2010 Haiku Review: Guards

After a few days off to recharge my battery, I’m back with the final segment of the Haiku Reviews. Coming in the next week will be more on potential free agent targets and a draft page. Stay tuned this week.

[table id=18 /]

Jodie Meeks

Shots caromed off rim
Motor never stopped running
It paid off later.

Meeks struggled mightily when given opportunities in Milwaukee, but flashed the shooting touch so many saw at Kentucky when given a more significant opportunity in Philadelphia. In baseball, people often discuss how difficult for young players to fill a utility role where they’re asked to pinch hit frequently. They simply don’t get enough reps to be successful. Well, that may have been the case for Meeks. He shot under 30% on threes for the Bucks this season, but hit nearly 40% for Philadelphia and was at 50% in his final month when his playing time ticked up. Meeks may have benefitted the Bucks more by not playing this season or getting time in the D-League. Perhaps they wouldn’t have given up on him so soon if they saw him progressing with more regular time. Milwaukee received a second round pick for Meeks, so they essential have an opportunity to start over next season and hope they’ll get a better fit.

Royal Ivey

Accepting limits
Can prolong players’ careers.
Meet Royal Ivey

Ivey is a prototypical third point guard. When he enters the game, he defends hard and doesn’t force anything. I challenge anyone to provide proof that Ivey has ever complained about his role on a team. He understands why he’s around and how he’ll be used. That’s what teams are looking for at the end of their bench. That’s why Ivey has stuck around as long as he has. Soon he’ll be that good veteran that provides good influence on younger players and that will add a few more years onto his career.

Charlie Bell

Knocked early and often. He
never answered door.

Bell didn’t have a very productive year before earning his way off the active list for the Bucks final game this season. Bell averaged over 30 minutes per game in November and turned in one manageable performance after the next. His strengths were clear: spot-up shooting and hustle. His weaknesses were too: attacking the basket and guarding larger guards. Unfortunately for Bell, his weaknesses were on display more frequently than his strengths. Milwaukee badly needed a larger two guard and anyone who could attack the basket. After John Salmons and Jerry Stackhouse arrived to answer those needs, Bell’s minutes were no longer available. Bell has always come off as a good guy, but that armor was dented when he commented about his last game suspension, “I wasn’t going to play anyway.” That’s not the sort of attitude that typically meshes well with hard head coach Scott Skiles. Bell has two years left on his contract and may be difficult to move this off-season. His situation bears watching.

Luke Ridnour

Surprise everyone!
Suddenly a shooting star
With scrap to spare too.

Ridnour had never shot better than 43% from the field before this season and never better than 35% of his threes. So naturally he spent a majority of the season flirting with the hallowed 50/40/90 mark, finally finishing at 47.8 and 38.1 respectively. What happened for Ridnour at age 28? It’s tough to say. Playing off the ball may have helped and fewer minutes could have been beneficial too. Whatever the case may be, Ridnour has himself positioned nicely as a top back up point guard heading into free agency this off-season. He’ll surely need to take a pay cut from the $6 million he made this past season, but probably not as substantial a cut as he was looking at two years ago. Milwaukee will likely look to find a way to bring him back at a discounted rate next season as a nice compliment to Brandon Jennings.

Jerry Stackhouse

Like his teammates did,
Turnovers followed him around.
He’s still a leader.

Stackhouse’s contributions were probably felt a little more in the huddle and the locker room than they were on the court. He was a moderately productive player, struggling with his shooting often and often turning the ball over. He was a steadying influence though and Coach Skiles often talked about how Stackhouse was not afraid to get on teammates who were trying to do too much or not moving the ball enough. Stackhouse could have got to the line a little more and shot a better percentage, but he did his job for the most part. He’d probably be better off in an even more limited role next season, especially if he’s looking to play the whole season.

Michael Redd

Another tough fall
More long rehab lies ahead
Career lies behind.

Let’s be honest: Michael Redd wasn’t good this past season. You’ll hear lots of people defending his efforts, saying he didn’t have a chance to fit in and he was rounding into form and all of that, but the numbers don’t lie.  Redd shot a miserable 35% from the field, 30% from three and 71% from the line. He rarely appeared to fit in and the games in which he did play well, the Bucks typically lost. His athleticism was clearly sapped and he was never able to get in shape. The knee injury of two years ago was taking its toll on Redd all season and this next one will likely take even longer to rebound from. Realistically, Redd won’t be able to produce with any consistency next season. If Milwaukee does trot him out there, they’re probably doing him and the team a disservice.

And that sucks, because Redd has been the model employee for the Bucks. He works hard, he never gets in to trouble and he’s been a positive member of the community. Off the court, Redd is everything a franchise wants. On the court? Milwaukee is much better off without him. If Redd doesn’t play next season, insurance covers the majority of his contract and he becomes a much more attractive trade commodity. If the Bucks are willing to take on a player with two or three years left on his deal, Redd could become an attractive salary dump for a team looking to start over, insured deal or not.

John Salmons

Trade deadline godsend.
Played his way to a bigger deal,
Could be overpaid.

Salmons was everything the Bucks had lacked earlier in the season and more. He attacked the hoop. He defended bigger guards with vigor. He kicked out on his drives. He hit three point shots and he was consistent. The consistency Salmons brought to the table was key. The Bucks went through so many offensive slumps this season, having one player who could get to the free throw line and break slumps did wonders for their offense. Sure, suddenly Salmons lost his will to attack the hoop in the last few games of the playoffs and his three point shot abandoned him, but he still gave Milwaukee 34 solid games.

Does that make him worth an addition four years of salary though? The Journal-Sentinel has reported that Milwaukee has been in discussions about locking Salmons up for a total of four more seasons worth $27 million, which will mean Salmons will be a Bucks player earning around $7 million when he’s 34 years old. Michael Redd has had injuries that have aged him some, but remember, he’s only 30. Is it wise for the Bucks to lock up a guy like Salmons, who likely won’t be getting much better, for that much money through that age? It’s a tough call.

Brandon Jennings

First scoring always,
Prolonged slumps soon followed. His
Flash breathed life.

From the moment Jennings hopped out from backstage on draft night, he’s been a little different. Milwaukee has not had such a character in many many years and he did his part to perform CPR on a franchise that’s been struggling when he dropped in 55 points in the Bradley Center in just his 7th game. Defensively, Jennings got better all year long and offensively he was dynamic in the playoffs. Jennings has to improve his mid-range game in the off-season, but he left Milwaukee feeling like all he wants to do every day is get a little better. I’ve never been so excited about seeing a player come back after his rookie season so I can see how much he’s improved. But that’s how Jennings has most of Milwaukee feeling. His confidence and will to win is something Milwaukee appears ready to hang their hat on for the next five years and hopefully much longer.

Categories: The Off Season

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  1. Milwaukee_Buck

    I really hope that your right about Ridnour.

    I’m leaning towards the Bucks keeping Redd, especially if they keep Salmons. Part of me thinks they should keep him until his contract expires (allow him to sit out all season to rehab) and try to re-sign him for a much discounted rate to fill in back-up for Salmons which would allow him to possibly get his rhythm back and give a huge scoring punch of the bench. The only way he’s worth much as a trade asset is if a team is willing to give up multiple young prospects or draft picks (to match salaries) which is exactly what a rebuilding team will be looking for with his expiring contract anyways.

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