You’ll never see an NBA owner or GM explicitly admit to tanking. The closest many will get is through veiled references to “evaluating young talent”, “rebuilding”, or “looking toward the future”. And many, many times you won’t even get that.
And Tom Thibodeau would probably be pretty upset with you if you tried to tell him his team was tanking. Just a hunch.
But man, look at these two teams. LOOK AT THEM. The Bulls just traded away their best player for $6 million dollars that is decidedly NOT Andrew Bynum and would you look at those second round picks! It’s almost Milwaukee-esque!
And the Bucks? Yeah. How ’bout them Bucks, eh?
What to Watch For: Bucks
For all the badness surrounding the team lately, there have been bright spots. Over his last ten games, Brandon Knight is averaging 21.7 points (on 46% shooting!), 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds. While one of the recent HOT BUCKS TAKEZ is whether or not he’s a “real” point guard, Brandon is quietly going about playing some of the best basketball of his young career. The interesting part is that he still has some pretty clear parts of his game to improve — and at 22 years old, he still has time to do so.
In non-Knight news, we’ve seen Giannis Antetokounmpo slot into a starting role nearly seamlessly. The next step is for him to be more aggressive on the offensive end. In the ten games that he’s started, Giannis has taken 58 shots, for an average of 5.8 per game. Considering the other offensive options the Bucks have right now… it would be great to see that average bump up to 10 or so. I’m not sure if it’s the offensive design, Giannis’ limitations moving in the offense, his deference to his teammates, or some combination thereof that’s causing his lack of shooting, but it would be really neat to see him assert himself more.
What to Watch For: Bulls
In the wake of the Luol Deng trade, the Bulls have tacitly acknowledged that they’re willing to trust their own rookie, Tony Snell, with a bigger role in the offense. While he’s had some struggles and had his minutes limited, Snell flashed his potential on Tuesday against the Suns, scoring 12 points in 21 minutes on 5-for-7 shooting. As the Bulls… ahem… “explore the developmental possibilities of their young assets”, it seems like we’ll get a good look at him and maybe sophomore Marquis Teague if things get really out of hand.
Time – 7:30 p.m. CST
TV – FS Wisconsin (local)
Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova (hand; questionable), John Henson (ankle; questionable), Zaza Pachulia (foot; out), Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out)
Bulls: Carlos Boozer (knee; probable), Derrick Rose (knee; out), Mike Dunleavy (elbow; questionable)
PG Brandon Knight
SG Luke Ridnour
SF Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C Larry Sanders
PG: Kirk Hinrich
SG: Jimmy Butler
SF: Mike Dunleavy
PF: Taj Gibson
C: Joakim Noah
Jeremy’s For Recreational Purposes Only Prediction (aka Betsketball KL’s Surrogate Betsketball)
Line: Chicago (-4)
Over/Under: 179 (!!!!!)
In my first attempt at picking/hijacking Betsketball, I was all set to pick the fat, juicy ‘under’ knowing fully that these two tank-tastic teams have both played some uninspired offense of late. But then I saw the line posted as 179. Good golly, that’s a low total.
So I’m revising my prediction to account for the presence of Brandon Knight, who turned around his season shortly after these teams played twice in mid-December.
Bucks (+4), over 179
Choose the Form of the Destroyer: Jimmy “G” Buckets (Butler)
The “G” stands for “gets”. I love that nickname.
Plus, he went to Marquette, which is pretty cool. I remember thinking he was good in college but also recall never really considering him a serious NBA prospect. It looks like I was wrong. Jimmy’s on track to become a very solid “3-and-D” wing (remember when that was such a hot buzzword before the season started?) and could end up being a great compliment to Derrick Rose when the two actually spend any time on the court together. Since he’s a hometown guy and all, I expect that he’ll feel right at home at the BMOBC and go off for 27 or so points.