The first block in particular is one no Bucks player outside of Andrew Bogut could have made.
60% of the time, Andrew Bogut is on the court for the Milwaukee Bucks at center. In a related matter, the Bucks have had problems at the center position 40% of the time in this young season. Milwaukee’s backup center problems were on display against the Lakers, albeit in a subtle way.
Did anyone notice that the Bucks didn’t even use their backup center? With good reason of course. He’s not really fit to go against a talented team like the Lakers. But he’s getting the majority of the Bucks backup center minutes against every other team. The guy who isn’t all that talented and can’t hang with the league’s best team, is the one getting minutes. Does that seem a little backwards?
To this date, the majority of the backup center minutes have fallen to Jon Brockman, the scrappy, bearded, charge-taking, lumberjack looking fella on the end of the Bucks bench. While he may not have the size of an ideal backup center at 6-foot-7, he’s done some positive things while he’s been on the court. He currently leads the Bucks with eight charges taken and he’s made five of the six shots he’s taken at the rim. More or less, he’s a safe play. In a way, he’s a ham sandwich. It’s a basic lunch, nothing fancy or worth getting excited over, but simple and, occasionally exactly what you want. Of course, if you’re having a ham sandwich for lunch every day, you’re lunch menu kind of sucks.
And there are certainly times Brockman kind of sucks. Not because he is awful, but rather because he’s simply very physically limited in what he can do. He can’t block shots (he has zero this season) and he currently leads the NBA in turnover rate (possessions ending in a turnover) at a whopping 30.36% of his possessions. That’s worse than Timofey Mosgov! Now, there’s a case to be made for charges being more valuable than blocked shots. After all, a team is certain to gain possession after a charge, but often blocks lead to the opposing team regaining possession. For this Bucks team though, blocked shots could be much more valuable than charges taken.
For a second, think about Milwaukee’s offensive issues. Is anyone confident in the Bucks turning extra possessions gained from charges into points? If you are, you shouldn’t have been. I did the math. Milwaukee has scored four points on the eight possessions they’ve earned off Brockman charges. That’s not necessarily Brockman’s fault, but his limited offense isn’t doing much to help them after he gets them the ball. On the other hand, occasionally, blocked shots can lead to easy hoops against defenses that aren’t set.
Like a Larry Sanders block did against the Lakers.
In limited minutes, Sanders has blocked four shots this year. Milwaukee has scored four points off of the three change in possessions those blocks led to (one went out of bounds). Now not all of them came off easy transition hoops, Sanders block that led to an easy Earl Boykins jump shot against the Lakers was the only case so far of that happening, but there really might be something to Sanders being on the court. Defensively, he obviously has the speed, length and athletic ability to impact games as a shot-blocker (3.8 per 36 minutes SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT) and ball hawk (1.9 steals per 36 minutes SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT), but he could have some sort of impact offensively for Milwaukee this season too.
While Brockman is limited on where he can operate on the court and how effectively he can do it, there are literally no limitations on what Sanders is capable of. We all saw him hitting jumpers in summer league and even saw him hit a couple 3-pointers. Sure, that probably isn’t an effective first option offensively for Milwaukee, but the mere possibility that Sanders can catch and shoot when he’s open on the court means something. Speaking to the Journal-Sentinel, Scott Skiles hinted at giving Sanders a more consistent look in the near future, partly because of his strong performance against the Lakers. Since he was drafted, Milwaukee’s organization have been firm that nothing will be handed to Sanders, if he’s getting any minutes, it’s because he’s earning them.
Opening the season with Brockman as the backup center was the right call in this regard. Sanders has had to keep himself ready to play and fight for the right to get some minutes, this should make him a better player in the long run. If Brockman is a ham sandwich, Sanders is kind of like a grilled cheese with ham. It takes a little longer to make, and you probably won’t want to take that time every day, but when it’s done right, it’s a helluva sandwich. Don’t expect Sanders to be the same player every time he gets an opportunity. He’ll make mistakes, he’ll have bad games and sometimes he’ll cause you to swear at your television. But when Sanders is on, he’ll be more effective than Jon Brockman and give the Bucks a dimension they don’t have right now.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook (to the right).