Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bucks Watch: Season Observations

With the Packers having completely bottomed out, I've turned my attention to the Bucks. (SIDE NOTE: Thank God the Packers hired the offensive coordinator from a 4-12 team, who didn't even get an interview with any other NFL squad. It would have totally sucked to have Eric Mangini (7-5) or Sean Payton (8-4) coaching the Packers. I will now go immerse my head in lime jello.)

Some Bucks observations:

Three of the Bucks' starters have the letter "C" on their jersey, indicating they are team captains (Mo Williams, Michael Redd, and Andrew Bogut). That's most of the starting five - wouldn't the other two feel a little left out? What do you have to do not to be named a team captain? Smoke Marlboros at the free throw line?

The Bucks will never be a winning team with Mo Williams as their starting point guard. He's a selfish, me-first guard who doesn't play any defense and isn't interested in running any kind of offense to make sure that the players that can shoot are the ones taking the shots. Because of Mo, Michael Redd disappears for whole quarters while Ruben Patterson, Steve Blake, and Charlie Bell are jacking up long jump shots. He's killing Andrew Bogut's development as a player, since he always settles for his own jump shot instead of forcing the ball inside. With Williams at the point, there's no theme - no plan for how to attack a defense. Everyone just runs around, clueless as to who is going to take the shot at the end of the possession. Most importantly, he has a disturbing amount of hair on his shoulders.

Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva are 14 feet of pure, uncut ugly.

I don't understand why the Bucks' front office hasn't figured out what every Bucks fan already knows - that Steve Blake isn't an NBA player. Sure, he tries hard, but he simply doesn't have the skill level to play point guard at the highest level. He can't defend quick guards, his shooting has been horrific, and he turns the ball over at inopportune times. And this is what the Bucks got for a former all-star seven footer (Jamal Magloire)? It's like the Bucks had a halftime fan shooting contest and someone forgot that the guy they pulled in from the stands is actually still on the court.

Everyone likes the stories of second round draft picks that make it onto an NBA roster and succeed. However, if you have an entire team full of second round picks, it might be time to re-evaluate whether the talent level of your team is where it needs to be. Here's the current makeup of the current Bucks that see any amount of playing time (and yes, it took me 30 minutes to look this up):

Charlie Bell - undrafted
Steve Blake - second round
Andrew Bogut - first round
Dan Gadzuric - second round
Lynn Greer - undrafted
Ersan Ilyasova - second round
David Noel - second round
Ruben Patterson - second round
Michael Redd - second round
Bobby Simmons - second round
Brian Skinner - first round
Charlie Villanueva - first round
Mo Williams - second round

That's eight second-rounders, three first-rounders, and two undrafted players. Granted, second rounders can turn into great players (see Redd, for example). And Lord knows, there have been plenty of first round busts (Shawn Respert, anyone? Tractor Traylor?) But there's a reason players fall out of the first round - generally they have a significant deficiency in their game (like the ability to play it, in Steve Blake's case). Do you really want to roll the dice as a GM on an entire team made up of significantly flawed players?

One of the benefits of having the NBA Full Court package is being able to see local team announcers from around the country. This has allowed me to confirm what I already suspected - that the Bucks' announcers are the worst in the NBA. As if the team isn't bad enough, Paschke and McGlocklin make watching local games nearly unbearable. It's always the same - McGlocklin's old stories about Kareem, the Bucks never commit a foul, excessive use of the term "reload," and on and on. I need McGlocklin as my personal representative to my wife for when I screw up - "There's NO WAY he forgot to pick up milk on the way home from work. THERE'S JUST... NO... WAY!"

Paschke trying to push the nickname of "The Cowboy" on Desmond Mason because he went to Oklahoma State was the low point in local sports broadcasting for the last 20 years. I love being able to turn to a game and not be able to tell which team's announcers are calling it. When it's the Bucks announcers, you're better off throwing on the headphones and listening to some tunes.

I had planned on just killing Terry Stotts for using a ridiculous zone defense for the recent west coast swing. But with the Bucks going 2-1 on the road trip so far, it's hard to argue the results - although they are winning in spite of the zone, not because of it.

Playing an exclusively zone defense in the NBA is absolutely ridiculous. Professional coaches and players are too good not to figure it out. As a head coach, it amounts to waving a white flag and conceding that your team either doesn't have the heart to play any defense, or you as a coach aren't willing to teach your team to defend. It worked in the first game of the road trip against the Lakers, because it took them by surprise and they can't shoot.

Playing zone the entire game against the Phoenix Suns, one of the best shooting teams in the NBA, was absurd. Yet the Bucks sit back and let Steve Nash get to the middle of the lane and hit shooter after shooter for wide open three pointers. Plus, it's harder to rebound in a zone (you don't have an assigned man to block out), and it's harder to defend in transition (you don't have an assigned man to pick up, which is why Golden State's Troy Murphy hit five three pointers in the third quarter against the Bucks).

The Packers are dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed. The Bucks are second to last in the NBA in points per game allowed. The Brewers were 25th in major league baseball in team ERA at the end of last year. The State Legislature can't even keep gay people from scoring. There truly is no "D" in "Wisconsin."

Oh, and the Bucks uniforms look pretty good. That is all.

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