Zach Lowe over at Grantland had a fantastic article detailing innovations in NBA tactics. The Milwaukee Bucks are forging ahead in their own innovation. Traditionally, a frontcourt is filled with guys with great strength and big behinds. John Henson, Larry Sanders, and Ekpe Udoh sacrifice those traits for greater length and speed.
Moving to faster, longer post players makes a ton of sense. Strength isn’t as valuable in an NBA that has less traditional post threats than ever. The best center in the league is better in the pick and roll than the low block. The rules also make it harder to score from the post than ever before. When illegal defense was wiped from the rule book in its entirety, double-teaming a post player became a less risky proposition. It makes sense now to stockpile guys who are quick and long enough to handle the pick and roll and recover quickly off double teams
There’s still something about post players with big butts though. I cannot lie. The Memphis Grizzlies frontline is the traditional ideal. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are a perfect combination of very skilled, very strong, and very physical. They claim the 10 feet near the basket as their property and the Bucks are going to have to fight hell and high water to take any of it.
The Grizzlies are very aggressive on the offensive boards. They were third in the league in offensive rebounding rate (29.84). They were behind the Utah Jazz (30.22) and the Chicago Bulls (32.63) – stellar frontcourts both. The Bucks were ranked near the bottom in defensive rebounding rate last year (70.92). The Bucks held Chicago to a 26.32 offensive rebounding rate on Tuesday. They’ve started off on the right foot. Let’s see if they can carry the rebounding momentum forward.
Choose the Form of the Destroyer
I have a thing for great defenders that can’t hit a shot. My three favorite players in the league in order: 1) Rajon Rondo 2) Tony Allen 3) Ekpe Udoh. We’ve covered Udoh extensively. I’ll get to Rondo when the time comes. Let’s talk Tony Allen.
Here’s a great snippet on Allen playing against his brother Ryan (former UWM Panther!) from Scott Powers of ESPNChicago:
When Tony spoke to Ryan on the floor during the game, it was the first time they talked in a few days. Tony said prior to the game he was treating Ryan like a regular NBA foe and hadn’t talked to him even though Tony got into Chicago the day before.
“I treat him like a rival,” Tony said. “I don’t want to talk to him before no game. I’m not in talking to anyone before a game, not even my brother.”
What an amazingly intense individual.
The Grizzlies were the best team at forcing turnovers last year and Allen was the ringleader. The Bucks was the fourth best team at taking care of the ball last year, but haven’t looked good in the turnover department early in the preseason.
Another thing of note: I have a Tony Allen shirt that says “All Heart, Grit, Grind.”
Matchup of the Game
Keep doing you Drew. Keep doing you.
Ekpe Udoh All Star Watch
Udoh is probable! The only thing to explain his extraordinary healing time is that he’s Wolverine. The studios should reboot X-Men with Udoh playing all the roles.
Prediction: Bucks 38 Grizzlies 46 (rebounds, not points)