State of the Bucks – Week 2
This is my first post on here as part of a weekly report on the Milwaukee Bucks. If anyone doesn’t like my format, or even my title, please let me know. I’m a nice guy.
Welcome to “State of the Bucks – Week 2″. The season is fully under way, and there is a lot to look at from last week’s games as well as what is on tap for the upcoming week.
Last Week’s Results:
@ New Orleans, Lost 95-91
@ Minnesota, Lost 96-85
Vs. Charlotte, Won 98-88
vs. Portland, Lost 90-76
The biggest part of the Bucks’ success in the 09-10 season was team chemistry. That cannot be stressed enough; that Bucks team played well together, better than any in the last 20-25 years. The players that were here wanted to be here, and coach Scott Skiles was able to get the most out of each one.
Fast forward to the first week of the 2010-11 season, and fans knew that the same chemistry would be difficult to match, at least until the team has a few games under their belt. That proved to be terribly true during three of the first four games, losing two winnable matches on the road to open the season. Game 3 was an improvement but not by much. High turnovers and low shooting percentages will persist until the team is comfortable with each other.
Player(s) of the Past Week:
It’s early. Very early. But I give player of the week to Carlos Delfino, who is already averaging better than last year in some categories: points, turnovers, defensive rebounds, FG% and minutes. Delfino handles himself well when forced to score most of the team’s points and his effort is the best around. He is a consistent option to rely on until Andrew Bogut is 100% and the offense can start running through him again. At this rate it will be hard to move Delfino out of the starting lineup.
Other Standout Players:
Corey Maggette was brought in at a disgustingly-great deal* to fix the team’s biggest problem last year: getting to the free throw line. The easiest points in the game, and the Bucks were second-worst in the entire league. While they haven’t soared to the top of the league yet, Maggette has done his part attacking the basket and adding another dimension to an offense that is constantly expanding.
Two criticisms for Maggette so far this season: he needs to finish smarter around the basket to avoid unnecessary charging calls, and the defense has to begin at some point. Otherwise his 21 minutes/game will not improve.
*(next two years total, Bucks pay 4.5 mil beyond what they would have paid benchwarmers Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric. I know, what a deal!)
Highlights of the Past Week:
Brandon Jenning’s first career triple double (20, 10, 10), along with a higher assist average than last year.
Andrew Bogut’s 4-block effort on Saturday vs. Charlotte. His presence alone in the lane forced the Bobcats to stay away from the basket. Bogut is already averaging 2.5 blocks per game, and that number should stay strong as the year progresses.
Disappointment of the Past Week:
Hard to call this a “disappointment”, but the team hasn’t been able to buy a basket all week. It’s nice to have guys on your team that can hit their jumpshots, but everybody has off nights. NBA players will always bounce back from poor shooting nights; otherwise they wouldn’t be in the NBA.
After 4 games, the team is averaging fewer assists/game than last year. It’s doesn’t necessarily fall on Jennings, as his numbers are up. With so many scorers on the team, everyone needs to become proficient in the passing game.
This Week’s Games:
Wednesday Nov 3rd, @ Boston (ESPN)
Friday Nov 5th, @ Indiana
Saturday Nov 6th, vs. New Orleans
Tuesday Nov 9th, vs. New York
Things to Watch For:
What could have realistically been a 3-1 opening week is now a 1-3 record. Will their be pressure playing in primetime against an elite Boston team?
Continue to pay attention to how newcomers Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden perform. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, especially when the old dogs have new owners who know how to properly teach new tricks. Both players lack the aggressive attitude that is expected of them.
Match-up to Watch:
New York has bodies but no brains at the center position. Watch for Andrew Bogut and newly-acquired Knicks PF Amar’e Stoudemire to battle. With the money he is paid, Stoudemire is THE go-to guy on the floor. In their last 4 matchups, Bogut has rebounded well but also suffered foul trouble in 3 of those games, the exception being the game he suffered the wrist injury late last season. The last few times Stoudemire has done well against Bogut, he also had Shaquille O’Neal as a center. In New York, that dominant big man is not there.
Once again, there are 3 very winnable games in this bunch. The Bucks have their first ESPN game tonight @ Boston. Boston is a top-3 team in the East, and Milwaukee needs to bring the best of everything to win that. If Milwaukee takes a win in Boston, there will officially be no more sneaking up on anybody.
It’s a very tough opening schedule and the players still trying to fit into the offense and defense, well, that will take time. After 15 games or so, there might be some struggles that will give fans a lot of concern. But once the Bucks become that complete team, they’ll start getting the attention they deserve. Will all that attention be a good or bad thing? That remains to be seen.