After all the time invested and games watched, the season seems to end so quickly. I thought about delving into what went wrong in Game 7, but for the most part, if you’re reading this you know what went wrong. When the Bucks struggled this season, the same things always went wrong. It feels so strange to just pick up and move on now after a seven game series, but I feel like that’s really the most sensible thing to do. I’d rather celebrate a season that was great, than dwell on a game that was lost.
And now I get to do something I’ve actually been looking forward to for a while.
Last April I was taking a creative writing class. It was the first one I’d taken and I got into it. One of the areas we focused on was poetry, something I wasn’t very familiar with. A style I particularly enjoyed, was the Haiku. Haikus are short, three line poems that alternate five, seven and five syllables in each line. Typically, I believe they center around nature and have roots in Japan. But when I was practicing them, I couldn’t help but write them about Bucks players. Last season I did my 2009 Bucks end of the year review in Haiku form and enjoyed it so much that I’m bringing it back this year.
We start with centers (ranked from worst to best).
[table id=16 /]
He was here, now he
is gone. Few ever noticed
Elson at one time last season was getting minutes over Dan Gadzuric and played with competence. With the arrival of Kurt Thomas, Hakim Warrick and Ersan Ilyasova, there wasn’t really any space available for Elson on the court. He still had a few games in which he was active over Gadzuric, but when he did see time in garbage minutes, he was fairly bad. He offered little upside when he was signed and it remains a mystery how he ever scored a two year deal from the Bucks in the first place. Elson did serve a purpose ultimately this season though: salary cap fodder in a deal to obtain Royal Ivey and a second round pick from Philadelphia. If the pick is better than Jodie Meeks and Ivey sticks around another year and plays a few productive minutes, Elson will have had value as a Bucks asset. As is, he had a pretty blah period of association with the Bucks.
From contact he shies.
On shots he constantly fades.
While running, he falls.
I have no recollection of ever seeing the same player trip over his own feet on the basketball court twice in the same season. At least I should say, I HAD no recollection of this before witnessing Primoz tackle that feat this season. Brezec thrilled the crowd with a few jumpers from distance this year and when I’d watch him warm-up before games, I’d see him regularly drill some pretty deep shots. But Brezec is too slow to do any of this in meaningful minutes. His reluctance to post up Mike Bibby in Game 7 (it goes a long way to speak towards the impact of Bogut’s absence when I write about Brezec playing in a Game 7 for Milwaukee) is more indicative of what he brings to the court. Brezec doesn’t like to bang and is too slow to defend virtually every player in the league. John Hollinger seems to believe Brezec is the league’s worst player, so at least he has that acclaim working for him.
As checks keep coming,
Spirits fall as he stumbles.
They cry, “one more year!”
A last resort’s last resort, it seemed like it pained Scott Skiles to give Dan Gadzuric any burn most of the year. This season represented a new low for Gadzuric in terms of games, minutes, fan support and nearly everything else. As soon as the horn sounded on the Bucks season Sunday afternoon, Gadz became Dan Gadzuric’s Expiring Contract. He did have a few spurts of energy and effectiveness in the playoffs, but a lasting memory was surely made when he launched mid-range jumpers on consecutive possessions in the Bucks gruesome Game 6. The calls for his playing time in the playoffs speak a lot more to Bogut’s injury and the play of Brezec and sometimes Thomas than Gadz’s diminished skills.
Travels place to place,
Moving on screens, prodding foes,
Brings his bag of tricks.
Despite initially being thought of by many fans as a salary cap throw in who was on his way out of town upon entry, the wily veteran Thomas completed his 15th NBA season with his seventh team in the Bucks. He seemed to keep spirits up in the locker room with his old timer sense of humor and willingness to be the butt of the joke, while filling in admirably on the court after Bogut went down for the season. His free throw line extended jump shot was typically money and he fit in nicely with the Bucks defensive mindset. Can he do it for another season playing as many minutes as he did with the Bucks? He’d probably be an okay bet at veteran’s minimum. It may behoove Thomas to weigh his options and stay in shape until later in the season the way Jerry Stackhouse did, though it’d be more by choice if Thomas did it.
I would have loved to see the Bogut/Thomas defensive front court and how they measured up in the playoffs against some of the bigger foes in the East.
Australian tough guy.
Future starts with him.
They go as far as Andrew goes. The Bucks are sitting pretty, so long as Bogut remains healthy. What’s comforting is his elbow injury was a stroke of bad luck and just a break, rather than something that could linger into next season. Bogut’s back was a great concern this year, but he got through the majority of the season with no significant problems. When he was healthy, Bogut finally blossomed into everything the Bucks hoped he’d be when they took him number one overall in 2005 and more. Always a gifted passer with a nice touch, Bogut has turned into one of the league’s best defenders and now possesses a post game few in the league can match.
The next step would be the development of a 15-foot jumper, but that’s not essential to Milwaukee’s success. Inside 10-feet, Bogut averaged over six shots a night and connected on just 43.7% of them. If Bogut can get that up into the high 40’s or low 50’s as far as percentage goes next season, he’ll be looking at 17-18 points a night and an All-Star bid for certain.
Bogut is this team’s centerpiece and it was clear how much they missed him once the competition got going in the playoffs. When the offense broke down, Bogut was always there, either tipping a rebound around or catching inside for a good look. He and Brandon Jennings had terrific chemistry right out of the gate and he looked like a genius once the nation caught on to Squad Six. Teams could do a lot worse than Andrew Bogut as their most important piece going forward.