The pre-season starts tonight and fittingly, the Bulls are in town. No, Carlos Boozer won’t be playing and no the game doesn’t mean anything, but it should be fun to get a taste of basketball again. And don’t think things can’t get interesting in these exhibitions. Remember Carlos Delfino last season?
Of course, too much should not be read into these games. I’m going to be looking for some specific things before the regular season kicks off.
How do the new guys look?
I’ll be very interested to see how Drew Gooden and Chris Douglas-Roberts are looking in the Bucks offense. Will Milwaukee be looking for Gooden often as an offensive option? Last season, Hakim Warrick looked like a star in the pre-season, only to see his minutes and effectiveness dwindle throughout the season before his eventual trade. If Gooden comes out scoring 25 points, I’ll be pleased, but I’m more curious to see how the Bucks might be using him. Milwaukee didn’t feature power forwards in their offense very often last season; they mainly scored on a collection of garbage baskets or threes in Ersan Ilyasova’s case. Will Gooden get opportunities to face up or back players down? And how will that mesh with Andrew Bogut’s game?
CD-R should be interesting. He’ll likely be given a lot of leeway with regard to creating off the wing so long as he’s not playing with Corey Maggette (and since Maggette reportedly won’t be playing in the pre-season, that means all throughout the exhibitions. I’m anxious to see how much success CD-R has in this role and whether or not he’ll be able to make plays the way John Salmons did last year. Salmons was obviously an impressive scorer, but he did a better than it seemed like job of laying off passes after penetrating lanes. I’d love to see that out of CD-R.
*clap clap clapclapclap*
The Bucks energetic rookie should provide more than a few highlights in pre-season.
Whether or not he’ll show enough of a grasp of what the team wants him to do is another story. It’s never easy for rookies in the NBA and the Bucks will be asking Sanders to do a lot on defense. He seems like a quick, and more importantly, eager learner. He has the athletic ability to really do some special things on the court, even if it is only 10 minutes at a time. If Sanders proves he’s ready for some minutes through the pre-season, I have no doubts Coach Scott Skiles will give them to him.
Has Jennings found a solution at the rim?
Last pre-season, Brandon Jennings chucked threes with reckless abandon, usually landing them everywhere but the bottom of the net. Then he went out and shot better than 37% from long range on the season. That alone makes me hesitate to read too much into his shooting in pre-season. I’d love though, to see him show some strong moves at the rim that result in a lot more finishing than he showed last season. If Jennings turns into a 40% shooter this season, it’ll be because he’s moved from the very worst among starting point guards at finishing at the rim, to somewhere closer to the middle of the pack. I don’t expect Jennings to turn into Steve Nash when it comes to his at the rim shooting percentage, but I think Stephen Curry is a reasonable expectation.
Also, sweet looking passes. I’m looking for sweet looking passes from Jennings. I know with this much talent around him they are coming, just wait and see.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com