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Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee Bucks

Why the Milwaukee Bucks may be this year’s surprise breakout team

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Last year’s Phoenix Suns ultra-breakout was a fun story, because nobody, like almost literally nobody, predicted it. They were supposed to be awful, they won 48 Gs. A jump that big never happens.

Is there a potential breakout team this year? I’ve got one name on my mind the more I look at it: Milwaukee

Milwaukee is coming off a horrendous 15-67 season where everything that could go wrong, did. However they were a 38-44 playoff team in 2012-2013 and came into 2013-2014 with a roster hoping to make the playoffs, before injuries or off court issues got to them.

A legitimate frontcourt

What’s important to note about the 2012-2013 team is they had a near clear cut two most valuable players and it wasn’t Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis, who’s poor defense and chucking seasons that year rarely helps teams. It was Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova, who despite providing little to the Bucks in 2013-2014, there’s no reason to think they won’t be back to normal in terms of health and motivation this year.

Sanders and Ilyasova is an ideal front-court combination. Sanders in 2012-2013 was a defensive player of the year candidate at centre, but had little offensive skills. Which made Ilyasova’s stretch power forward game the ideal compliment, opening up the offense in a say Sanders cannot. When taking into account efficiency and volume, calling Ilyasova the best scorer and overall offensive producer on the Bucks that season is also most likely the right call. Neither Sanders or Ilyasova made the all-star game, but the combined offensive and defensive value of the pair should not be underestimated when constructing a team.

The rest of the Bucks big men isn’t so bad a look either. John Henson’s per minute numbers have been above average in the NBA with a solid combination of FG%, blocked shots and rebounding per minute. Zaza Pachulia is also a reliable, backup energy big man who’s still only 30. You can do worse than Henson or Pachulia. Jabari Parker may also play power forward for the Bucks. While it’s unclear if he’ll be efficient or defensively competent, he will space the floor at least if he’s at the 4 which helps the offense.

The perimeter may be more effective than it looks

The Bucks perimeter rotation appears to be a bigger weakness, but the whole may be greater than its parts. What’s important about Brandon Knight, Jerryd Bayless, Nate Wolters, O.J. Mayo, Jared Dudley, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker is none project to be horrible, non-rotation caliber players. With the exception of Parker, the rest have established very passable production and roles in a rotation.

What I’d want these perimeter players to do is this: Space the floor, pass the ball and put pressure on the other team defensively. These are things elite talent is not always needed to do. The Bucks perimeter may be capable of this. Khris Middleton had a strong 3pt shooting season last year at 41.4% on 3.5 attempts a game and while O.J. Mayo in an off season overall shot 37.0% from 3 on 4.4 attempts a game. Dudley did not feel healthy last year but has hit 3s well historically with a career 3pt average of 39.7%. Having three good 3pt shooters at SG and SF is an asset for the Bucks. Of course neither may be as important as Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the perimeter, who statistically had a mediocre season last year transitioning to the NBA, but flashed his talent. In summer league and FIBA he looked exceptional. Jason Kidd’s Nets defense last year relied on aggressive trapping defensively, which could fit Giannis’ role on the Bucks perfectly. At 34.7% from 3 on 1.5 attempts a game last year it’s also possible he makes a leap as a shooter. If Giannis could turn into an impact aggressive defender as soon as next year, it could provide a valuable compliment to Larry Sanders in the front court and shooters who struggle defensively like Dudley, Mayo and Middleton.

That leaves PG where the Bucks have competition between Brandon Knight, Nate Wolters, Jerryd Bayless and Kendall Marshall. It’s hard to tell which way Kidd will choose with these points. Knight led the Bucks in points and assists last year, but was the type of high volume, inefficient guard on a bad team that can later go by the wayside when his teammates improve. Knight needs to improve his 3pt% past the 32.5% it was last year to become an established starter. Marshall’s passing skill may be a nice fit with other shooters on the roster and he himself hit nearly 40% from 3 last year, but defensively he struggles. Bayless has winning experience from playing in Memphis but his productivity relies on his 3pt shooting which has been on and off in his career. Wolters on paper didn’t do a whole lot well last year, but is a big guard with passing vision and upside if he can shoot better. Overall, PG isn’t going to be the Bucks strength but if they can get average production out of the position it could be enough.

Jason Kidd and a winning culture?

Under previous ownership the Bucks were never the franchise to lie down and tank, which some claim dooms them to mediocrity. It was possible the new owners would take the Bucks in a Sixers like, draft picks orientated path, but my feeling is the Jason Kidd hiring tips their hand. Kidd does not make sense for the Bucks and the Bucks do not make sense for Kidd, unless they have plans to start winning sooner than later.

What Kidd may have saw is a team built to mimic how he turned the Nets around without Brook Lopez. By playing Pierce at power forward the Nets spaced the floor and played aggressive perimeter defense. The Bucks may be set up to do that, with the Ilyasova and Sanders front court flanked by floor spacing candidates like Knight, Dudley, Mayo, Middleton, Parker, etc. and a full court athlete in Antetokounmpo. The Bucks may not only find themselves with the right coach to take advantage of their talent, but their talent level may be underrated anyways because our eyes drift to the top of a roster instead of looking at whether all 10-12 guys in the rotation deserve to be getting minutes in the NBA, which may be the case with the Bucks.

While I don’t expect the Bucks to win as many games as the Suns next year, some of the ingredients may be similar from internal improvement of young players, a new coaching implementing progressive strategies offensively and defensively and veterans finding their games within this system.

Written by jr.

October 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Searching for Bill Russell ~ Starring Anthony Davis (2012)

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That didn't really happen did it?

The more I learn about basketball’s history, the more impressed with Bill Russell I am. Like many, I at one point found it hard to believe that Russell could truly be a more valuable player than Wilt Chamberlain. Now, the primary reason for that was that I couldn’t imagine Russell’s more one way game matching the two way dominance of Chamberlain, and if you know me, you know that since then I’ve written fairly extensively on just how flawed Chamberlain’s offense was. There was also the matter though of me just having a false ceiling in my head for just how dominant a team can get on one side of the ball.

If you go by the estimates of offensive and defensive team efficiency given by basketball-reference.com, the curve of extremely good results seems very well behaved. Here are the best sides that side lists based on percentage edge over median:


You can see the teams here are all in the same ballpark. You might also notice that Steve Nash is on 3 of the top 5 offenses, which is quite remarkable. Most importantly though, you might notice how modern all these teams are. Nothing from earlier than 1993. Remarkable, no? Well, it is remarkable, but there is a catch: basketball-reference only provides estimates from 1974 on. What happened before that?

Bill Russell did 6 impossible things before breakfast

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NBA Franchise Power Rankings – #26: Milwaukee Bucks

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Andrew Bogut going for a rebound.

Image via Wikipedia

Previous rankings:

#30 - Charlotte Bobcats (+ introduction)

#29 - Phoenix Suns

#28 - Denver Nuggets

#27 - Detroit Pistons


#26 – Milwaukee Bucks

Total Trade Value ranking: #25 (Feb. 2011 ranking – #22)
Managerial Grade: C
Financial Grade: D
Estimated Record next year: 45-50 W playoff team

Best assets – C Andrew Bogut (middle age, borderline all-star), PG Brandon Jennings (young, projects as bench player to borderline starter), 2012 Mil 1st, SF/PF Tobias Harris (young, projects as bench player to borderline starter), 2013 Mil 1st, PF/C Larry Sanders (young, projects as bench player to borderline starter), SF/PF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (borderline starter), PF Ersan Ilyasova (borderline starter), PF/C Jon Leuer (rookie, projects as bench player to borderline starter)

Bad contracts: PF Drew Gooden (4 years, 26 million), PG Beno Udrih (2 years, 15 million), SG/SF Stephen Jackson (2 years, 19.3 million)

Other chips: SG Carlos Delfino, PG Keyon Dooling

Overall synopsis: This is the lowest ranking I have for a team I think will actually be good next year. The Bucks centerpiece the last number of years has been Andrew Bogut, arguably the 2nd most valuable center in the league and the type of player everyone wants. Unfortunately the Bucks are very weak in other starting caliber young assets. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

September 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Why New York should think twice about getting Melo

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Y’all are probably tired of just hearing from me, so please enjoy a post from Julien Rodger.  Julien has been a commenter on ASFW from the beginning, and is also part of the rogue’s gallery over at RealGM.  I’m looking forward to hearing more of his thoughts on this forum. ~MJ



I’m not just a contrarian by opposing this. On the surface it’s hard to deny getting a star like Carmelo Anthony for next to nothing

But look, just because someone offers you free candy doesn’t mean you should take it. I see a number of hazards coming with the Knicks acquiring Carmelo Anthony

Amare, Melo and Felton will cost 43 and 47 million the next two years, if Felton is extended that number will go even higher the years after. With a 57 mil or so salary cap, bringing in supporting depth and badly needed interior defense after this will be difficult and take years. Unlike the Heat, I don’t see the Knicks being more than a 2nd round team without this. Spending on Melo also means no chance at Paul, Deron, or Dwight’s free agencies. Melo, Amare and minimum player cap holds will take them to 48 million payroll alone in 2012 free agency, giving them no chance at a 3rd maximum player even if the new CBA doesn’t prevent such star groupings.

Carmelo and Amare are worth max money as high volume, 25ppg scorers. But on the same team this contribution will overlap. The marginal utility of a 2nd high volume scorer is nowhere near as high as the 1st. Amare and Carmelo don’t contribute much else to the game but scoring, fortunately Felton fits well as their playmaker, but again I question whether paying Melo maximum money for a dominant scorer you already have is worth giving up any interior defense or bench. They will be great offensively, but the Knicks already are with Felton and Amare alone. Melo’s production is not a direct need.

Perhaps most importantly is the question of winning foundation and culture. Can you go to war with Carmelo and Amare like you can players like Kevin Garnett? I don’t think so. Carmelo looked like he was making a leap as a winning player after the Billups trade, but his quitting on Denver and pandering to New York is reminding me increasingly of Vince Carter. He wants to go to New York not to win more games, but because it’s New York. The best place for him to win a title would be Orlando or Dallas (or my ‘no chance in hell’ choice, the Milwaukee Bucks. Seriously Melo and Bogut would be perfect), but it’s the lights of New York and not the Finals that attracts him, which worries me.

Speaking of Vince. I can’t help but think of December 2004 when after making the finals in 2002 and 2003 and an underrated 2004 war with the champion Pistons, the Nets were offered Carter in a similar free candy situation and took it. Pre Vince they were a dominant defensive team with depth and toughness. Post Vince, they had no frontcourt or depth after the Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson salaries and were a soft 2nd round knockout. In retrospect perhaps the right move was going forward with Kidd, Jefferson and a troupe of good role players instead of biting on Carter. The Bulls did this by saying no to Melo for Noah and it looks brilliant right now. The Knicks could regret a Melo acquisition for the same reasons.

I am also reminded of Iverson and Melo’s pairing in Denver. Like Melo and Amare, both players contributed as scorers only and the marginal utility of adding Iverson was not high because of what Melo already gave them. Defense and culture wise that Nuggets team was also nowhere close to what you want to go far in the playoffs. Iverson and Melo prove you can’t just match 2 offensive stars together and expect a contender, let alone more than a 1st round knockout as a guarantee.

The Knicks have been waiting a long time to win games again. With Felton, Melo and Amare they will be a shoo in for 45 win+ seasons and 2nd round appearances for the immediate future. It’s better than the Isiah era. It’s not a strikeout. But everyone knows the real drought for Knicks fans isn’t the 10 years since they’ve have been pretty good, but the 37 years since their last title. If the Knicks are serious about winning a title anytime soon they should do a double take on trading for or signing Melo, because I have a hard time seeing a Melo and Amare led team seriously competing for the NBA championship.

Written by jr.

December 15, 2010 at 7:20 pm