Haiku Reviews 2014 edition: Scrappy, absent and gone

Miroslav Raduljica

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Moves very slowly.
Solid player may exist,
within mighty frame.

In one pre-game media session, Larry Drew spent a good 45 seconds discussing Raduljica’s strengths as a shooter. I remember him talking about his stroke and how we haven’t really seen it yet, but his ability was there. ‘Slav didn’t get much of an opportunity to show off the stroke though:

miroslav raduljica shooting chart

Despite the season reaching the utter depths of misery, we still haven’t seen too much of Raduljica. He looked like he knew how to handle himself around the hoop, he looked very slow and I’m not sure if he was ever really in “NBA shape”.

If someone was so inclined to visit his page on NBA.com, they’d immediately be presented with a highlight. Unfortunately, the highlight is him being dunked on by Anthony DavisTough. What that tells me is ‘Slav didn’t get much of an opportunity for highlights this season and didn’t really produce one when he was out there. He isn’t a highlight guy. But that doesn’t mean he’s doomed to be ineffective forever.

Maybe next year we’ll see him more prepared to handle the rigors of an NBA season and given the opportunity to unleash that jumper I heard so much about one day.

Jeff Adrien

There are a lot of photos available of Adrien boxing out. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
There are a lot of photos available of Adrien boxing out. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Go-to descriptor
“scrappy”. Could also have been
“poor defensively”.

Everyone is enamored with Adrien’s rebounding. It’s difficult not to be. In 28 games with the Bucks, he grabbed 25% of all available defensive rebounds while he was on the court. Those aren’t quite top-10 numbers, but they are impressive nonetheless. Especially for a guy who is 6-foot-7.

But here’s the thing: Despite his ability to finish possessions, he didn’t really seem to be very good at defense. Time and again he seemed to find himself sliding out of position and trying to play catchup when other teams ran pick and rolls. Rebounding is great, but sometimes it came at the cost of contesting shots. I’m not saying he should have been trying to block everything, but he seemed more rebound hungry than right play hungry at times.

All disclaimers that are usually applied apply here, but Adrien ranked 452 in the league according to MySynergySports.com in points per possession allowed as a defender during his time with the Bucks. The Bucks were a bad defensive team all season and especially in the second half, so this isn’t just on Jeff Adrien, but I’m not sure he was much part of the solution. I’d say he was more problem than solution, even.

But, he was at least a pleasure to watch from an intensity and physicality measure. Whether that should have led to more playing time for him is another story, but as this season wound down and there was little reason to watch the Bucks, sometimes he provided that reason. Hopefully he keeps getting better and finds a 10th-11th man role for a few more years.

Zaza Pachulia

A fine backup big.
Thrust into too big a role.
Typical Bucks big.

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Pachulia had a slightly worse version of his previous two seasons. He didn’t play many games (58/52/53 in past three seasons), but he scored less on a lower shooting percentage and grabbed fewer rebounds. As always, he was a capable backup center.

Unfortunately, he spent the majority of the season masquerading as a starting center. The most significant thing he did with all of his starts was make a lot of free throws early in the season (was making them at a better than 90% clip for a long while, en route to a career best 84% FT number), which is to say he had a pretty insignificant season, which is to say that he had a very Zaza Pachulia season. If Milwaukee goes the Joel Embiid route, there’s no shame in having Zaza to back him up and show him the ways of the NBA. That seemed to be Milwaukee’s goal last season, but replace Embiid’s name with Larry Sanders. 

But this always seems to happen in Milwaukee. We can easily replace Sanders and Pachulia’s names with Andrew Bogut and Drew Gooden. Guys seem to constantly be forced into larger roles as the team scrambles to come up with alternatives. It seemed like the Bucks were more set than ever with big men before last season started, but Larry Drew never really seemed to figure the rotation out when Sanders exited it. John Henson bounced back and forth between center and power forward and rarely shared minutes with Pachulia over the back half of the season. It was all very strange.

Ultimately, it didn’t help Pachulia much and he didn’t help the team much.

Caron Butler

Butler seems just fine with how things worked out this season. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Butler seems just fine with how things worked out this season. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Two very good games.
32  that were much worse.
And still, now playoffs.

I watched Butler hit a three and get fouled in a playoff game for Oklahoma City last night. I didn’t have a thought of bitterness. I didn’t loathe his fortune that he ended up on a team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook while his former teammates started vacations early and played out the stretch on the worst team in a franchise’s history. It’s hard to begrudge Caron Butler.

Sometimes he said things that gave people pause, but Larry Drew maintained that Butler was a professional. I didn’t see him do anything particularly outrageous and he seemed more optimistic than most early in the season that the team was just about to turn it around. They didn’t. He didn’t. Nothing worked out in Butler’s last go-round as a top scoring option in the NBA. Perhaps foresight should have caught that one, but I think most were wrapped up in Butler’s teary eyed introductory press conference and wanted to believe something positive would come out of the season.

But he didn’t last the season in Milwaukee. The team didn’t perform well. He won’t own the Bucks. Nothing all that good came out of Butler being back home.

He was able to move on to something better though. Good for him. He seems like a good dude.

Categories: Ridiculous Things

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