Nine in a row: Pistons 113 – Bucks 94

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Milwaukee Bucks 94 Final
Recap | Box Score
113 Detroit Pistons
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -16

When the Pistons weren’t scoring in transition in the first quarter, they were getting three-pointers from Brandon Jennings and turnarounds from Greg Monroe over Ilyasova. Other than that, Ersan’s impact on this game was negligible.

Khris Middleton, PF 21 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -10

Middleton started in place of Caron Butler. While he provided a bit more energy and defense, he wasn’t a difference maker in any real way.

Zaza Pachulia, C 17 MIN | 2-3 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -9

He had to jump center for the opening tip against Andre Drummond. He had to play center against Andre Drummond. He wasn’t suited for either. Among Bucks bigs, Pachulia has the worst opponent field goal percentage within five feet of the rim: 56.0% (data from Tonight’s performance won’t help that bad number get any better.

Brandon Knight, PG 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 4-6 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 8 PTS | -12

If there’s one thing that sank the Bucks, it was that Knight really wasn’t attuned to the rest of his offense. Each of the Pistons’ starters had a first-quarter steal and Knight’s four first-quarter turnovers helped Detroit jump to a 38-18 lead. He flunked this test, but it’s early in the semester still. The one bright spot: dribble penetration that led to a few free throws.

O.J. Mayo, SG 25 MIN | 1-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 5 PTS | -20

O.J. Mayo played 25 minutes in this game? I demand a recount.

John Henson, PF 22 MIN | 7-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -13

At this point, one has to wonder if Larry Drew is being too loyal to the player who came with him to Milwaukee from Atlanta: Zaza Pachulia. Henson has infinitely more skill as a scorer and as a defender. Even his defensive rebounding percentage has crept past Pachulia’s. It’s time.

Caron Butler, SF 27 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -9

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Caron Butler didn’t make a whole-hearted appeal to get re-inserted into the staring lineup in one game.

Nate Wolters, PG 17 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +11

Wolters looked like the most competent point guard on the team on this particular evening, but that’s an easier feat when you don’t have to demonstrate those skills before garbage time. He had some nice finishes at the rim when the Detroit defense cared the least.

Luke Ridnour, PG 10 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -18

Other having 4 assists and dropping a +/- bomb of -18 in ten minutes played, his boxscore line was virtually empty.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 12 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +7

He tried the Dirk one-legged stepback again. It missed. Moments later, he airballed a jumper. He did manage two dunks, one of which was a swooping, graceful ballet number.

Gary Neal, SG 23 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +1

Down by 28 early in the fourth quarter, the Bucks made a back-door, garbage-time run to cut the deficit to 18 with five minutes left, then Nate Wolters found Neal with a pass that got him a wide-open three-point look. It was the first catch-and-shoot that I’ve seen Neal take as a Buck that was truly off by a large margin.

Larry Drew

Larry Drew asserted after the Bobcats game that such a lackluster effort would never again occur under his watch. Less than 48 hours later, it did.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Brandon Jennings made four of his five shots in the first quarter, all from three-point range. Charlie Villanueva made four of his five shots in the second quarter. The scorned Bucks got their revenge. Jennings, in particular, played with a spiteful edge. To no one’s great surprise, he plays better in those situations.
  2. The Pistons had seven players score in double figures: their starters, plus Rodney Stuckey and Villanueva. Their field-goal attempt totals: 11, 10, 10, 10, 10, 9, 9. That’s an extremely even shot distribution.
  3. One inconceivably miserable first half of basketball. The Bucks trailed at the half, 65-34, leaving fans in need of two aspirin and many more ping pong balls.

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  1. Middleton gets a C- and Butler gets a C+? What game were you watching? Middleton is/was far more effective than Butler tonight!

    • Hehehe.

      As a teacher in real life, nothing annoys me more than random grade griping, but I see your point. Mea culpa. Pretend that Butler has a C- too.

      I think what happened is that I went back and took Middleton down a few pegs for playing well in the first quarter yet not being enough of an impact player to keep his team closer than 20 points. But you’re right, he was at least as good as Butler for this game.

      • KL, I hope you and Jeremy aren’t digging in your heels with Khris Middleton in response to the fans on this site who are at least a little excited about the guy as one of our very few brightspots.
        Didn’t Khris have 8 of our first 14 points when the game was still close? Didn’t the Pistons pull away after he was removed from the game after only 7 minutes? Didn’t he end up getting less minutes then Caron?
        In good humor, we’ve had this talk before, regarding him and Nate being at about the same place in their careers and yet having seemingly different expectations from you and Jeremy. I appreciate your response last time, but I still think you might do well to reconsider. Let’s give Khris a little support, especially as he’s trying to develop his game in the midst of both chaos and malaise, a discouraging and oppressive mix.

        • Wow. That was a thoughtful, graceful way to voice a differing opinion. I have to study that, as I’m usually much meaner and much less effective when voicing such concerns.

          • Thank you very much, oldresorter.
            I’m not sure I did as well with my comments below, but am always trying to hone my game — not too hard, not too soft, always sincere.

  2. Larry Drew said, “I don’t know” several times in the post-game conference. He said, “we’re searching for an identity” more than several times in that same post-game conference.

  3. As ugly as the Bobcats game was, this game may have surpassed that level. Also I agree it may have been a bit too harsh and a bit to high on the Middleton and Butler grades. At least switch the two, I understand it is hard to give anyone a decent grade in this game, but if anyone deserved it it was middleton

  4. A promise broken.

    Coach Drew has failed miserably at the basic premise of coaching. He has not prepared his players to perform.

    Can this group of players WIN 15-18games ?


  5. I understand that he (Drew) is trying to figure things out with this team as far as rotations and minutes go, but it’s inexcusable that Henson is still barely cracking 20 minutes a night.

    Pachulia had a nice start to the season, yes. But ever since he re-aggravated his Achilles, his mobility has decreased dramatically, and his already poor vertical leap is now non-existent. It’s time to shut him down for a while.

    This roster, this team, the coaching, it’s a complete mess. It’s one thing to lose; it’s another to get slaughtered, to point that I decided to not even tune into tonight’s game. And after seeing the first half score, I’m damn glad I decided not to.

    • I’m tuning in to these games and loving them! That being said, I’m fully on board the tanking bus, so maybe my motivations are a bit different.

      • Cautionary tales from the Draft Lottery…
        (1)Derrick Rose — #1 overall 2008
        (2)Derrick Williams — #2 overall 2011
        Hope these guys come back strong/get a fresh start, but right now…

        • Derrick Rose is one of the best players in the NBA. Can’t fault the guy for injuries. Look at #2 in that same draft for a significantly bigger bust.

      • I’m fine with losing as well. It’s not the fact that we’re losing, so much as it is the fact that we’re getting absolutely blown out. It’s possible to lose and still be entertaining: this Bucks team is just a full out train wreck.

  6. Ridnour deserves an F. Were you watching when Jenning pulled up for those three 3s near the end of the first? That was Ridnour guarding him and giving him an unreasonable amount of space to pull up in.

    Its unbelievable to me how veteran players – Ridnour and Mayo specifically – can be doing fundamental things so poorly, i.e. playing some semblance of defense and taking care of the ball.

  7. I had high expectations for Bucks performance going into the last two games. Watching these dramatic upsets makes me wonder if there was any prep prior to these games at all.
    I understand the injuries and rotation problems, but the team played better when there were only 7 of them. Lack of motivation?

    Really could have used “the face of the franchise”. Give Henson more minutes…he’s fun to watch even when he’s not playing his best.


  8. This team is an embarrassment to the NBA. I expected them to be bad, and we need the draft picks, but this is horrifyingly, hopelessly bad. Mayo and Butler have checked out (just look at their body language the last 2 games), and the rest of the roster is pretty much incapable of contributing consistently. I didn’t think it was possible that they would be worse once they got healthier… But, they’re worse.

    Can this team afford to go 12-70 and draw 7,000 fans a game? Even if they get a top pick, I don’t know if a pro team can recover from that kind of failure. Hammond should be ashamed of the product he’s put out on the court this year… Unwatchable and pathetic.

    • I try to remember that it is still rather early in the season, and also that Larry Sanders is out.
      However, since summer I have questioned the wisdom of bringing in 11 new guys; and I wasn’t even sure if it was a big deal; but no one on this site has seemed to think it is a problem. I also questioned not having a true point guard, especially with 11 new guys, and no one has seemed to think it is a problem. Maybe these aren’t the problems, but so far my concerns have been mostly ignored, or when addressed, totally downplayed. (That’s a common experience for me on this site, along with getting really negative responses — although at times positive responses, too, it’s important to recognize.)
      Anyway, I think the archives will show that I was the only one really concerned about the off-season moves for the Bucks and thus really concerned about this season. This might be venting on my part, but it’s hard for me to be mosly ignored, or lightly dismissed, or derisively called a lone wolf. I know I bring things up a lot, but that’s because what I say goes mostly unrecognized.
      Since I’m kind of cranky right now, I also invite anyone to go into the archives to compare the lackluster regret at not playing Tobias and then trading him, with the giddy and gushy excitement over getting J.J. Redick (from both Jeremy & Co. and the fans; the most glaring example being Jeremy; with an honorable mention to Jon Hartzell, since he was so enthusiastic about Tobias in his author profile but then watched his trade with little or no protest). I’ve also been bummed out because expressing criticism on this site has been equated by some fans with disloyalty to the Bucks, which is frustrating and saddening.
      Anyway, I say grouchily, the lead writer and fans on this site are getting pretty much what most of you deserve from the Bucks. Let’s not pretend now that we passionately regret the trading of Tobias, or that we think John Hammond did a bad job assembling this team, when I think the record shows that there was little to no pushback at the time.
      I know I might be getting carried away here, and I might be somewhat off about some of this, but how about some honesty and accountability on this site. (I also apologize to SikmaForThree if these comments don’t apply; it’s just that your post was what got me started a little bit, and then a lot of things poured out from the past and present.)
      I’m angry, but I think mostly sad. Now, excuse me while I duck, to avoid being hit by any insults that are hurled my way — although it’s quite possible I’ll just go on being mostly ignored.

      • The roster turnover shouldn’t have been such a problem. Most sources projected the Bucks to be bad, but not at the bottom of the League. There is something else going on here – veterans abilities have declined significantly, Larry Sanders is injured, and the coach isn’t getting through to anyone.

      • I don’t take any offense at the comments here… and in fact, I agree with most of it wholeheartedly.

        Look, I’m a child of the 80’s so I lived through 8 straight Central Division titles, year after year of relevance, and even the ancient memory of a Bradley Center sellout crowd and a Bucks game being a HOT ticket. It KILLS me to see what this team has been reduced to, and what kills me more is the apathy in Milwaukee towards the Bucks. I didn’t comment much in the offseason, but the theme of my comments going back a year or so is that the Bucks need to find their way back to relevance through clear vision and execution… within the confines of the reality of today’s NBA. That means not banking your entire franchise future on a fictional lottery pick savior who won’t want to be in a small market after 3 years (like EVERY pick in next year’s draft). That means not picking through the annual free agent scrap heap. What is DOES mean is having vision, finding solid pieces that work great together, and having the courage to see it through. Hammond is now overseeing about the 4th makeover of this team during his tenure. I agreed with him that Jennings and Ellis needed to go, because they weren’t taking this team anywhere… but yet again, he provided no blueprint for where this team was heading once those guys were gone, and that’s been his M.O. since his first day here. Seat of his pants management. In the meantime, they’ve lost an army of support amongst the Gen Xers who lived and breathed this team in the 80’s, which also means they’ve also lost the next generation as well, cuz the Gen Xers sure aren’t taking their kids to watch this slop.

        The inability of this team to be relevant and competitive KILLS me… but what will kill me more is if the city allows this team to just fade away to Seattle because of their indifference. If Hammond can’t make it happen then he’s gotta go… now. And if Kohl can’t make it happen, then he needs to sell…locally… now. This organization needs an Attanasio style makeover.

        • AGREED!

          To clarify my recent issues with the Bucks and J.Hammonds in particular — my biggest grievances have occurred after the team essentially moved A.Bogut for M.Ellis. On face value I had absolutely no problem with the trade given Bogut’s frustrations and likely reduced capability after his elbow injury. Enter M.Ellis – an athletic and explosive offensive playmaker who should have been the Bucks primary ball-handler aka POINT GUARD where his size and defense was a much better fit. I personally thought it was integral for the Bucks to move B.Jennings after they acquired the dynamic M.Ellis, so that they could play him at the Point and simply back him up with a combination of B.Udrih and L.Livingston. I also thought that C.Delfino should have slide over to become the team’s starting SG where his size could be an actual asset as well as his outside spot-up shooting capabilities. Some would say that this would leave a void at SF, but I thought that between rotating Luc Richard Mbah A Moute for his defense and Mike Dunleavy for his offense (who also could fill-in for C.Delfino at SG) made a lot of sense, plus it would allow the team to find some available playing time to incorporate rookie Tobias Harris’ development. E.Ilyasova should have been an excellent PnP stretch 4 to complement a dynamic ball-handler such as M.Ellis and should have gotten a ton of playing time at the 4 (30 – 35 minimum), but instead he was sometimes the starter and sometimes coming off the bench and stupidly kept in the mid-to-upper 20s for playing time. I thought that D.Gooden was a nice complement to E.Ilaysova in that Gooden was a better inside presence at PF and had a nice repertoire of offensive moves as well as nice touch around the basket. Outside of those two I thought J.Leuer could have seen a few minutes here and there as another potential stretch 4 for developmental purposes. The problem the team had at the time was at Center. After moving A.Bogut they really didn’t have a defensive anchor. I was excited to see what E.Udoh would provide and was encouraged by what Gooden brought offensively to that position when he was given time there. I considered L.Sanders to much of a basketcase to be considered for anything other than a low-minute energy guy and I never understood the acquisition of J.Brockman. I still think that the front office made a huge mistake by not trying to move B.Jennings for a top draft pick with hopes to acquire a talented Center in the draft or to try snagging away a better than serviceable Center straight up, plus to obviously signal that the team was going to be in the hands of M.Ellis instead of some weird two-headed Guard monstrosity. I just remember thinking — STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! That moto grew and grew in my mind the longer the team kept those two players together culminating to the point of exhaustion last year when the T.Harris fiasco finally occurred. However, to be fully honest the 2012-13 off-season saw some of that stupid, stupid, stupid moto withdraw a tad bit thanks to the drafting of J.Henson and D.Lamb (two players who I really liked in the draft) and the acquisitions of S.Dalembert and J.Przybilla to help bolster the team’s Center position, but unfortunately I still strongly desired to see the team move B.Jennings with the intention of playing M.Ellis at the Point. I wasn’t terribly broken-up about the team letting C.Delfino go because it seemed that the coaching staff wasn’t ever going to be very interested in playing him at the 2 spot where I thought he was a much better fit; plus, on the positive side it might allow the rookie D.Lamb – who I was quite excited about – to see more playing time. I was also very excited to see sophomore T.Harris given ample opportunity to not only see a sizable portion of the playing time at SF, but actually become the starter there which he actually got to do at the beginning of the season after demonstrating some significant growth during the summer league or at least in my opinion it appeared very significant. I thought a sharing of the 3 spot between LRM and Harris made a ton of sense given their offensive and defensive strengths with LRM also occasionally sliding over to play some defense at the 4 spot too. In fact another huge “stupid, stupid, stupid” moment that I recall thinking throughout the first half of the season dealt with the Bucks failing miserably in getting T.Harris the minutes he needed and IMO deserved at the SF spot. Anyways, I thought a part of the need to have LRM play some 4 was because of D.Gooden’s drastic fall-off due to his battle with plantar fasciitis. However, this also presented an opportunity for the team to immediately see what they had in their young 1st round pick J.Henson who I thought should have been given the majority of the remaining playing time behind E.Ilyasova (who should have been getting 30+ minutes on average despite his early season struggles — again “stupid, stupid, stupid” IMO) at the 4 spot with L.Sanders filling in with some energy minutes off the bench between all those other players. The Center position should have easily of been Dalembert’s to man, but he was proving to be a massive disappointment given his attitude and the respect level he was showing toward the coaching and in general the team. E.Udoh was to be the second guy off the bench at the Center position and I continued to hope he’d develop into a solid player for the Bucks there, but with Dalembert’s issues the team really needed him to step-up and be a force for them there; unfortunately, he was proving to be just another guy and J.Przybilla also wasn’t anything more than just a guy given the decline in his physical capabilities. D.Gooden obviously wasn’t the answer, but amazingly L.Sanders seized the opportunity and proved not only to the Bucks that he was much more than just an energy guy, but to the whole NBA; of course he would go on to take ownership of the Center position and put up some of the best defensive numbers in the league last year and just like that the Bucks had found themselves a defensive anchor — who unbelievably was already on the team! So IMO this left the team with one major move to make for the year and that was to ship out B.Jennings and ideally to do so while tying D.Gooden’s massive contract to his moving out or in order to return a top draft pick or even a very good “Shooting” Guard. I remember as the trade deadline neared getting really excited that there were rumors that the Mavericks had a ton of interest in B.Jennings and I was working a million+ different trade possibilities between them and a ton of other teams to find anything that made sense in getting him off the team. Of the million+ moves that I created I certainly considered J.Henson, L.Sanders, T.Harris to be the 3 players that the team would be ill-advised to move because they were to be the future of the franchise IMO; they were to be the building blocks. What a giant F’n debacle the T.Harris trade was and continues IMO to be. It was the epitome of my “STUPID, STUPID, STUPID” feeling towards management’s missionary and visionary outlook as well as the coaching staffs’. It also became apparent that there were some serious team chemistry issues and that M.Ellis’ welcome here had come to an end. After the trade and furthermore the season, I found myself in a state of apathy in regards to the team — I felt like this team wasn’t ever going to get it figured out because management was “STUPID, STUPID, STUPID” and because the basketball culture around the team had become so toxic and dysfunctional that I didn’t see it changing without everything being turned over from the ground up (ownership, management, coaching, players, everything). Oddly enough the pretty major overhauls that the team took during the off-season actually generated some interest back into the team for me — probably because there were still some pieces that could be built around IMO — and despite the feeling that this overhaul was just a sad and desperate attempt to clear the slate and provide a fresh beginning to all the recent blunders by the team I still found myself getting interested. To be honest my initial reaction and somewhat ongoing reaction has been that it’s all just too little/too late, but my love for the team and the game continues to peak my interest levels. Now, I wasn’t and I still am not a huge fan of the L.Drew signing, but I acknowledge it certainly wasn’t a bad signing IMO either; I just wish that the team would have aggressively gone after Mike Budenholzer who ironically took over for L.Drew in Atlanta. I also really wished the Bucks would have been able to get J.Teague from the Hawks during the off-season – I commend their effort and know that it’s not there fault that they weren’t able to. I still think (didn’t speak-up about this earlier, but have been very vocal to many around me) that the team should have aggressively pursued E.Bledsoe not only during the season last year, but this off-season too. Well nevertheless things are what they are and here the Bucks sit – in good position for a top draft pick – and I’m all for the tanking ways this season, but as someone who actually has interest in watching the team and seeing the team stay here in Milwaukee I’m disgusted by what I’m seeing on the court by the players as well as by what I’m seeing from the coaching staff. See my comments below for more on that. Anyways, ever the optimist and silver linings guy I am (inside joke here) I sure hope that the Bucks can get things turned around for the future of the franchise more-so than just a competitive season this year.

        • Thank you, kindly, SikmaForThree, and sillybilly, for responding to me without getting upset with me.
          In general, I am truly sorry if I was too overheated, but I do still feel that what I wrote is pretty much true — although I’d be glad to listen to other perspectives written in good faith.
          I, too, was able to enjoy the rebuilding of the Bucks in the late 1970s, when the team became a model franchise all the way into the early ’90s. Great guys; great teamwork; great success — a great ride, even though we couldn’t quite get past the gauntlet of the Celtics/Sixers in our best years.
          I wrote recently that even if we have five lottery picks, we won’t succeed without good management. I’ve wished John Hammond and Herb Kohl the best in the past, but have been quite hard on them, too; I haven’t given up on them entirely, but do wonder how much more time they deserve. Also, I’m still at least a little troubled by Mr. Kohl’s visit to Sacramento last season as far as his plans for the Bucks.
          In keeping with SitkaForThree, I think its apt to end with another, “Cautionary Tales from the NBA Draft — Part III: The Cleveland Cavaliers.” In 2011, the Cavs picked Kyrie Irving #1 overall plus Tristan Thompson #4 overall; the next year they took Dion Waiters at #4; then this past draft Anthony Bennett at #1. The record for the Cavs this year is 4-10.
          Now I realize that the season is young, and that these players are still young, plus I’m a huge fan of Kryie Irving if he doesn’t become too much of a shooter. I still think the Cavs could be very good, very soon, but it’s not inevitable.
          Then there’s Andrew Bynum, who was #10 overall in 2005. I know that injuries are more or less unavoidable, but it’s also important to realize that injuries can derail the most clever tanks or most sincere rebuilds.
          Finally, there’s the ex-Cav Lebron, who kind of broke my heart when he announced his move to South Beach, even though I’m not a fan of the Cavs; if I were, I wouldn’t want LeBron to come back, either…. “Wish you well, but I’ve moved on.”
          So those are the perils of putting too much emphasis on the draft. I’d love to get Jabari, or another potential superstar, but let’s keep things in perspective. Let’s be loyal to our guys, too, like Larry after his transgression (really mad at him, yes, but still supportive); and let’s not trade so easily our young guys in the future, or underappreciate them, because loyalty works both ways.
          Again, please pardon any excesses on my part, whether in my wording or my wordiness. At times it’s hard to know when I’ve crossed a line; but I mean well to all, and I’ll try to be respectful and brief. God bless!

          • Sfisch no need to apologize for long posts as L now holds record for longest.

            All in fun – enjoy reading both of you and your knowledge of the game makes your opinions credible.

            It’s still early in the season and Bucks have had their share of injury related problems. Still hopeful they can put together a competitive product before this thing implodes.

      • Dude are you serious?

        Even though I shot myself in the foot with that article by spelling something wrong in the title, the point is still solid: I don’t care about one off moves. It’s the entire process that leads to something like a Tobias Harris trade that’s a problem.

        At no point was I ever GIDDY about trading Tobias Harris. Don’t misrepresent the facts. I’m not sold on Harris being a great player by any means, but by the time he was traded, I was so exhausted by constant mismanagement based on a pipe dream plan that all I could do was sigh.

        It’s almost like you’re completely and purposely not getting the point of everything I’ve ever been about. I’m willing to wager I’ve written more words over the years about the Bucks flawed strategy at shooting for mediocrity than anyone else in the world

        Great, you like young players. You were correct that Harris was a valuable player. Maybe you’re even right that Middleton and Wolters are good. Congratulations. But don’t take those victories as proof that I haven’t been about embarking on a new strategy for the last four years, because that’s totally inaccurate.

        • Jeremy, first of all I didn’t say you were giddy about trading Tobias, but that you were rather unconcerned about the trading of Tobias, especially compared to your enthusiasm over getting J.J. Redick.
          When Tobias was traded, you wrote that you were going back-and-forth about the trading of Tobias, and maybe it was worth it to get J.J. Then you gushed about J.J. after one of his early games with the Bucks, saying something like you loved just about everything about his game.
          Going back to last January or so, I never heard you saying anything nearly that gushy about Tobias. When I started asking why he was getting so few minutes, you wrote little or nothing. When I lobbied for Tobias to get 15-25 minutes per game, I don’t remember you lobbying with me. When Tobias was talked about in a possible trade, I don’t think you said anything like, “No, don’t do it!” After the trade, you weren’t exactly crestfallen, maybe mildly disappointed at most. Yet, in contrast, you sure were high on J.J.
          Anyone can check the archives. I think it was BigDog who derisively said that it seemed as though I liked being a lone wolf, which hurt. Your post above is a little hurtful, too. With maybe a little support here and there, I basically waged a one-man campaign for Tobias on these pages, and I was indeed pretty much a lone wolf who was mostly ignored, or treated with at least a little ridicule and scorn. I would have loved some backing in my corner, but there was little to none, and certainly not from you.
          Again, it’s all on record. I think what else is on record is evidence that I do read your words carefully, that I’ve expressed appreciation for your work, and that I’ve always been respectful to you even in disagreement. I think you do a good-to-excellent job with Bucksketball, but in this case I think your are way off.
          I wish you the best, and I hope this is resolved in an amicable and upbeat way.

          • JJ Redick plays an intensely enjoyable game to watch. If the organization wanted to throw away last season, which they were hell bent on doing from the get-go, then Redick made more sense than Harris. For more than last season, Harris definitely made more sense.

            Harris never moved off the ball and didn’t react very well to plays here. When he got the ball, he was capable of scoring, but he had no idea how to play off the ball. In Orlando, the ball is in his hands, but if Tobias Harris is the guy with the ball in his hands on your team, your team probably isn’t very good.

            But they had that foolish playoff goal in mind. And that was the bigger issue. It was the mindset overall. Ultimately, I don’t care much about Tobias Harris. I think he’s fine, but don’t think he’s going to be an All-Star or anything like that.

            The much more significant issue at play last season was the team trying to a playoff spot, just to try for a playoff spot. Waste of a year of everyone’s life.

          • I think it does go to “process” though, Jeremy, although we may or may not define it in exactly the same way.
            For example, I’m not saying Tobias is a complete player even now, and nothing is for sure about his future, but for the front office to give up on a young first-round draft choice with nice potential, so early and so casually — as part of a trade for three guys who aren’t even still on our team — seems to be horrible process.
            That’s why I’ve written that even if Tobias doesn’t make it in the NBA, it was still a stupid trade, because it was bad process.
            After all, how many years did it take J.J. to become a solid player in the NBA, and even now he’s no star. If we’re not willing to give our guys a chance to develop, why draft an 18-year-old from the JV team in Greece who possible wasn’t even properly scouted. How long do we give him to develop? (By the way, now that we do have Giannis, I’ve been rooting for him to succeed big time.)
            Another thing about process: I think we do have to care about our guys, alot. If we want them to be loyal to us, we have to be loyal to them. As fans, we have to nurture them in a sense, show that we care about them for more than just their jumpshots and dunks. For example, I’m really mad at Larry right now, but I still want to support him and encourage him to turn things around. I know these guys are multi-millionaires, but they are also very young — and I know I made stupid mistakes when I was their age, and also a lot older, like yesterday.
            Also, not every player has to be an all-star, especially if they work hard, play well with others, and dedicate themselves to winning basketball. Plus, you never know when a Kawhi Leonard, or Paul George, or Nikola Vucevic might emerge.
            I’ll end by quoting something I wrote in response to you last March about the Tobias trade (which you linked above): “Jeremy, I think you do a really good job as the lead-author of this blog, but in a good-natured way I’m going to disagree with your latest post almost completely…. Again, Jeremy, you do a really good job. All of this is written in a positive spirit of earnest but fun debate.”
            Then, as now, and going forward, I’m with you, even in heated disagreement. Even when I get things wrong, I mean well, and want to be corrected in a good way. I’m guessing that this is what you want for Bucksetball — am I right? So how about a virtual handshake and no hard feelings.

  9. I’ll say it once more. Play the best guys 30 minutes plus (Henson, Ersan, Middleton, Wolters and Giannis) and don’t worry about anyone else.

    • Strongly agree – Add a healthy Sanders to that list and you accomplish two things: Give the team a better chance of winning and give playing time to the guys that will be around in the future.

    • If they’re gonna lose anyways, and these young guys are who the team believes is their future (which nobody in the organization seems to have the nuts to commit to), then I completely agree. Watching Mayo and Butler sulk and chuck up contested 25 footers when they get down by 20… it’s a welcome change to see these young guys come in and show their excitement for the opportunity and some passion in their play.

  10. I’m all aboard the tank wagon myself, but I also would like to see some actual competitiveness from this team; something to be excited about going into next year beyond just a top draft pick. To that extend WTF is the coaching staff doing? Why isn’t the team drawing up offensive sets to get the ball into the hands of J.Henson on the low block in a clear out so that he can work on developing his offensive repertoire? This should be a clear focal point for the team and then create other offensive opportunities off of that.

    I’m hoping that B.Knight can be a serviceable PG for the Bucks, but MY GOD did he look like a child lost amongst men last night… he looked incredibly unsure of himself, what he should do with the ball in his hands or how to play within a team… I wonder if part of it can be attributed to a lack of confidence in his hamstring (his offensive jumper and explosiveness, plus his defensive ability to stay aggressive against his man)? Overall, he just looked terrible (really terrible) but I think the team has to ride this out and continue to give him the opportunity to improve.

    I really liked what I saw from K.Middleton once again, but I don’t understand what the hell the coaching staff is doing with his minutes. Let the damn kid play! Give him 30 minutes a game and let him develop his game and role on the team.

    IMO, the roles on offensive should be more like this (in half court setups)…

    OJ.Mayo & G.Neal both should be the team’s primarily catch-and-shoot players. These guys should be looking to model their game off of former DET Piston SG Rip Hamilton; it should include lots and lots of moving without the ball in hopes of creating good catch-and-shoot opportunities or even some cutting and finishing opportunities too.

    E.Ilyasova and Giannis should be the main PnR and PnP guys the team should be using; Ilyasova’s game is perfect for the pick and pop, plus hopefully he can further develop his ability to role to the hoop. Giannis’s game should compliment this tactic well and I hope they work on developing it this season with hopes of developing his game with the ball in his hand down the road.

    K.Middleton and C.Butler should be looking to mix up their game with some catch-and-shoot opportunities, slashes to the basket, as well as some PnRs and PnPs.

    B.Knight, N.Wolters, and begrudgingly L.Ridnour should be looking first to try getting the ball to J.Henson in the low post (THAT’S WHERE HE SHOULD BE SETTING UP!!!) followed by 3-point perimeter spacing. Another major offensive set should be to run either a Pick and Pop with E.Ilyasova or a Pick and Role. Otherwise lots of off-ball movement by the other team members should be able to create some nice catch-and-shoot opportunities. Down the road if B.Knight’s hamstring allows for him to be more explosive maybe then he could demonstrate an ability to penetrate into the lane getting the defense to collapse on him and in-turn create open looks for other team members, but as for now he looks slow as if he’s nursing that hamstring.

    J.Henson should be the team’s offensive focal point in the half court. Get the ball down to him low on the block and clear out. Let him either go to work one-on-one or use screen games away from him to get guys open slashes to the basket or open catch-and-shoot looks outside. Let him figure out how to expose mismatched opponents; when to back down someone without the strength to stop him, when to face up and either explode past a slower big or step-back and shoot over a shorter guy. Allow him to continue working on his dribble drive hook shot in the lane, plus develop a very important passing game; one that looks to hit the open slashers and those who are coming free off of screens for open looks or even to kick the ball back out when double teams are brought against him. Point is that J.Henson’s development should be the key to this season and he should be getting 30 minutes a game at minimum unless fouling out prevents him from reaching that amount of playing time.

    • Excellent commentary.

      Agree totally with the offensive philosophy.

      But the reality right now is that OJ Mayo is not active off the ball and is not a catch and shoot player. He should be but he’s not – he prefers to take shots in isolation. OJ Mayo iso plays eat up shot clock, don’t facilitate secondary options, often end in turnovers, and have a low rate of conversion (his 2p fg% is abysmal). The fact that Mayo doesn’t understand his limitations and what his role should be (catch and shoot) is hurting this team and will hurt his career. All of the same things can be said to some extent for Caron Butler. Being a catch and shoot player takes hard work, Im not sure if Mayo or Butler have it in them. Gary Neal plays his bench role decently IMO, but he’s just on the wrong team, he is a fit with a good team not the Bucks who rely on him for too much.

      Knight can’t work the pnr pnp with Ilyasova/Giannis/Middleton. He’s demonstrated his inadequacy in that area pretty thoroughly throughout his career. Wolters is by far the best option to run the pnr and pnp because he is the best ball handler on the team and maintains great vision and true triple threat ability as he probes a defense. If Ridnour isn’t hitting his midrange shot he really has no value, he’s never been that great of a facilitator, maybe better than Knight but still not a great creator. People who say Ilyasova is no good are stupid. He is enormously valuable but is at the same time totally reliant on facilitation. The Bucks need to hold onto him and keep him happy, if we get a top draft pick Ers could be paying dividends in a year or two.

      And finally Henson. Given what we are seeing thus far it makes little sense not to make Henson’s development a priority. The guy appears to have an unblockable shot that he can convert at a pretty decent rate. Guys make careers out of that sort of thing. Let Henson camp down low and feed him the ball, let him do his thing against all of the bigs in the League. I suspect that his post game is more valuable than people realize especially because he has the athleticism needed to play in small ball lineups.

  11. In response to Sfisch’s comment about cautionary draft tales.

    Agree with your thinking, but “potential injuries” cannot be included in player projection. Unfortunate circumstances for D. Rose. As for Derrick Williams, again I get your point but he was never viewed as a franchise changing star.

    I was pretty skeptical with the hype of the consensus top 4 (wiggins, parker, randle & smart). However since watching them closely this year, all of them have all-star abilities. I’d say Wiggins is the least threatening scorer, but his athleticism and defense is off the charts. I’d personally say Jabari Parker would be the best fit for the Bucks. Basically my point is these guys are considered as sure of things as the Lebron, Anthony and Wade draft and from what I’ve seen I concur. Defiantly a chance for the Bucks to get good a little sooner, barring we rid ourselves of butler, neal, ridnour, udoh and maybe even mayo.

    unrelated, Wolters and Knight should start in the back court. I’m a huge sucker for potential, but fans who think Brandon Knight is a point guard are just as delusional as John Hammond. His strengths are more suited for SG.

    at full strength a Wolters, Knight, Middleton, Ersan, and Sanders starting 5 could actually compete. Most of the others besides Giannis and Henson aren’t in it for the team.

  12. All of you writers/analysts/moderators need to stop with the Middleton hate. It is really starting to get embarrassing. Down by 3 and he has 8 of our 14 pts. Drew takes him and someone else out and we don’t score for 3 or 4 mins and are down by 24. Drew calls multiple time outs and no return of Middleton. start second quarter with same basically same line-up that produced the deficit. Down 30, Middleton comes back in, game is over in the second qtr and vets are in full chuck mode and you guys have the nerve to dis Middleton’s effect on the game. You guys are embarassing and clueless.

    And Giannis, as nice a kid as he is, he looks awful out there and in no way should be in front of Middleton or Caron. But don’t get me wrong. I believe he deserves and should get at least 12-14 meaningful minutes a game at the SF and PF spots to help his development . But let’s be honest, he is only 18 and he is going to need time, at least a year plus. Putting him out there as a starter or primary back-up will destroy his confidence anda possible build a reputation around the league and with the refs that he is a hacker due to all the silly fouls he commits now due to his inexperience.

    Wolters, I might be in the minority here, but he is right where he belongs. He currently dribbles way to much killing the shot clock. Takes awful forced shots for a person that can’t shoot and personally don believe he sees the floor that well at all. He dribbles thru at least 10-15 passes a game. He does not have the concept of the ‘ hockey assist’ when it comes to basketball. I don’t see him thinking two plays ahead. To me, these deficiencies equate to wasted possessions which equals turnovers in my book. For now, give me Knight, he moves the ball, good defense, and speed with much potential, Ridnour just needs to get healthy and not fall into the Butler, Neal trap of “I’m gonna be the man”. Let Wolters watch and learn just a few more things, then he’ll be alright. This is just one man’s opinion .



    Wolters is 5th in the entire NBA in “hockey assists” and he was literally #1 a week ago before his playing time got cut. So your “opinion” that he doesn’t have a concept of a secondary assist just got crushed by facts.

    Agree he’s shooting poorly, but to say he “can’t shoot” is shortsighted. He admitted himself he comes from being the go-to-scorer in high school and college and now has to pick and choose his shots (usually only 7-10 a game) and he’s just not comfortable with that yet. Also your “theory” that the extended length of his ball-handling equals imaginary turnovers compared to Knights actual (and more real) 4.1 TO’s a game average is pretty lolz. Yeah Knight is more flashy but that doesn’t equal wins.

    • Cheddar – as I said, I might be in the minority with my Wolters opinion and I understand each of the points you mentioned. But stats can be a funny thing especially when the sample size is so small and the many blowouts we’ve been on the wrong end of. Some players’ stats can be somewhat inflated under the above mentioned circumstances. Gianniis is a prime example of that because unfortunately we only see him when the game is out of hand, no one cares anymore and he is playing against the other teams 3rd string. Just from watching the games I ‘feel’ that Wolters’ stats are somewhat padded in the second half when we are usually way out of the game by then. When starting and playing against opponents 1st string I see a struggling rookie which is not a bad thing, just what I see and expect. Especially at the PG position. Don’t think he is a bad player by any means, just needs some seasoning and like you mentioned, realize that he doesn’t need to nor should he dominate the ball at this level. Truth be told, we all know our PG options at present are pretty slim. I say go with Knight for now and let Nate get a little more comfortable out there.


  14. I know 2-11 is pretty bad but should we really be surprised at the Bucks offensive ineptness? Knight is terrible as a PG to no1’s surprise, OJ Mayo is even worse as a facillitator. This team has absolutely zero shot creators (unless u count Gary Neal) and arguably their best offensive player has missed most of the season (Ersan). In the Preseason there was very little to indicate that this roster could score points and I still don’t see it in December. Larry Sanders will help this team win a little bit but he won’t help them score more points. They are going to make a panic trade..mark my words