This isn’t rocket science. Teams in the NBA that have talent win more than they lose. Teams that aren’t all that talented lose more than they win.
The five Bucks that played the most minutes against the Knicks Wednesday night? Andrew Bogut, John Salmons, Carlos Delfino, Brandon Jennings and Keyon Dooling. Not a one of them has participated in an All-Star game since arriving in the NBA.
The five Knicks that played the most minutes against the Bucks Wednesday night? Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chauncey Billups and Toney Douglas. 15 combined All-Star appearances.
So, even though the Bucks shot better than they have recently and kept fighting until the end, they lost to a more talented team. That’s often how games play out in the NBA. The more talented team usually wins. I know this isn’t breaking news, but it’s important to know.
Because, suddenly, things are looking very bad for the Bucks.
Stoudemire, ‘Melo, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams have all moved East within the past eight months, while none of the East’s best players have headed West. Suddenly, the scales appear to have tipped in favor of the East in the battle for conference supremacy. Miami, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Atlanta and New York all look to be set for at least one more year as playoff locks. New Jersey, if they can convince Williams to stay and add a few pieces around him, isn’t far behind and if Orlando can lock up Dwight Howard, we’re looking at a bunch of teams that have three or four years of solid play to look forward to.
That’s seven teams with at least one established All-Star leading the way. Meanwhile, the Bucks are attempting to build around a one time third team All-NBA center that’s lost his way after a gruesome injury and a second-year guard who held out his hands in disbelief after not getting foul calls more often than he made shots in Wednesday’s loss. Milwaukee can’t compete on the free agent market with any of those teams, they don’t have the allure, they don’t have the talent. Right now, it looks difficult for the Bucks to do much more than compete for a seventh or eighth seed for the foreseeable future in the East. That’s a terrifying thought.
Unless Bogut is rejuvenated next season and Jennings develops more than most expect, the Bucks have essentially turned back the clock to 2004, just with a new cast of characters. Expect yet another extended run of mediocrity if drastic steps aren’t taken in the next year or two. But really, expect mediocrity even if drastic steps are taken. We’re talking about a franchise that has only once gotten out of the first round of the playoffs since 1990.
TWO PLAYOFF SERIES WINS IN 21 YEARS!
And how was that one team that won both those series built? Through the draft of course. Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson, top five picks, were the stars. Sam Cassell was acquired because the Bucks had acquired assets with a young, talented Vin Baker. Around them, veterans with microscopic contracts were brought on and trades were made for players who didn’t have big money deals. Having young talented players is a good thing. To get players like that, a team must go through a few years of struggles. Had the Bucks not have been so bad during the Dunleavy Era, there never would have been that delightful 2000-2001 season.
As it stands right now, Milwaukee is four and a half games out of the final playoff spot this season and five games from having the sixth worst record in the NBA. A dramatic rise or fall would have its benefits, but the worst place in the world the Bucks can be is where they are at right now. Just out of the playoffs.
That means no extra revenue and a bad draft pick.
That means another typical year of Bucks basketball.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).