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.