What about them? They’re in the hunt for yet another lottery pick, that’s what. For the life of me I can’t figure out why. They’re 24-46 and for the first time in a while I can’t come up with an excuse. I need a reason why, despite the years of high draft picks, the Milwaukee Bucks still stink. I need some kind of explanation, I need to know the how and why behind the failure. Embark on this journey of discovery with me.
Breaking it Down, Position by Position
Michael Redd – 4th among SG with 23.3 ppg. Only shooting .369 from beyond the arc, but still among the most dangerous at his position. Maybe you criticize his defense, or point out that his 3pt % is lower than normal. I just don’t see Redd as the obstacle in this situation. Maybe Milwaukee’s dependence on his 23 a night is a stumbling block, but its not a bad problem to have, as far as problems go.
Mo Williams – 6th in scoring among PGs this year with 17.8 ppg. Shoots well from beyond the arc, however is middle of the pack in assists, coming in 14th with 6.4 per game. He doesn’t come up with a whole lot of steals, but bringing that up means I’m just grasping for straws. The only valid criticism to have is that Mo needs to make more meaningful passes, but even that seems a little like a cheap shot.
Andrew Bogut – 6th in scoring among centers with 13.9 ppg (which is a far cry from Amare’s 25, but still not bad). Tied for 14th league wide with 9.5 rebounds, and is 9th in blocks with 1.76 pg. The 7 footer seems to be earning the money that comes with the number one pick. Can you lay the blame at the Australian’s feet? Should he try to be a stronger presence on the defensive glass? I’m just not sure how much more the Bucks can ask of this guy. The only people in Milwaukee outscoring him are Redd and Williams.
Yi Jianlian – top ten in rookie scoring, #28 in scoring by PF’s with 8.6 in 25 mpg. I guess I only dislike the inconsistency. He may be averaging eight and a half, but he only got 2 points against Miami last week. It’s nice that he’s tall, and I’m sure that he’ll be pretty good in the future, but WHY draft him 7th overall when you have Charlie Villanueva on the roster? But what’s done is done, he’s on the team for the foreseeable future. If Yi’s going to get the minutes the Bucks need him to improve.
Charlie Villanueva – What to say about Charlie Villanueva? That he’s top 20 in PF scoring? That he outscores and out rebounds Yi despite fewer minutes? That he’s getting 10.7 ppg and 5.8 rpg in only 22 minutes? Interesting Fun Fact: Villanueva’s minutes have decreased each year with the Bucks despite the fact that he’s been the best PF on the team for the last two seasons. This is a guy who could average 16/10 if you let him play 30+ mpg. Why won’t this happen? Is it the alopecia?
Desmond Mason – If only this was the Desmond Mason from 04-05 who was getting 17 ppg and shooting .802 from the line. Sadly this is the 07-08 Desmond Mason who is getting 9.3 ppg and shooting .628 from the stripe. He’s getting fewer minutes this year, mostly because his ppg, rpg and FT% are all way down. He used to be a 14/6 guy whose FT% was .750-.800. I don’t know what happened but for the last 3 seasons he can’t make a free throw to save his life, and for a guy with a piss poor jumper this spells trouble (right here in River City). I don’t care about him winning a Slam Dunk contest, and I don’t care about flash and style. I don’t expect Mason feels the same way, and that’s a problem.
The Bench – What’s to say here? Am I supposed to get excited over Charlie Bell, Bobby Simmons and Royal Ivey? Is Dan Gadzuric supposed to trip my trigger? Maybe Simmons should get some more of Mason’s minutes, seeing as Bobby could probably match or beat Mason’s numbers with Mason’s minutes (Plus Simmons is a passable 3-pt threat). Maybe Royal Ivey can play the role of back-up PG reasonably well. I’d just like to know why it was so necessary to spend so much money on Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric. Here’s a (not so funny) joke: Q: What’s the difference between Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric? A: Dan is shooting over .400!!! If I’m the Bucks new GM I can’t wait to lose Bell in a trade. I send Bell and $7 mil for a 2nd rounder. There’s no reason for him to be playing 24 minutes a game. Bell and Gadzuric are both under contract for the next 4 years, Bell for $3+ mil this season and Gadzuric for $5+ mil this year. What a fucking mess, No? The only question about this fiasco I have left is what took so long to fire Larry Harris?
Larry Krskwtkzstk How the hell do you spell this guys name anyway? I don’t have any real criticism of this Larry, but I don’t know if he can make Milwaukee work with the money constraints that former GM Larry Harris’ legacy will be. I’m not sure anyone can. I won’t blame him for the end result this year, and I hope he does well, but there are only a few coaches in the NBA who have a deep impact on their teams. Besides Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan and Stan Van Gundy’s mustache there really aren’t that many men who can help teams play beyond their talent level. Maybe Larry needs to refine his system, whatever it might be, or maybe he needs to learn how to light a fire under his guys. I don’t know for sure, but he deserves at least another year, as well as some input into the draft.
The Monkey’s Bottom Line
The Bucks failure as a team comes down to a few things, the least addressable of which is the shortsightedness of Larry Harris’ roster moves. The Bucks are saddled with 4 years of an $8 million bench-warming duo in Gadzuric and Bell. There’s nothing really to be done about that now, save for suckering some idiot (read Kevin McHale) into a lopsided trade.
Milwaukee needs a SF that isn’t Desmond Mason. Maybe you use that lottery pick on a SF, but after Michael Beasley who is there to take, some Italian guy? Maybe you address it through free agency, but how much luxury tax is Kohl willing to pay? Maybe you just hope that the magic ball gives Milwaukee the 1st overall pick. It’s happened before. Multiple times. Of course the Bucks have had enough chances…
Lastly (probably not the last thing, but last on my short list) the Bucks need to quit fiddle-fucking around at PF. Just play the best guy the majority of the minutes and stop hurting the teams rhythm by swapping Yi and Villanueva in and out. Hell, I’d be happy if Larry K just went for a Very Tall look by playing Villanueva at SF and Yi at PF. You’re 24-46, why the hell not?