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.