Do’s and Don’ts Learned In Exhibition
When the last shot of a one point game is going to Dan Gadzuric, you know the play wasn’t executed correctly.
But thank goodness we’re still in the pre-season.
To be fair, Gadz had a very throwback Gadz game. Eight points and ten rebounds in 13 minutes. No complaints there. But there were plenty of other reasons to complain.
The power forward collection still has yet to get their rebounding shoes out. Hakim Warrick continues to score with relative ease, but has yet to make good on his promise of increased focus on rebounding. Six boards in 33 minutes. Ersan Ilyasova may have been a rebounding machine in Europe, but the six he grabbed Tuesday (albeit in just 18 minutes) represent a pre-season high for him.
And while the Bucks finally shot more free throws than their opponent (29-27!) they failed to capitalize, missing 12. Overall it was a sloppy game that saw the Bucks shoot under 40% from the field, under 30% from behind the arc and under 60% from the free throw line. Wins will be hard to come by with numbers like that.
Not that it really matters though, it being pre-season and the Bucks holding out Andrew Bogut in the second game of a back to back and limiting Michael Redd to 15 minutes of work. So it’s hard to get much of a feeling on how things will progress this year after games like these. But that doesn’t mean nothing can be learned.
Exhibition basketball is a great time to learn what a team should be doing and what a team should not be doing when the regular season rolls around.
… let Brandon Jennings go through his growing pains. Jennings hasn’t shot well at all and he’s shot an awful lot through five exhibition games. Through five games (meaningless games I remind you) Jennings has shot 17/59 from the field. That’s a paltry 29%. For now, that is irrelevant though. What’s important, as Scott Skiles said after Tuesday’s loss to the Bulls, is that Jennings keeps getting in the lane and learning that is where good shots are going to come for him. And on the plus side, Jennings has been a willing passer and a nuisance in passing lanes.
…keep running. A question in an ESPN.com chat with David Thorpe and I about the Bucks had to do with their toughness level. One fan felt like the Bucks (at least everyone but Kurt Thomas) were a little soft, and while that may have been a product of exhibition, new teammates and it just being practice, he had a point. The Bucks have a lot of finesse players on this team. And how do you get the most out of finesse guys like Carlos Delfino, Hakim Warrick and Ersan Ilyasova? You run every chance you get. That doesn’t mean you forgo playing defense, it just means you try to force turnovers (something Jennings has done well) and you push the ball after missed shots.
…give up on Ersan Ilyasova. I don’t think any of us are ready to turn on Josh Hartnett’s European basketball playing doppleganger, but if you are, please give him more time. Ersan will have to readjust to the physical nature of the life of an NBA power forward, but all kinds of numbers people are saying his stats from Europe translate well. In short, if you know how to rebound on one continent, you’re likely going to know how to do it on all of them.
…start Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at the small forward. Luc is very good at playing all over the court. After his incredible defense, it’s likely that his positional flexibility is his biggest asset. That’s a good reason to bring him off the bench. He can come in and match up with whoever the Bucks need to clamp down on. But it’d be a tragedy to not trot him out there for 35 minutes a night against the other teams best players. LRMAM can and will make an immediate impact on the other teams best scoring option if he’s starting and as long as the work he did on his mid range this summer paid off, won’t hurt the Bucks offensively.
…find a rotation spot for Jodie Meeks. Meeks hit the game tying three with 29 seconds left in Tuesday’s game. Meeks has terrific form and balance in his shot and never seems to rush himself. That’s the kind of guy you want shooting shots at the end of the game. If Meeks is getting regular minutes he’ll be a great option when teams are running guys at Michael Redd like he’s Jordan in his prime (because they don’t think anyone else can beat them, not because Redd is all that good) on the Bucks last possession.
…go to Dan Gadzuric for the last shot of the game. Even on a broken play. Just hold the ball.