Haiku reviews 2014 edition: The Disappointments
Trouble on/off court
tried the patience of many.
Inconsistency is often the hallmark of a bad season for a basketball player, but it’s hard to say Sanders was inconsistent this season. He was injured in the exhibition season. He was injured throughout most of November, December, February, March and April. He was in some trouble in November and in a different sort of trouble in April. When he played, he didn’t play very well, spare his final five games or so.
From start to finish, the whole season was a disaster.
He was able to do quite a bit of posting of scenery to Instagram throughout the year though, so that’s a plus. Well, it wasn’t always a plus. But hey, at least he had a season that made everyone forget that he got RECIEVE tattooed on his arm.
He remained undeterred and focused though, and if the picture focused social media service is any indication, his spirit remains intact and his outlook is positive. #StayNappyMyFriends and hope for Larry to have a bounce back summer leading into a bounce back season in 2014-15.
Hot topic: The weight
gain of a guy some call juice.
Should switch to water?
Mayo averaged 15.2 points and made 45% of his threes in the month of November, though his underwhelming 41% average from the field overall suggested that even bigger things were to come. Surely he would round into shape as a scorer and find a way to bring that shooting percentage up around his career mark, which hovered around 43%. If he could keep hitting threes at a career best pace, he was well on his way to a big season, possibly his finest as an NBA player as a scorer.
This season ended up not being his finest season. He quit making threes in December and didn’t make any other shots to make up for those misses. In virtually every road game, announcers wondered how much weight he had gained this season. He dealt with some injuries and eventually caught some mysterious illness that kept him out of the lineup in late January. Larry Drew played coy whenever he was asked about it and when he finally re-entered the lineup after the All-Star break, he had missed 10 games and nearly a month.
He returned for a handful of games, then missed another six before suddenly re-entering the rotation. It didn’t seem like he really knew what he place was for the majority of the season and by this point, the season was so far gone, I wouldn’t have blamed him for not caring what his place was anymore.
As the season wound down, it was back to the bench with another injury. He sprained his ankle against the Clippers in late March and missed Milwaukee’s final 11 games, though the Bucks had zero incentive to play him.
This was the guy who was Milwaukee’s prime acquisition over the summer. Most suspected he would be the team’s leading scorer and the focal point of its offense. He was rarely either of those things. He was as much of a disaster as anyone and his weight gain became as much of a punchline as the team’s anemic record.
At some point, people stopped asking about him and caring whether or not he was in the lineup. He was written off. But he’ll be around next season and he’ll have his chance at redemption … in some form. If Milwaukee ends up with another young wing, he may have to fight to win back the starting spot that seemed it would easily be his for the next three years. He’s another guy who could have something to prove and another guy with a contract to live up to.
Good locker room guy.
Bringer of vet leadership.
Turns out: Not so much.
I don’t know what sort of promises were made to Gary Neal. He left a good situation in San Antonio, though it didn’t sound like it was necessarily his choice alone:
“My family loved San Antonio and I had a great three years. I will be forever grateful to Coach Pop (Gregg Popovich) and (Spurs general manager) R.C. Buford for giving me a chance to live out my dream in the NBA.
“But it is a business. Milwaukee was the best situation for me and I’m excited.”
Milwaukee doesn’t seem like a great situation for anyone, present company included. So I figure Neal expected a significant opportunity would present itself were he to spend a year near Lake Michigan. But that didn’t quite happen. After an okay November, he was out of the rotation a week or so into Decmber, battling injuries, his coach and, a week into January, his teammate.
We don’t know exactly what was promised or where ti all went wrong for Neal, but we know he shot a ton when he was on the court and generally didn’t appear to be a very effective player. He didn’t seem to bring all of the leadership and quality character qualities the Bucks apparently had hoped he would. Being a Spur at one time doesn’t mean you spread Spursness across the league in every locker room you step foot in. Maybe there was a reason San Antonio didn’t put up too much of a fight when offers started coming in for Neal.
He learned this season,
sometimes tires catch on fire.
They’re hard to put out.
He doesn’t escape this list just because he’s the team’s coach. The Bucks looked no better defensively down the stretch, presumably after a season spent learning what Drew wanted them to do, than they did the first week of the season. He relied heavily on Jeff Adrien over Milwaukee’s last 20 games, despite some glaring defensive deficiencies. Maybe he wanted to preserve John Henson or maybe, as he said, he was looking for Henson to display more of a presence inside on the defensive end, but it’s hard to think Adrien’s minutes were going to work out better than Henson’s would have and Drew maintained his goal was to win games down the stretch.
The Bucks never seemed to gel. This was a team whose sum was significantly less than its parts. Veterans like Mayo, Neal and Caron Butler all spoke out about Drew’s confusing rotations. Mayo specifically said the team lacked any sort of identity in late January, long after a team should know what it is. But that wasn’t so surprising. What sort of coach is Drew? We knew that he was generally regarded as a player’s coach, but he didn’t have a pedigree as an offensive or defensive guy, just as a guy who did some okay things with some okay players. For the first time, Drew was thrust into a situation without two or three All-Stars this season and it almost literally could not have gone worse.
Yes, both Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton seemed to get better as players this season and Drew did get Giannis Antetkounmpo more playing time than anyone could have expected, but I’d say Giannis took those minutes as much as Drew gave them to him.
Overall, he could possibly be credited with some development, but this season was an unmitigated disaster and he was the one who oversaw it. He coached the worst Bucks team of all time. He coached what will probably go down as the most underachieving Bucks team of all time. If this team doesn’t drastically improve by next January, he will probably be gone.
For Sanders, Mayo and Drew, one thing is certain: The pressure is on next season.