The Weekly Bucks Report is posted every Tuesday on CH during the NBA season...written by a former WI sportswriter turned FIB magazine writer. He is known only as Two Name.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the Bucks at this point in the season is, will they make any trades before the mid-February deadline?
The one player who constantly surfaces in these discussions is Charlie Villanueva. If there is a more polarizing player on this team than the Big Smooth, let me know. You can love Charlie V one game and chastise him the next. That up-and-down performance is what I can’t decide exactly how I feel about the guy.
In my first Weekly Bucks Report, I said Villanueva had the most potential of any player on the roster. I still think that’s true. When he wants to play, he is a potential All-Star in this league – remember, players aren’t voted to the All-Star team based on their defense. Last Monday’s game against Toronto was the perfect example of how good Charlie V can be.
Mike Redd scored 35 points that game, but the Bucks would not have won if it weren’t for Villanueva. He scored 25 points, but his impact went beyond scoring. He grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. Plus, he fought for loose balls and came up with some big plays not reflected in the box score.
Villanueva has scored 23 points or more in four of the Bucks’ last six games. There’s two ways to look at his recent success: His trade value will never be higher, or the Bucks need to be prepared to pay him after his contract expires at the end of the season. Remember, the guy is only 24 and a former top-10 pick.
I know he’s soft and he might get even softer after he gets paid, but you can’t deny his explosiveness off the bench. It’s hard to find a 6-11 forward who can drop 20 on any given night. I think the only way you trade him is if you get a banging power forward who is young. I don’t want Nick Collison or Chris Wilcox in a straight-up trade for Charlie V. I need something more, especially the way he’s been playing lately.
I’m still split on this, but I’m leaning toward keeping Villanueva and seeing how the year plays out. What do you guys think?
Outside of Villanueva, I really don’t know who else John Hammond would trade on this roster. Ramon Sessions has value and would be attractive for many teams, but I doubt the Bucks would part with him, despite rumors. I think the East is weak enough that if the Bucks continue to improve, they could get out of the seventh or eighth spots – avoiding Boston or Cleveland – and build on some playoff experience.
Bogut returns: Bogut came off the bench against Minnesota after missing four straight games with back spasms. The Bucks split those games in his absence, but a lack of rebounding and a viable threat inside offensively changed the way teams approached the Bucks. Bogut responded nicely with 14 points Saturday on 7-of-8 shooting, but he missed two crucial free throws late in the loss to the T’wolves.
Misleading numbers?: Anybody who watched the Bucks fail to stop the penetrate-and-kick game that led to a ridiculous amount of three-pointers against New Jersey and Minnesota would find this hard to believe, but the Bucks are still hanging around the top-10 in defense. Milwaukee was fifth in the NBA in defense last week and the Bucks have dropped to eighth, as of Sunday. That is an impressive statistic, considering the defensive cloud that hangs over this franchise. But they have work to do after two late lapses allowed one team to get back into the game (New Jersey) and another (Minnesota) to steal a victory.
Player of the week: Without Villanueva and his 25 points, the Bucks never would have beaten Toronto last Monday.
This week: Another busy week for the Bucks, as they host Miami Wednesday before heading to the West Coast to face Sacramento and the Clippers. They need to go 2-1 this week, no questions asked.