebounds. Rebounds are usually what define men built like Blair and judging from his production, he is no different.

Blair had eight games last season with over 17 rebounds and cracked ten offensive rebounds four times. On the year he averaged over twelve rebounds a game in arguably the most talented college basketball conference in the country. In what was likely the most memorable sight most of us have of him Blair ragdolled the 7'2 Hasheem Thabeet on a particularly brutal example of a man just being strong with the ball. Blair plays with ferocity and toughness not always seen of a man his size. Uh-oh. Those words worry me.

A man his size. I never like to say "a man his size" in the context I'm right now saying it in. That sentence poses a problem that is far greater than his vertical challenge.

His horizontal challenge.

I’m all for eating right and being healthy, but when I hear that a man has lost 40 pounds in three weeks, I’m finding that a little curious. From what I understand, it is possible to safely lose that amount of weight over a multiple week period. Michael Dansinger from NBC’s The Biggest Loser says, “In theory, one could drop as much as 20 pounds in a week following a very ambitious eating and exercise plan, devoting more than seven hours per week to rigorous exercise, and under a physician's care like we do on the television program.” But on the television program they are dealing with, to be brutally honest, fat slobs who if not for the show would have relatively zero exercise.

They are not dealing with athletes who’ve been ardently working out for the better part of their life. So maybe Blair has cut out fried foods and sweets for the last month or so leading up to the draft. Maybe now he resembles a guy who is cut up and serious about keeping pounds off. What happens in January when the Bucks are ten games under .500, it’s negative five degrees out after a game and he’s looking for some food before he heads home after going out. Is he going to wait and eat the goodies he picked up from Whole Foods earlier in the day or stop at Pizza Shuttle to get his grub on? If Blair went through all of college at or near three hundred pounds while working out and playing basketball doesn’t it seem likely that his natural body weight is probably closer to that than it is to his current svelte 277?

I’m not saying Blair is doomed to eat his way out of the NBA. I love a lot about his game and think he could really be a great addition to a team. But I would wait before hoping he joins Big Baby Davis or Paul Millsap in the brotherhood of undersized power forwards. I’ve seen this Dejuan Blair movie before. And I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not talking about Tractor. I’m not going to rehash that old wound. I’m more recently reminded of Mike Sweetney.

Sweetney was a guy I was dying for the Bucks to take in the legendary 2003 draft had T.J. Ford not have been available. Sweetney seemed like the long-awaited answer to the Bucks power forward problems. With strong post-moves, rebounding ability and shot-blocking prowess, Sweetney seemed like a lock for a future NBA star despite his height deficiencies. But Sweetney would soon eat his way into his coaches dog houses. And one of those coaches? Scott Skiles. Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune wrote about him in 2006.
Sweetney just never gets in shape quite enough and Skiles makes it clear if you don't perform, you don't play. Sweetney kept running out of gas a few minutes into every game, so Skiles sat him down until at least Sweetney could give a better effort, which he has."
So can Dejuan Blair be the guy the Bucks need next to Andrew Bogut? Is he a “Scott Skiles kind of guy?” I don't have the answers to these questions. No one does. I just hope the Bucks feel very confident in Blair's ability to control his weight if they decide to go with him. After all, we have enough fat people in Milwaukee.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mid-Major to Main Man?

Mardy Collins
Sebastian Telfair
Jameer Nelson
Delonte West
Marcus Banks
Dan Dickau
Jerryl Sasser
Speedy Claxton
Andre Miller

This year Eric Maynor and Patty Mills are the en vogue mid-major points. Mills has the advantage of his brilliant run in the Olympic Games last year, while Maynor has thrown together several nice tournament performances to help his case. Maynor on the surface has appeared to be more of a fit in the traditional point guard role, while Mills quickness allows him to score easier. But for a team in need of a point guard like the Bucks (possibly), are either of them worth the risk?

The above list is first round mid-major point guard picks since 1999 (Excluding 2007 and 2008 drafts, it's just too early to tell). I included Telfair because he was facing mid-major competition in high school. Ten guys with varying results. Without question Andre Miller has had the most successful career of the aforementioned players with Jameer Nelson inching closer each year. There doesn’t seem to be a specific blueprint on what translates ones mid-major college success into prolonged NBA success. Miller has been one of the worst shooting point guards in the league since his entry, but has made up for that by looking exactly like Richard Pryor in addition to having great size and terrific vision.

College teammates Nelson and Delonte West have thrived playing with incredible talents. West has taken well to spotting up outside the arc waiting for Lebron to dish to him and defending with great zeal at the other end. Nelson has taken a few years to develop but his defense has been catching up to his natural shooting ability. He was voted an all-star for the first time this year largely thanks to the open shots he gets by playing with Dwight Howard. While neither is a pure point guard they both fell into the right situations. West can play like a two for large portions of the game because Lebron handles the ball so much. Nelson is enough of a point guard to lob the ball up for Howard or keep it moving around the perimeter for Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, but if they really need a playmaker they can give it to Turkoglu and let Nelson move off the ball.

I would say the one thing that the more successful guys on this list had in common was above average athleticism or shooting ability. It sounds stupid to say, but a lot of times the key to sticking in the league and being successful is being really good at something. Yes, everyone in the NBA is really good at something, but if a player has a specific skill that they do better than most guys they have a great shot at sticking around. Miller has an incredible basketball IQ, Nelson is a very good shooter and from all accounts a great leader too. He gets the guys together every off-season in Philly to work-out and grow as players together. Speedy Claxton made a living off being speedy. Then he blew out his knee and none of his other skills were good enough.

Mardy Collins was a professional goon. That would explain his presence on the Clippers. Jerryl Sasser and Marcus Banks? They weren’t really good at anything. Actually disregard that. Banks had a nice half season with Minnesota and played that into a big contract to back-up Steve Nash, even though he wasn’t very good. So he was good at something: hiring the right agent. Sasser was just one of those mythical tall point guards that were all the rage for some time. He probably now hangs out with Reece Gaines and Julius Hodge wondering what went wrong.

So the question becomes then, are Maynor and Mills good at anything?

Maynor has shown incredible ball hawk and clutch shot prowess in his short stints on national television. His classic performance in the CAA tournament a few years ago was one that will not soon be forgotten by fans and GM’s alike. He did it again in the NCAA’s that year against Duke and nearly thrilled once more in this past year’s tournament against UCLA. So much for shriveling under pressure.

Meanwhile, Mills spent his summer last year blowing by Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd whenever he felt like it in the Olympics. Actually it was just in the exhibition game. The actual game that counted he was contained much better. Still impressive!

So both guys have some serious skill. I don’t think we’ll have any Jerryl Sasser or Sebastian Telfair problems here. Scouts and pundits alike seem to like Maynor more be it his polish, size or whatever the reason may be. He’s in contention at ten for the Bucks. Mills looks like he’ll find a place later in the first round, though he could move up if he shows something he wasn’t able to show at the end of the year after suffering an injury.

Regardless I’d look for both these guys to be productive for years to come. In a draft like this that might be something worth looking at with pick number ten.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Will Flynn Be In?

There have been few Bucks draft picks I’ve been more excited about than Terrance Jerod Ford. The first time I saw him was during the 2001 McDonald’s All-American game. Ford was hitting step back threes, dropping dimes and running the show like a young John Stockton. The mechanics on his shot looked shaky, but he looked like he knew what he was doing. Over the next two years I watched him blossom at Texas. He would go on to win the Naismith Award as a sophomore and amaze me to no end with a tip dunk that I unfortunately cannot find on youtube. I’m legitimately surprised by that. This is probably the first time I’ve ever looked something up on youtube and been unsuccessful. Amazing.

Ford seemed to have had the athleticism and leadership skills necessary to be a great point guard for years to come and the Milwaukee Bucks answer there for at least the next ten years. Unfortunately he has a pencil for a spine and is lucky to even be playing anymore. Every time I hear an NBA player have his toughness called into question I always think back to Ford and hope no one ever dare to question his. But there are no guards that particularly remind me of the young, wide-eyed franchise point guard Ford I envisioned on draft day.

There is one that reminds me of the new T.J. Ford however.

Who is the new T.J. Ford? He’s that guy on the Pacers that thinks he’s a scorer. The one who is still quick, but still can’t shoot a lick. The one who has seen his assist numbers tumble like rocks down a mountain, while his turnovers have begun to pile like those same rocks on the ground. I don’t see a lot of Indiana Pacer games living in Wisconsin, but the ones I did see I usually saw T.J. shooting a whole lot more than he should have been. He lit the Bucks up a few times this year and they actually did win the games when he scored the most, but in the long run, how effective can a team be with a fragile 5'11 point guard taking 20 shots and handing it over more than he hands it out?

Whom does this new T.J. Ford remind me of? Former Syracuse jacker Jonny Flynn.

Flynn has serious leadership qualities and jaw dropping athleticism. In addition to that he has a strong looking body and no known spinal conditions. All of these characteristics are pluses. A problem with Jonny Flynn has been his propensity to shoot all the time. And a propensity to take shots that are Jacksonian (I just thought of Jacksonian. I frequently call guys who take bad shots or too many shots, jackers. One of the all-time biggest jackers is Stephen Jackson. He has patented the “rhythm shot” pull-up three point fastbreak jumper. Jackson is a jacker. Therefore I’ll be referring to out of control jacker shots as Jacksonian. I love it). It may have been he just got caught up in the madness of the Syracuse playground system and had too much freedom for a college kid and that is what caused his poor shot selection. I could see that. If I was playing with Eric Devendorf, Andy Rautins and Paul Harris I’d be getting mine up too.

But if he was a truly great point prospect wouldn’t we have seen him reign his team in more? There was not a good reason Syracuse failed to win the Big East regular season crown and a one seed in the tournament. They had a great run in the conference tournament and did well in the NCAA’s, but they made it way too difficult on themselves. Isn’t that the job of the point guard to make sure they buckle down during the year? Look at what Chauncey Billups did for the Nuggets this year. He gave them discipline and order that a coach couldn’t. They finally found a point guard and all of their great athletes fell into line. They got on a roll during the season and now here they are tied with the might mighty Lakers. So, yeah it bothers me a little that we didn’t see Flynn get them going.

I say all that and I think all that and then I keep coming back to the way he played against Marquette near the end of the regular season. I mean I had nightmares for a month. Marquette didn’t have Dom James, but they did have Jerel McNeal, who was supposedly as good a defensive player as there was in the Big East. It didn’t even matter to Flynn though. He was hitting him with stutter steps, crossovers and everything else he had in his repertoire; it was like a prize fight between Mike Tyson and Mike Myers. McNeal was just not ready for him.

And it’s that memory that keeps me thinking he’ll be okay. Maybe he doesn’t have the preternatural vision, but maybe in today’s NBA that’ll be okay. What he can do is get by everyone and get to the rim and that is what the NBA is all about these days. Maybe I’m comparing him to Ford to keep my hopes down if the Bucks do draft him. Maybe I just don’t want to get to thinking we’ve found the answer again, only to see that answer putting up twenty shots a game while his teammates stand around in confusion. We will see if he is the pick this June. And if he is? Let’s just keep Eric Devendorf far away.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The International Dilemma...Sort Of

Figuring out which players in the draft will develop into rotation guys or stars is difficult. It gets even more difficult when players and their agents (mainly the agents) decide they are going to tell teams where they don't want to play. This problem is one that hits home in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee is not a big market. This is news to no one. It's the 33 (or so) largest market in the country, but that puts them into the bottom third of the NBA spectrum. So it is understandable why agents have reservations about sending their clients here. And from the players perspective, I could see why one would do whatever he could to avoid coming to Milwaukee. It is going to be freezing cold for virtually the entire season and pile about 100 inches of snow on that fact. The women of Milwaukee have been growing up eating brats and drinking beer since they turned 18 which has turned the large majority of them At least man sized. And the locals don't especially care for a bad NBA team. So not a lot of pluses.

That would explain the Yi Jianlian fiasco in 2006. The Bucks pretty much had to take Yi. They had to prove they would not be manipulated by agents or anyone else trying to pressure them into something. The market aspect combined with the lack of a large Chinese population was obviously a big deal then. Did it factor into Yi being traded? Probably. But it was a lot easier to trade Yi once the organization realized that he wasn't very good and was probably 25 years old without a lot of upside. (I'd like to make clear though that the Bucks were much better off making that trade than not. Without that deal the Bucks would have won 22 games last year and the culture in the locker room would still be terrible. There would once again be no hope for next season either. Charlie Villanueva would never have gotten better and it would likely have trickled down throughout the team. So yeah, it was a good basketball decision.) Would they have kept Yi if he were a good player? Tough to say. The Bucks could be faced with a similar situation this year.

In my second look at how past drafts could impact this year's draft for the Bucks I can't help but compare the Yi Jianlian fiasco to Brandon Jennings.

Most mock drafts I've looked at have Brandon Jennings falling anywhere from fourth to the Kings to seventh to Golden State. He'll likely be gone by the time the Bucks pick. But what if Jennings fell a little in workouts? What if character issues or injury concerns push him back and he's available at number ten? Would the Bucks take him? The folks at RealGM have Jennings dropping to the Bucks at ten, so who really knows what is going to happen.

But how would Team Jennings feel about dropping to Milwaukee? When I say Team Jennings I'm speaking primarily about Jennings agent and the folks at Under Armour. To say they have a lot invested in the career of Jennings would be an understatement. They have built their entire basketball related future on his career. The last thing Under Armour wants to have happen is for him to end up in Milwaukee. Sacramento? Probably not. Minnesota? Pass. They are looking for Golden State, D.C., or New York as the best case scenarios for teams in the top ten. New York would obviously be great from not only a media standpoint, but then he'd get to work with Mike D'Antoni, a European type coach who can transform point guards into point gods. The thing about Jennings is that he probably could just go back to Europe for another year or two, or at least hold it out there as a threat.

The problem for the small market teams is that Jennings might be really good. I mean REALLY good. The only time I've seen him play was at the McDonald's All-American game a couple years back and he looked like the next big thing at point guard. I realize that I was watching a glorified pick up game, but what struck me is that all he was concerned about was setting the assist record. Any time a point guard wants to be known as a passer it means one of two things, either he is a jacker trying to fool scouts and fans alike, or he really loves the feeling of setting other guys up. I'm leaning towards the latter, only because of how natural he looked in setting up his teammates.

As for the whole Italy thing, I'm into that too. To be a point guard you need to be ballsy. Moving to Europe when you can't get into college...that is ballsy. His European stats don't mean all that much to me. Talk about a period of adjustment, wow. He had so much going on that performing in games was probably pretty difficult. But he probably learned more in practicing every day over there like a professional than he ever could have wasting away with that clown of a coach they had at Arizona this year. He couldn't even get his guys to foul at the right time.

So while I'd love to have Brandon Jennings further develop himself as a star point guard and pitchman in Milwaukee, I'm realistic. The folks at Under Armour will probably not allow it. Hopefully for Jennings sake they steer him towards somewhere warm at least.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ghosts of Drafts Past

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”George Santayana

The Milwaukee Bucks would do well to listen to the wise words of Spanish-American author/philosopher George Santayana when preparing for next months draft. Lottery swings and misses have become part of the Bucks lore since their first foray into the lottery back in 1992. But they can learn from mishaps.

Players and their styles trickle on down through time as younger kids grow up watching older guys. That’s why everyone says Lebron plays like Magic. Or Kobe has a little MJ in his game. Or Trevor Ariza has Scottie Pippen’s arms. Or Big Baby Davis has Oliver Miller’s stomach. It just happens like that. So in this draft class I’ve picked up on a few things that I remember seeing a little bit in Bucks of years gone by.

Today is part one. And we’ll start with one that scares me on a more personal level. I invested a lot of time talking about today’s past Buck and I don’t want to revisit that part of my Buck life any time soon.

Earl Clark reminds me of Marcus Haislip.

Every year Marcus Haislip and I would do the same dance. He would do outrageous dunks before games which would always tantalize me. I would be talking about him after the game like he actually got in, though he never did. This would go on for the season and then things would really heat up when summer league started. Haislip would go bonkers in every summer league game, once hitting seven threes to go along with his usual nasty dunks. I would go on and on about how much talent he had and then he would continue to rot on the bench.
I never got it. At the time I didn’t realize that guys like Haislip can’t just rely on their athleticism to get them by. I didn’t know they had to focus on defense and show effort to grab rebounds. This was always Haislip’s biggest problem. I’ll repeat myself: EFFORT was his biggest problem. Effort.

How hard is it to give effort? I don’t always work hard at my job, but when I’m given responsibility I see to it that it gets done. That is the kind of player that Milwaukee needs. Not another lackadaisical effort guy. We shipped out Tim Thomas years ago. We should have consulted Thomas way before picking Haislip anyway. “Hey Tim, does he remind you of you? He does? Okay, thanks.”

Now let me look through the dozens of scouting reports available about Earl Clark. I’ll start with his weaknesses as listed at, “doesn’t always play hard, high bust potential?, consistency, off-ball defense and mental toughness.” Yikes. Moving on to, “he’s inconsistent. Needs to become more consistent.” Looks like they are concerned about his consistency. Chad Ford at has further concerns, stating simply that Clark “doesn’t have a great feel for the game,” and is “soft.” I don’t have the information from 2001, but I’d bet the fellow workout wonder Haislip had a lot of the same knocks on him coming out of college.

The best thing about Clark is that he was more productive in college than Haislip and may have the ability to move to the three. I also could be seduced by his productive tournament runs. Tournament runs are generally a good sign of things to come if my mind recalls correctly. I haven't actually looked that up though. Regardless, it’s still a risk not worth taking. There should be better players available. And if Clark emerges in a few years as Marcus Haislip, but with a good head on his shoulders, then some team will have gotten very VERY lucky.

Haislip seems to be holding his own in Europe though. This was from a couple years ago I believe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Haiku Review Four

Francisco Elson
When much is given
much is expected. From Fran
we just asked too much.

When your team is asking Francisco Elson to log heavy minutes at the starting center position you know you've been hit by injuries. Fran did an admirable job and had one of the better "music clips" when he scored at the BC (Will Ferrell's Elf (Double parenthesis, thanks Bau) quote of "Francisco that's fun to say") but he's just another guy. The Bucks could have very well found someone younger and more exciting to be a crappy backup, and maybe that guy would have had some upside.

Keith Bogans
Dribbling adventures
were supposed to be offset
by shooting and d.

I had not seen a lot of Bogans before he came to Milwaukee. I knew he shot an okay three point percentage and had a reputation as an average to above average defender, but that's all. What I wasn't aware of was just how poor of a ball handler Bogans was. Yikes. This guy had more adventures dribbling the basketball than Bill and Ted did with their phone booth (Zing). He did do an okay job on defense, but his three point shooting was not what I expected. I honestly thought he would help propel the Bucks into the playoffs. Oh well. I'm sure we'll never hear from him again, but Keith, it was fun while it lasted kind sir.

Luke Ridnour
A surprising shot
blocker and game icer,
his days may be numbered.

He's not an intimidating anyone by any means and the numbers weren't actually very good, but I won't be quick to forget that Ridnour found a way to block three shots in one game this year. When friends of mine who don't like the NBA would watch the Bucks and see him they'd be confused as to why "that little white kid" was on the court, so for him to send three shots back from whist they came is pretty awesome. Ridnour also was absolute money at the end of games from the line. Too bad the Bucks rarely needed someone shooting free throws at the end of games. Conventional wisdom would suggest that Luke is one guy the Bucks are going to be peddling hard this summer, so we may be bidding him adieu right along with Bogans. Thanks for the drama of the fight for the last spot fellas.

Monday, May 4, 2009

NBA Players Don't Wait In Line

I have multiple favorite moments from this short clip. In no particular order they are as follows

  • "I ain't wait in no line in ten years bro."
  • "Evidently the man don't have cable."
  • "Oh, Milwaukee. Ya'll known for beers that's right."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Haiku Review The Third

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
More lawyer than Prince,
his tough defense never rests.
Offenders fear Luc.

There might have been no better situation for Mbah a Moute to step into in year one of his NBA career than the 2008-09 Milwaukee Bucks. After years of laziness on the defensive end, the Bucks went out and found a new general manager and coach that were commited to guys who would sell out on defense, even if they weren't proficient offensive players. Mbah a Moute fit his role perfectly and used his great athleticism and will to give offensive players of all shapes and sizes problems. Naturally a small forward, the rookie often found himself starting at the four guarding the likes of Chris Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki. He never took a night off and showed flashes of offensive ability that would compliment his defense nicely. If he can spend this off-season working on extending his range to become a three point marksman he could make a big splash next year.

Dan Gadzuric
Control and pace are
words meant for other men. Gadz
knows not of either.

Gadz had another not so great year, but this was one dotted with bright spots. The behind the back move against the Nets will not soon be forgotten. If Andrew Bogut would have stayed healthy all year it would have done wonders for Gadzuric. When he's able to play 15-20 minutes a game with all out energy and enthusiasm he can still be quite effective. When he's forced to play more than 25 minutes he runs into foul problems and shoots too many jump shots. By too many jump shots I mean any at all.

Ramon Sessions
Pinballs rely on
triggers to keep them going;
he uses free throws.

The only thing I don't like about Ramon Sessions game is his heavy reliance on free throws. As he continues to develop a jump shot it should open the lane up more for him resulting in more made baskets in the paint, but last season if he wasn't getting calls that led to him shooting two he ran into some problems. As he gets stronger with time he'll likely become a better finisher too, so this is not something that bothers me too much. His vision looked great last year and he's the most important part of the Bucks summer. What ends up happening with him will likely dictate how the rest of the summer goes. Pretty cool for a guy who was a second round pick.

Haiku Review Part Deux

Charlie Villanueva
Charlie V.; sleek, smooth
moves about like leaves in wind.
Resting, yet he floats.

Charlie V. took steps to remove the tags chucker and inconsistent from his name and succeeded - to a degree. He's still shooting an awful lot of threes for someone his size. From January on he was a pretty consistent shooter and player. When he got consistent minutes he looked like a 20 point per night guy and was usually grabbing around ten rebounds. Ultimately, he still had lapses on defense and doesn't seem like the prototypical inside tough guy. Whether he can add that dimension to his game, like Dirk had to, is yet to be known. He definitely took steps this year though.

Charlie Bell
Bell drags along slow.
Father time has come calling.
Braces constrict knees.

Poor Charlie Bell. All he wanted to do a few years ago was go to Miami and play backup backup point and spend a little time along Dwyane Wade. Now he's stuck in what may be the coldest NBA town in all the land with two bad wheels and a crappy team. If he's in the league in three years I'd be shocked. Bell's biggest asset is his great character and leadership abilities (he was the Bucks player rep last year). I could see him coaching some day.

Michael Redd
The lefty will heal soon.
With time our hearts will too.
And we will love him.

It's very in style these days to not appreciate what Michael Redd has done as a Milwaukee Buck. I'm as guilty as anyone of taking him for granted these last few years. Redd can be a great player, and had his contract been about ten million dollars less he may be one of the more popular Bucks of all time. But it is what it is, and he'll likely have a hard time reclaiming the minds of Bucks fans for the duration of his stay here. But in ten years we will remember the better times and the sweet stroke and he'll be welcomed back with open arms and a jersey in the rafters.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Haiku Review

And now for my review of the Haiku form.

I'll throw a few of these up a day until I've covered the whole team. Just to keep you coming back and to keep myself going while I cry myself to sleep during the marathon known as the NBA playoffs.

Joe Alexander
Joe Alexander
A gazelle runs from lions;
he runs from Lebron.

In short, Alexander looked terrified often this year, but he's athletic as anything on Earth, I really think the kid has a bright future.

Damon Jones
Damon Jones on bench.
Excitement, like lightening,
can not be bottled.

We all know I'm in love with Jones' bench demeanor. I'm just sad it's not something you can buy at the store and give to next years scrubs. I hope he took Salim under his wing and the Bucks can bring him back as next years shooter de jour who gets excited.

Andrew Bogut
Meant to shine this year,
Bogut's star was put on hold,
but next year'll be bright.

Bogut was off to a great start this year when he was healthy. He was a walking double double, the problem was that he wasn't walking very often. Next year will be terrific, I can feel it for the Aussie.

The Off Season Part Three

(My apologies for the lack of updates recently. I was battling some internet problems and some NBA playoff addiction. Here is the long awaited third part of my off-season preview.)

What We Hope For

What we hope for is really a funny question. Watching the playoffs each and every year has reminded me what I’ve been hoping for ever since 2001. I can’t honestly say that I’m hoping the Bucks can ever have a series like the Bulls and Celtics are having right now, because it’s just too special. And I can’t say that I’m hoping the Bucks get blown out and embarrassed by 58 points like the Hornets. I guess what I’m looking for lies somewhere in the middle.

I’d like for the Bucks to get in the playoffs and make noise next year, but to have an eye towards the future too. I don’t want to sell off the future while looking only toward the present like the Suns have been doing these last few years.

So what will accomplish those goals?

Get Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd Healthy

If these two are healthy the Bucks are a playoff team. Bogut is one of the better centers in the East and Redd is still one of the top shooters. The Bucks were done in by their lack of rebounding, defense and shooting at the end of last season, but they have in house solutions for those matters. Their role players can play minor roles with success, but for that to happen these guys need to be healthy.

The word is that Redd is making significant progress with his knee rehab and should definitely be ready for opening night. Bogut can look to the same people who healed Tracy Mcgrady’s back to heal his…or not. On his blog he says he’ll be getting an MRI in another two weeks to make sure he’s fully healed before he begins working out. It’s a positive sign that he’ll be healed with so much time left in the off-season, but you never know what’s going to happen with back injuries like this.

Keep Ramon Sessions and Draft Tyreke Evans

That I want the Bucks to keep Ramon Sessions is a statement that explains itself. Sessions was the best player on the Bucks for large parts of the season after not even playing in the first two games. He took a strong hold on the starting point guard position and showed the ability to be a real legitimate starter for years to come. Are there some guys in this year’s draft that could be better than him? Yes. Johnny Flynn in particular looks like he could be a real dynamo, but drafting young point guards screams four or five year wait.

By the time most of these guys get to be any good they’d already be off on another team. Chauncey Billups was drafted by Boston. Steve Nash was drafted by Phoenix and blossomed for Dallas before returning. Baron Davis was drafted by the Hornets before taking over the Bay Area. I know that there are Deron Williams’ and Chris Pauls, but there is not one of those guys in this draft at the ten spot -- even if says Johnny Flynn is falling to the Bucks.

Evans has as much clear potential as anyone in this draft. He looked like a stud for damn near the entire season at Memphis and even played point guard for most of the year. I’m not saying he’s a future NBA point, but that shows he has some versatility and is more willing to help a team than going to Memphis and being a supposed street tough would indicate. The way Evans played in the NCAA tournament screamed future star. He got out there and put on a show when he needed to. Sometimes we put too much stake in stepping up in big moments, but I don’t think people are putting enough into him shining in Memphis last game against Missouri.

In the crapshoot known as a weak draft the only rule is to take the most talented player available.

Sorry Charlie

Charlie Villanueva really cannot return. I know the Bucks are going to be shopping Richard Jefferson, but that is not enough. They need a forceful defender at the four spot and Chuckie B. Shooting just isn’t going to cut it.

Someone please pay attention to the playoffs. Al Horford, Kendrick Perkins, Tyrus Thomas, Udonis Haslem, Kenyon Martin…notice a theme? Tough guy power forwards who are willing to play hard defense and grab big rebounds are pretty important to winning games. Martin and bench buddy Chris Anderson destroyed the Hornets. Thomas has been running around pushing people like a crazy man and making big plays. Horford plays like he’s 33.

The closest thing to any of these guys in the draft is Dejuan Blair, and I don’t think he’s going to be a better player than Ty Evans. The Bucks are better off trying to dump Villanueva and plug a random in at the four while they continue to search for the future at that spot.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

St. Louis Bucks?

As a little side note I am in St. Louis right now, and if the Bucks did have to move in the next five years or so, I think this might be a cool place. This is undoubtedly a baseball and hockey town, but it looks like all the local places really throw their support behind their teams.

They have the Scottrade Center which held 22,000 some for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in 2007 which is pretty good. I'm not sure what the luxury suite situation in there, but that is a lot of seats. They also have great chicken wings everywhere you go. Delightful.

The Cardinals suck though.

The Off-Season Part Two

The more I think about this off-season the more I think it’s going to be pretty unimportant. Every off-season is a big deal, but really the Bucks have a year or two before their regular or off-seasons really matter. They don’t have any important expiring contracts, the market is so bad that they shouldn’t face too much competition for resigning either of their (basically) restricted free agents, and they have what they likely believe is a solid core when healthy locked up for two more seasons together.

This summer screams of them finding ways to cut costs by auctioning their pick and/or Joe Alexander as Frank at Brewhoop has been pointing out lately. Regardless, I feel like these are some interesting questions they’ll be facing.

What We Aren’t Sure Of

Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson, where do they go from here?

At the most Redd and Jefferson will be the featured scorers on a resurgent Bucks team next year that makes a significant push for the sixth spot in the East. At the very least, one or both of them will be shipped off this summer for roughly half of their actual value. Their value is something that is up for debate though.

Both of them are still productive players at or just passed their primes. The obvious problem with both players is that they have contracts that are inflated and extensive. Both come up after the supposed glorious Summer of 2010, but given the extent that the ever worsening economy has affected the NBA who knows if that will even be as big of a deal as it was supposed to be. Nevertheless their contracts make them close to nuclear with regard to the trade market. The Bucks will likely have to take back pretty crappy players with abrasive contracts and/or attitude problems.

Of the two, Redd would likely have been more appealing this summer had his knee not exploded in January. Yes, he’ll be fine by the time the season starts, and yes he was never all that reliant on his explosion to begin with, but any time an aging shooting guard blows out his knee it’s never a good sign. When the Celtics acquired Ray Allen some people (Bill Simmons) were afraid of his ankles giving out, since he was an aging guard with bad ankles; a valid concern. The thing about Redd though, is that he has always been more of an arm shooter. He slings the ball up like an early Bart Simpson with a rock. This may keep his value at least at an acceptable level.

Jefferson lacks the one skill to make him all that attractive, but teams like the Blazers and Jazz who still need another piece may have renewed interest in him after likely playoff flame outs. Jefferson is even more overpaid than Redd, but he does make a little bit less. It’s likely that the Bucks will have to sweeten any deal with either of them with a young player or draft pick.

Who Is Joe Alexander?

What is this guy really capable of? Alexander reminds me of a baby tiger. He’s young and doesn’t really know what he’s doing yet. He has all this athleticism and speed but he’s usually running too fast for his own good and ends up stumbling over himself (so many silly turnovers). He picks on animals bigger than him and needs help defending himself (over matched on the defensive end). He can be a valuable member of the pack when coming over to help more established members during their battles (shot-blocking help from the weak side).

But near the end of the year Alexander has shown real signs of development. He’s not as hesitant to shoot when with the first team and isn’t rushing himself as often. He must be working hard in practice; otherwise Skiles would not have rewarded him with playing time over the past month.

Alexander compared this season to his freshman year in college. It has been all about adjusting and learning a whole new game. We often forget how different and intensified things are on the professional level. No one out there is a weak link and smaller things are so much more important due to the talent level. Missing a defensive rotation will result in a lay-up or easy basketball almost every time. There is no swinging to the crappy over matched freshman in the NBA, it’s swinging to another guy who can hit almost any shot and convert around the hoop.

Alexander certainly has a sweet looking stroke and upside. At this point I’d much rather have him than Yi Jianlian, so that means something right? Plus the more I look at him the more I feel like I’m watching Paul Reiser and Mad About You had good ratings and led to a successful career for Helen Hunt, so that’s a plus. I’m still hoping we have a Kerry Kittles after a growth spurt and some weight lifting on our hands.

Also, baby tigers grow into full grown killing machines eventually, keep that in mind.

What do you do with the 10/11 pick in a crappy draft?

This one I’ll handle separately as we get closer to draft day, but it boils down to a few choices. Keep the pick and hope the guy you get turns out, trade the pick alone or in a package, or trade Joe Alexander alone or in a package because what you’re getting with this pick will be better.

At this point I’d advocate trading this pick before jumping ship on Joey Dunks because he has a year under his belt and pretty good looking potential. Again, I’ll look back at this question throughout May and June, but it’s probably the key question in what may be a bland off-season.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Off-Season Part One of Three

Unfortunately the Bucks regular season has become the off season for the last few years. Fans have been much more interested in seeing if the Bucks can do anything good in the summer to possibly save themselves from the wreck fans are expecting each regular season. When Richard Jefferson was acquired last summer that was a bigger deal than any individual game the Bucks played this year. This is not a good thing.

Why did I not make note of these last two games this week? The last few games of a season of mediocrity is like the last few days of sixth grade. You’re about to go into a nondescript grade that is really not much to look forward to. The next few days really don’t matter and won’t be the party you’re hoping for because teachers want to pretend like there is still schoolwork to be done.

See the Bucks don’t appear to have a lot to look forward to this summer. Their draft pick is going to be middling in a draft that has been described as anywhere from less than stellar to a class that can be done without. Their two best young players are free agents (kind of) and their large contracts do not come off the books. In the cookbook of NBA success this is not the typical recipe.

But that does not preclude certain doom. I feel like we can break the Bucks off season plan up into three sections: What We Know, What We Aren’t Sure Of and What We Hope For.

What We Know

1. The Bucks are Bogut’s

Bogut emerged this year as a candidate for a double double every night. In his 35 games he averaged a double double and threw in a block a game for good measure. The blocks went down but his impact on the team’s defense was incredible. When Bogut was healthy the Bucks for the first time in years were a top ten defensive squad and the league’s best rebounding team. While down from the season previous, his PER of 16.23 was considerably more than either Dan Gadzuric’s 12.06 or Francisco Elson’s 10.33.

That alone explains Bogut’s incredible value to this team. Gadzuric and Elson will both be back next year as neither of their contracts expires and the production of each player does not merit the money they will be making. When a player has no suitable replacement it makes them that much more valuable. With Bogut in the lineup the Bucks were a team that could at the very least seriously contend for the last spot in the playoffs; without him they looked soft and vulnerable to anyone they were on the court with.

Bogut has the point guardian skill of making the Bucks players better. He also has the Arenasian skill of connecting well with the fans and having a pretty sneaky cool sense of humor. Bogut was on the cutting edge of the Twitter NBA boom and showed serious comedic chops when he busted out his Pitino White Suit.

When Bogut is in the game he opens up the middle for Ramon Sessions to drive. His defender need worry that he’ll finish a play if said defender steps in Ramon’s way because Bogut has such skill around the hoop. Bogut has the presence of space and fluidity that Gadzuric and Elson lack. When he is on the court you don’t see the awkward moves to the hoop and missed opportunities resulting in frustration for the rest of the players on the court. If Sessions knows that his well-intentioned messes inside will be cleaned up by a teammate he can feel significantly more confident on his many forays to the hoop.

2. A Parade of Average Role Players Will Return

The following players are under contract for next season at a cost exceeding their worth: Charlie Bell, Luke Ridnour, Malik Allen (Player Option), Francisco Elson (Player Option), and as always Dan Gadzuric. (I’m not going to say Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson. I’m not saying them because they are not role players, not because they are not seriously overpaid.) What’s unfortunate about this is that it will likely prevent them from taking a flier on a second round pick with promise. Each of these guys offers something with regard to being a veteran or skilled, but they are end of the bench guys, not the entire bench.

Of this group I’d say Ridnour is most likely to go straight up. Allen or Elson have smaller contracts and could be peddled in a bigger deal to match up payroll figures, but Ridnour has six and a half million dollar deal that could be seen as savings for another franchise. He still has value as a backup point guard or possibly a starter if a team is looking for a one year stop gap before someone younger develops. Ridnour showed a spark a few times this season and can be relied on as a free throw shooter and average long range gunner.

Hopefully other GM's leaguewide paid as much attention to the Bucks as the rest of America did and John Hammond can fool someone into taking Ridnour for something of value. He was in the conversation when they were talking about revamping Team USA a few years ago. Can we just promote that a whole bunch?

3. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute Has A Future

Even more than Joe Alexander and Ramon Sessions the Prince will be a certainty for next year. It's likely the Bucks will find a way to bring back Sessions, but Mbah a Moute will be very undervalued for at least one more season, which is key for a franchise as cash strapped as the Bucks are. Mbah a Moute is the best perimeter defender Milwaukee has seen in years and someone for fans to be excited about.

The way he outplayed Alexander all year really created something of a dilemma around these parts. The second round pick was not suppose to look so much better than an athletically superior first rounder, even if he had more college seasoning. He and Alexander both play the same position ideally, but Mbah a Moute showed a lot of grit in being able to move up to the four to play.

Excitement has been rare on 4th street in these last few years, so this youngster's value is hard to measure. He's already a favorite of coach Scott Skiles and is probably the one guy I haven't heard anyone in Milwaukee disparage.