In a way, the distribution of minutes in NBA exhibition basketball is like feeding a ton of kids. Scott Skiles takes the role of both parents (because he’s that good at being the dad) and every night he has to distribute food to all his kids. His kids are fairly young though, so he’s got to make sure they’re all eating right and getting enough. So he goes in the cupboard and pulls out 12 or so bowls depending on how many children show up that night.
(Over the years the family has become dysfunctional. Some of the kids have left for greener pastures and some of the kids are old enough that they don’t really need to be fed by their parents anymore. Problem is, those kids haven’t acheived enough to take on surrogate parent roles. Those kids are really that kid, and his name is Dan Gadzuric. Gadz hasn’t played in either of the last two exhibitions, I presume because we all know what we’re getting from Dan and there is no point in using his seemingly never ceasing motor in pre-season as he gets on in years. Gadz can save his 10-15 productive, shot blocking minutes for the regular season and we can see what some of the other guys can do. Now, back to my metaphor.)
So, Skiles pulls out his 12 bowls and he’s got to make sure they are roughly the same size. The exhibition season for a team like the Bucks is all about making sure everyone is fed at roughly the same rate. That way, when the regular season starts it’ll be clear who needs to get fed a little more, who has the right amount and who’s leaving food in the bowl. Those guys leaving food in the bowl can afford to lose some of their food to the hungry guys when the regular season starts. As soon as the last week of October and the first week of November hit, it’ll ideally should be clear which eight or nine guys need the big bowls for all the food.
But could this Bucks team be a team that can just keep things rolling with 12 bowls?
The Bucks have made quite an effort to acquire depth for competition purposes and in case of injuries presumably. The old standby in the NBA is that teams perform better when eight to nine guys know their roles and don’t have to worry about losing minutes for screwing up. But when a team like the Bucks has 12 to even 15 fairly evenly matched and decent, but not great players, couldn’t it be to their advantage to go a little deeper down the line? Match that playing time philosophy with the up-tempo game the Bucks have been insisting they’d like to get in and wouldn’t that be a clear advantage for them?
It wasn’t all that long ago that Hubie Brown had the ten deep Memphis Grizzlies winning 50 games and making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. That team was built primarily of younger players willing to sacrifice and play defense for a coach whose philosophies were not unlike Scott Skiles. Like these current Bucks they were without a mega-star; a young Pau Gasol being the closest thing they had to that. Ten players averaged over 20 minutes a night, with Gasol topping the list at 31.5. Memphis was different in that they had a fairly potent three point shooting team, but they weren’t as good of a rebounding team as this Bucks team is projected to be. At the very least the 2003-04 Memphis team was an affirmation that it is possible to go deep into the bench and have success. Something the Bucks of 2009-10 should highly consider.
As for the Bucks fourth pre-season game? All things considered it went pretty well.
Brandon Jennings Struggles
Jennings has been consistently erratic thus far in his first training camp, but who didn’t see that coming? He had his worst game of the pre-season against the Rockets, shooting 1-8 from the field and lodged only one assist for his efforts. Surely this is not the kind of effort the Bucks were hoping for after naming him a starter for the next game against the Bulls. Skiles mentioned that a big challenge at this stage in Jennings development is playing at a high level for “14 or 15 consecutive minutes.” That’s to be expected of a rookie like Jennings though. It will be very interesting to see how he handles things Tuesday in Chicago.
In my freshman basketball campaign we had a coach that once played at Milwaukee King and then followed that with a crappy uneventful college career at Ohio. He came from good basketball and had seen a lot played. That’s why it troubled him so much that we … sucked. His biggest complaint? All the fouls. We probably fouled more than any team he had ever played on or against for that matter. He was almost baffled when we’d get back to the locker room at halftime and his consistent coaching advice would be “ya’ll need to stooop foulin’!” Our constant inability to match the correct place and the correct timing surely drove him to give up the position after a mere season for the greener pastures of varsity assistant.
Unfortunately for Scott Skiles, there is not greener pasture. He’s just going to have to figure out a way to get through to his group of guys that they won’t win many games by allowing the other team to shoot 44 free throws on 74 shots. Alas, it was not all bad news for the Bucks in this win. After all, it WAS a win.
Carlos Delfino for Delthreeo
I’m still working on that. Delfino has shown serious life in the Bucks last two games. A tidy 16 points and eight rebounds to go with four steals and 4/10 shooting from behind the arc showed what Delfino was capable of tonight. Delfino may be able to flourish contribute nicely if the Bucks do decide to commit to running the ball this year. If he’s as good a shooter as John Hammond and Delfino himself think he is and not as previous NBA stats say he could be just what the doctor ordered from a wing spot. Unfortunately he won’t be doing it for more than 81 games.
In general the Bucks did struggle from behind the arc — aside from a hot 7-9 stretch in the second quarter they shot a mere 4-21 for the game — but they were able to bother the Rockets into 37.8% shooting. Michael Redd had his best game of training camp, going 7-10 and even handed out four assists. More importantly he was able to play 21 minutes as Andrew Bogut played two separate successful nine minute stretches with no reports of any trouble.
Signs of a three point shooter? Stars playing well (enough) and staying healthy? The win is just a bonus after those two bright spots as all is certainly well in Milwaukee on a cold Monday night.