In their first preaseason match-up, the Timberwolves steam-rolled the Bucks as they went 15-24 from three. Minus the awesome shooting by the Wolves, it was still a subpar defensive outing for the normally stout Bucks. JJ Barea and Derrick Williams bullied their weaker counterparts around.
Ricky Rubio made some slick passes (best six point, seven assist game ever). Mike Dunleavy and Jon Leuer were caught not paying attention on a few cuts. Even Andrew Bogut looked out of sorts. This will not stand. Or will it? Scott Skiles has a history of his team’s defensive efficiency dropping after a few years under his command. To consider that a real problem now would be reading too much into a preseason game, but it’s just something to watch for the rest of the season.
Brandon Jennings vs. Luke Ridnour
A really important thing to look at in this game is Jennings’s role in the offense. A point of emphasis at media day was getting Jennings into more catch-and-shoot situations. Good call, because he’s definitely not a good shooter off the dribble. However, how much off-ball movement does this imply? Jennings is still the team’s best distributor and a more important goal should be to get Jennings’s assist rate of 6.6 last year closer to his rookie season assist rate of eight.
With Barea and Rubio out, Luke Ridnour should get plenty of playing time in his old stomping grounds. Ridnour’s scoring ability has sort of become revered in Milwaukee, but Jennings defense and Ridnour’s lack of defense make this an easy matchup call.
Carlos Delfino vs. Wesley Johnson
Johnson had a rough rookie year that wasn’t helped by the fact that he’s a natural small forward playing shooting guard. He was put there to help with floor spacing, but sending Johnson behind the arc helps no one since he’s not a very good shooter. At best he’s a slightly below average player now who’s never going to get to play at his position with Williams and Michael Beasley. Even worse, the offensive fireworks show that the Timberwolves showed last Saturday included just about everyone, but Johnson.
As for Delfino, the latest Pro Basketball Prospectus Essential Guide came out and he was compared to Fred Hoiberg. So that’s a thing.
Mike Dunleavy vs. Michael Beasley
Speaking of the Pro Basketball Prospectus Essential Guide, Dunleavy was compared to Tim Thomas, Clifford Robinson and Danny Ferry. That’s awesome, if slightly confusing.
In the first preseason game, Dunleavy had five assists to go with a 3-6 shooting night from three. The Bucks need playmaking and shooting, so you can’t ask for much more than that. But Beasley poured in 21 points and six boards in that same game.
Drew Gooden vs. Kevin Love
Both Gooden and Love came to camp fit and trim. The difference is that Love’s statistical awesomeness doesn’t exist in a vacuum. When Love gets a double-double(all the time), it’s dynamic. He’s having an impact on the game. If Gooden were to do the same, people would wonder if any of it mattered.
Andrew Bogut vs. Darko Milicic
The Bucks will get the advantage in this individual matchup for obvious reasons, but with the caveat that the Timberwolves frontcourt gives him fits. Darko can guard Bogut. He’s got good anticipation and is a solid shot blocker. Also, having Love around hides his one(of many) great weaknesses: rebounding.
Ersan Ilyasova, Tobias Harris, Shaun Livingston, Beno Udrih, Jon Brockman Jon Leuer, Luc Mbah a Moute, Darington Hobson, Larry Sanders and Stephen Jackson
Anthony Tolliver, Bonzi Wells, Anthony Randolph, Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington and Malcolm Lee
If the Bucks were to lose, the best outcome would be a Bonzi Wells explosion so that I could use the headline “Bonzi Scheme.” That’s so clever, I might just use it anyway.
As I’m writing this, the playing time for Jackson, Sanders and Harris is up in the air due to back/dehydration issues. But there should be heavy doses of the rest of these benches. Of particular interest to Wisconsinites will be Leuer who had a decent offensive showing mitigated by Williams abusing him on the other end.
Winner: MACC Fund
It’s the holidays. This game is for charity. Don’t be a jerk. Help out some sick kids and enjoy some basketball while you’re at it.
Ian Segovia is a contributor to Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter, fan us up on Facebook.