Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekly Bucks Report - Bucks 2008 Preview - Part 1

Every Monday or Tuesday this NBA season, a report on the Milwaukee Bucks will be posted right here at Chuckie Hacks. It will be written by a man known in certain circles as Two Name, a man who knows far too much about the Milwaukee Bucks (and the NBA for that matter) for his own good.

After the recent success of the Brewers and Packers, the Bucks are definitely 3rd (or even 4th) fiddle in Milwaukee, and might not gather much attention around the rest of the state. I'm sure a good percentage of folks in WI harbor negative feelings towards the NBA (myself included), but that's not going to stop us from posting these reports every week. At least we can say this about this upcoming team: Bobby Simmons (aka: the Jeffrey Hammonds of Bucks history) is not longer with the team. Thank God.

The first report is a preview of the Bucks, broken down into 2 parts. Check us out tomorrow afternoon for the 2nd half of the Bucks preview.

Loyal, crazed Bucks fans reside in the minority, not the majority, in the city of Milwaukee. It’s unfortunate, but understandable. All Milwaukee fans want is teams that play hard and make them feel like they didn’t throw away money when they came to the arena. The Bucks haven’t provided fans with that feeling lately.

With GM John Hammond and coach Scott Skiles now running the show, I think fans will turn the corner and start supporting the Bucks again. Not everybody will be all-in this season, because the team will struggle. But at least they will be able to witness the building blocks in place. Fans who do come to the BC will need to keep a program on hand to learn about all the new players comprising this revamped roster. With that in mind …

Let’s take a closer look at the team heading into the opener Tuesday against the Bulls in Chicago, starting with the projected starting five. The next installment will contain write-ups on the reserves, with a few other thoughts.

Luke Ridnour
2007-2008 stats: 6.4 ppg; 4 apg; 1.5 rpg (with Seattle)
The numbers aren’t great, that’s for sure. He was the backup point guard in Seattle – the worst team in the Western Conference last year – and he played behind Earl Watson, not exactly a household name in the Association. That being said, we actually will get to see a player who relishes being a point guard and all that role entails – passing, penetrating, and putting the best players in position to score. That will be a welcome sight for Bucks fans after watching shoot-first, out-of-control floor “leaders” of the past, such as Sam Cassell (yes, Sam was great for what he was, but that wasn’t being a point guard), T.J. Ford, and Mo Williams. Scott Skiles demands more out of his point guard than another other position on the floor, hence why Mo is running with LeBron and Ridnour is quarterbacking the Bucks. Ridnour will not “wow” you, but he’s an efficient NBA player, and he won’t make you pull your hair out after witnessing the point guard hoist up jumpers before a single teammate possesses the ball. Last point about Ridnour that many forget: The committee for USA Basketball invited him to try out for the team that competed in the World Championships in 2006 and the Olympics this summer. He didn’t make the roster, but interesting nonetheless.

Michael Redd
2007-2008 stats: 22.7 ppg; 3.4 apg; 4.3 rpg
I like this guy. I really do. But I like the Mike Redd that played behind Ray Allen early in his career and earned both his money and his minutes. After getting paid with a careless maximum contract, it’s gone to his head. He believes he’s in the same tier as superstars in his salary bracket, but he’s not even close. So, too often, he tries to shoot himself into that bracket by hogging the ball, trying to fill the box score. He ran three coaches out of town, despite the persona that he’s such a great citizen, teammate, Christian, blah, blah, blah. But, finally, the Bucks have a coach Redd cannot control, which is good for him and the team. He is a superb shooter, and it ends there. That specific ability is the only reason he has a gold medal. If he wants to take the ball to the rim and get fouled from time to time, that’s fine, but the offense no longer should run through No. 22. Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson will take the scoring pressure off Redd, but he still can have a significant impact with his shooting ability. He doesn’t have to worry about Mo not passing to him, which resulted in stagnant possessions with Redd holding the ball for the duration of the shot clock. Now there’s a point guard who will find him on the perimeter to knock down shots. Scoring will go down for Mike, but overall team impact should elevate – IF he buys in.

Andrew Bogut
2007-2008 stats: 14.3 ppg; 9.8 rpg; 2.6 apg; 1.7 bpg
I’ve been a Bogut guy since he was at Utah. I vigorously defended him as he struggled to become a key cog on this team. Bucks fans were disappointed at first, but most have come around. He achieved the above stats without being considered the No. 1 or 2 option last season. Now that he is the No.1 option – at least he is being paid as such and Skiles has hinted that this will be the case – 18 points and 10 rebounds should be the rule, not the exception. He should touch the ball on each possession. Not shoot every time, but find a cutting Jefferson or Redd spotting up for an open jumper if he doesn’t take it himself. The Bucks look lost without him in the preseason. He is attracting double teams, which makes it easier for a roster not loaded with the most talented players in the world. He will be an All-Star this year, assuming he stays healthy, which has been a problem this offseason/preseason. His free-throw shooting is atrocious, but he’ll soon find out that Skiles won’t give him the ball late if he’s throwing up bricks at the stripe. Big year coming up for my guy.

Charlie Villanueva
2007-2008 stats: 11.7 ppg; 6.1 rpg; 1.0 apg
Charlie V is the player with the most potential on this roster. What can’t he do? Shoot? Check. Rebound? Check. Penetrate? Check. Hustle? Oh wait … If he wants to, Villanueva can realize that untapped potential this season. IF he wants to. Yi is no longer in his path, so playing time will be aplenty. According to offseason reports, he has been working his ass off coming into the year. He’s talked about getting eight rebounds a game. I like all of this. But until he brings it 100 percent every night, he will be considered a disappointment. Remember, he was picked seventh overall in 2005, six spots behind Bogut.

Richard Jefferson
2007-2008 stats: 22.6 ppg; 4.2 rpg; 3.1 apg (with New Jersey)
Love this addition. The Bucks haven’t had a guy with this much talent – who doesn’t settle for jump shots – in a long time. He loves to slash to the hoop and puts pressure on the defense. I envision his ability to get to the basket leading to easy jumpers for Redd and layups for Bogut. He’s physical and plays strong defense. I like how he nearly fought the Bulls’ Andres Nocioni the other night – we need more guys like RJ. He will play with fire and comes with a winning pedigree. Good luck to Yi, but we won’t miss him when Jefferson is having a lasting impact this year.


highplaya said...

Ah the optimism of a new Bucks season.

Nubs said...

Weekly? That is a little excessive. How about one and only.

Plesac's A Traitor said...

There's an NBA team in this town? I thought they left after the 2000 season.

Goldy said...

Nice preview, but you failed to note that most of us reading this site could play D about as well as Ridenour does.

Matt said...

I like the Bucks talk, but am not high on Charlie V. I hope he proves me wrong, but I just don't think he's a guy who can start in the NBA. He's fine if you just accept him for what he is - a big who can come off the bench and score and pose matchup problems for another team on the offensive end, but who is such a liability on defense that he can't play 35 minutes a night. Since the Bucks already have 2 other huge liabilities on defense in the starting 5 (Redd and Ridnour) I think Charlie V comes off the bench.

Two Name said...

Good point on Ridnour's lack of defensive ability. But at least it won't be for a lack of effort, like it was with Mo and still is with Redd and others. Ridnour can't be any worse than Mo, but that's not saying much.