After the Milwaukee Bucks returned from their losing West Coast swing this week, coach (gritty, gutty) Scott Skiles made an interesting comment. In addressing the team’s defensive shortcomings Skiles noted that “Not everyone has bought into what we’re trying to do”. Obviously, Skiles didn’t “out” anyone (there’s no percentage in that) but my suspicion is that at least one of the players he was talking about was guard Michael Redd.

Now it should come as no surprise to anyone who has paid even casual attention to the Bucks pathetic play of the last few years that their struggles are due in no small part to a lack of commitment on defense. And one of the constants throughout that time has been the play of Michael Redd.

Don’t take this the wrong way. I have nothing personally against Redd. By all public accounts, he’s an upstanding professional athlete who has a large charitable presence in the Milwaukee community. As a player, he worked hard to turn himself from an unheralded second round draft pick into an all-star caliber shooting guard. The Bucks in turn rewarded that improvement with an ill-advised “max contract”. And that contract has forced the team into relying on Redd for a contribution that is beyond his skill set.

It’s no coincidence that the last time the Bucks had a winning record was when Redd was one of the NBA’s leading sixth men. It’s the role for which he is best suited; providing instant offense off the bench on those occasions when the team is struggling to score. As a starter, however, Redd too often disrupts the flow of the offense with questionable shot selection and he is either unwilling or unable to be an effective defender. Unfortunately, the Bucks are compelled to keep him in the starting lineup to justify his paycheck and because they currently have no other guards that bring the offensive threat that Redd does.

I do believe the tandem of Skiles and GM John Hammond have the Bucks headed in the right direction again after the front office has floundered in recent years. But I don’t think they’ll be able to take the next step up to consistent playoff contention until they find an alternative to Michael Redd at shooting guard.

 

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