Quick: What do the numbers 39.4 and 41.3 mean to you?
What about 15.8?
Those are minute totals. The first two are Brandon Jennings‘ and Monta Ellis’ from the month of February. The third is Beno Udrih’s in February. And the final is J.J. Redick’s minutes per game in February.
29 minutes doesn’t slide into 15.8 very easily. Given that the players that joined Udrih on the way out of Milwaukee hadn’t played in February, it’s natural to wonder where exactly J.J. Redick’s minutes are going to come from going forward.
John Hammond says some sacrifices may have to be made.
“It’s our players’ responsibility to help him fit and it’s his responsibility to fit,” he said when meeting with the media Friday to discuss the trade deadline. “I think if guys are willing to accept the process, there’s no reason it can’t happen. It really comes down to this: Do guys want to win? If you want to win, people will make sacrifices. The sacrifices could be a few minutes a game.”
The most obvious guys to sacrifice some minutes would be Redick’s fellow guards Jennings and Ellis. But Jennings seemed just fine Friday with the minutes he was getting. He certainly gave no impression that he felt overwhelmed or too taxed.
“I’m 23-years-old so I don’t mind playing a lot of minutes, at all,” he said. “I never complain about playing time, I never complain about being tired, I just keep it going. I’m 23-years-old and Monta has played big minutes in Golden State. That’s nothing to us.”
But whether it was fatigue or something else, Jennings and Ellis have been struggling for most of February. While Jennings has played very well since the All-Star break, both he and Ellis have seen their shooting percentages and scoring drop this month.
And while his general manager was brimming with optimism Friday morning, Jennings had a realistic and interesting perspective on the addition of Redick to the Bucks. He’s aware that only so many guards can play and that prior to now, he and Ellis have been certain of crunch time minutes.
“It’s going to be very interesting just to see how the rotation is going to be now,” he said. “As far as Luc (Mbah a Moute) down the stretch, he’s one of our best defenders, he has to play to because he guards the best player down the stretch. It’s going to be very interesting what the rotation is going to be.”
This was one of the problems Milwaukee has faced this season. They weren’t a team without talent, they were a team without top level talent or defined roles. There were enough players with enough skill that anyone could play at any time. This was a bigger problem when Scott Skiles was pacing the sideline, pulling players left and right with apparently little rhyme or reason.
Jim Boylan has brought some consistency to the Bucks bench, but what will he do with a player who doesn’t seem an obvious candidate to take many of his star guards’ minutes, but may be a better fit than they realize?
“You can mix and match and do anything you want,” Boylan said Friday. “All three guys are capable of handling the ball. It will be an experimental thing. We’ll try to see what works. We can put some pressure on other teams by playing all three guys together, seeing how they match up, what they decide to do.”