Yesterday I began ranking the Milwaukee Bucks current roster in order of power. Not literal power, but some sort of figurative power that isn’t very clearly defined. Head back and read yesterday’s thrilling part one and then enjoy today’s equally mesmerizing part two.
9. Zaza Pachulia
Zaza has already been a hit in Milwaukee as far as I’m concerned. Look at these photos he’s tweeted:
I never even knew about Zaza’s Steak and Lemonade on 4th and Center. He’s opening up whole new world’s within my own city. And how about that adorable picture of him and his son? Kid’s got Toy Story gloves on, so you know he has the same interest in fashion that his father has.
Seriously though, if we just look past a contract that may be slightly overpaying him when you only factor in on court production, I’m sure there will be a point where we’re all very excited about Zaza this season. A game will be getting chippy and Zaza will be right in the center of it all. He’ll be deflecting some of the heat off Larry Sanders and then counseling Milwaukee’s young building block after the game on how to annoy without getting tossed and when to back off of the refs.
Pachulia has been a perpetual shit-stirrer as long as he’s been in the league, but he’s only been ejected from a game twice. He knows the line. Hopefully he can show it to Sanders.
8. Luke Ridnour
There were rumors last week that the Bucks were showing interest in Royal Ivey, which reminds me what a great influence Luke Ridnour can be.
No, I don’t suspect he’s pushing the Bucks to pick up a no longer very useful Ivey. But I do remember when the Bucks got back Ivey at the 2010 trade deadline. Ridnour had a habit of heading back onto the court after games to get up more shots and work out, which I thought was just about the coolest, hard workingest thing I had ever seen when he was doing it. After a few games in Milwaukee, eventually Ivey started taking to the court with him, which is as clear an illustration of a player being a positive influence as I’ve ever seen.
That’s the kind of thing Ridnour offers. That and a fantastically tough right hand if anyone thinks they have an easy breakaway layup when he’s around. Ridnour is such a good hard fouler for a small point guard. All these years I watched Brandon Jennings bump into a guy on a break, giving him a free throw to go along with a made layup. I never had to worry about the made layup when Ridnour was around, I just waited for the outcome of the two free throws.
Having Ridnour back will be okay. If he shoots as well as he did for the Bucks in 2009-10, it’ll be more than okay, but given his performance the past couple seasons, I’m skeptical. Perhaps a return to exclusive point guard duties will help him – he spent A LOT of time at the two in Minnesota – but that one last year in Milwaukee looks an awful lot like the exception to the rule of his career.
7. Carlos Delfino
I long thought Delfino was overrated and bemoaned his propensity for bringing the ball up the court rather than finding a point guard. But I missed him some last season. He could be counted on for a very good month and a productive 3-point shot all year in the seasons in which he didn’t have life altering concussions. It’s always fun to say DEL-3-NO too. And I’m looking forward to hearing about his sneaky athleticism when he blocks a shot or dunks the ball at some point, so long as he can still do those things after another year of wear and a foot injury.
Ultimately, he’s a productive stop-gap type of player. Ideally he wouldn’t be relied upon as a starter or a moderately featured part of an offense, but the Bucks could again force him into a less than ideal role this season. Getting Butler should help shield him against too many minutes and too much spotlight though, which could end up being very positive for Delfino’s second go-round with the Bucks.
I do love what Delfino represents. He’s a pretty good 3-point shooter. The Bucks really focused on getting guys who shot threes well this off-season and hopefully that’ll be apart of Milwaukee’s modus operandi going forward.
6. Caron Butler
Even a cold-hearted skeptic like me can appreciate Butler’s return. I don’t suspect he’ll make a huge impact, but I think his time in Milwaukee will be more memorable than previous homecomers like Joe Wolf, Tony Smith and Reece Gaines.
THE BAR IS NOT HIGH.
With Delfino likely out the first part of the season, Butler should start from day one with the Bucks. I don’t see why he can’t score 13-15 ppg and grab a few rebounds while he’s out there too. Sanders has pretty much been penciled in as the team’s star, but I see Butler taking on a role that sort of combines the recent Mike Dunleavy/Kurt Thomas roles. He’ll be the guy the reporters flock to the in locker room for wise ponderances on the night’s events and how it will affect future games, but he’ll also be a productive player.
He’ll likely be a happy face all season and a big part of the community. I suspect after Sanders and Henson, Butler will be the Buck you most hear from in 2013-14. Plus he adds some more of that toughness that Pachuila brings. The Bucks will quietly be a team other teams would be wise not to try and intimidate.
Also, one more time, look at how happy this guy is!:
5. Ersan Ilyasova
I don’t know why I have so much trouble getting on board with Ilyasova. Consistency has been my beef with him, but when he got minutes last season he pretty much produced every night. At the end of the season, his number looked a lot like the numbers from the season before, the season that earned him what most feel was a very fair contract extension.
Ersan has hit threes at a fantastic clip over the past two seasons, better than 44% of the time. Look at last season’s shot chart:
Yet I’m still not sold. So much of what he does relies on someone else setting it up for him. He fell back a bit last season as a rebounder too. I just don’t ever see Ilyasova being a featured part of a really good Bucks team, despite the skills that he brings. He has a lot of value, but it would be best served on a much better team than Milwaukee. I’d much rather watch John Henson and Larry Sanders attempt to develop into contributors on offense that can create for themselves out of the post rather than watch people hit Ilyasova for one open three every night.
In this scenario, I am everything that I hate. I’m hypnotized by the athleticism of those two young Milwauke bigs and overlooking the efficiency that Ilyasova already brings to the table. I’m like a scout in Moneyball.
But I don’t care. I don’t care at all.
4. Brandon Knight
Before last season, I insisted to two VERY PROMINENT Bucks blogger types that I would much rather have Brandon Knight than Brandon Jennings on the Bucks. So when the Bucks traded for Knight I was … pretty indifferent.
I guess that’s the penalty I assigned to Knight after a mediocre second season. But he’s still just 21-years-old and he has a physique that theoretically should allow him to be a better player than Jennings. He should be able to finish at the rim and battle through screens without getting lost. So much should rests with Knight from where I stand.
But I haven’t seen him be very creative as a passer, which worries me. I like point guards that are willing to take chances and can see things that the rest of us aren’t seeing. I’m not sure Knight is that guy. Maybe he’ll be a very good defender and 3-point shooter who can occasionally be responsibility for a win, but his ceiling certainly seems a lot lower than it did a year ago. He just doesn’t seem like a guy bursting with talent that only needs to be honed.
All that said, there’s a lot more mystery than fact when it comes to Knight, which is always fun. We don’t know how he’ll develop, we only know that he’ll develop somehow over the next couple seasons. That alone still makes him a more intriguing starting point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks than Jennings.
Tomorrow: THE GRIPPING CONCLUSION!