It was almost alarming how bad the Summer Milwaukee Bucks looked Monday night in an 87-71 loss to the Summer Utah Jazz. They couldn’t hit a jump shot. They couldn’t finish at the rim. They had no answer for raw second year center Rudy Gobert, who sealed off defenders and finished in the paint on offense and rejected shot after shot on defense. It was not a pleasant visual experience. It seemed troubling.
But it’s the Summer Milwaukee Bucks. This isn’t the Milwaukee Bucks. This team doesn’t even bare a passable resemblance to the team that will be taking the court this coming October. Jordan Taylor’s struggle is not a problem the actual Bucks need concern themselves with. An overmatched Ben Brust is no cause for concern.
We know very little more about the actual Bucks today than we did yesterday.
But the Jazz can probably feel a bit more optimistic. With all the caution necessary since this is Summer League, there seemed to be at least moderate reason for the Jazz to feel good, as Gobert (13 points, nine rebounds, five blocks) and first round pick Rodney Hood (29 points, 7-10 3FG) looked like real live prospects. Again, they were playing against the B-ist of B teams, but it’s always fun to see players on the team you like play well. So hooray for the Jazz and boo for the Bucks.
This is an especially “boo for the Bucks” night, as number two pick Jabari Parker had his worst game of the young summer thus far. He finished with 14 points on 6-14 FG, which doesn’t seem all that bad, but time after time he took long jump shots or struggled to get a clean look in the paint. He was able to drive by the likes of Erik Murphy a time or two, but in general his moves in the paint that once got him open layups at Duke were swallowed up by the mammoth Gobert or a number of other Jazz defenders.
On a night where Andrew Wiggins wowed the crowd and a couple days after Dante Exum’s thrilling debut, we’ve still yet to see the best of Parker. Or at least what we hoped for would be the best. But … we’re three games into Las Vegas Summer League, so who the hell really cares?
While Parker wasn’t stellar, Giannis Antetokounmpo was far more interesting. He was playing point guard for the majority of his time on the court, so the ball was in his hands often. And the influx of possessions didn’t seem to make him weary of doing something with them. It seemed like every time he caught the ball, in the first half especially, his plan was to attack the basket. And he did so in a number of different ways.
On his very first touch, he caught the ball on the perimeter and took a dribble and posted up his smaller defender. He gave him a dribble or two, got into the paint, did a spin/drop-step type move and finished uncontested at the rim with a finger roll. After that he caught on the perimeter and drove hard to the hoop on at least three or four occasions early on and either was met by Gobert at the rim. A couple times, Gobert got the best of him with a block. But once, Giannis finished over him with a two-hand slam. It was interesting to see how often he was able to get by his man on the perimeter and get to the next level. In the second quarter, he caught the ball with a smaller Trey Burke on him and promptly posted up the tiny point guard, took him to the elbow and hit a simple jump shot, exploiting his size advantage.
Later in the game (third or fourth quarter, I can’t remember specifically), the ball was swung to him on the perimeter. He decisively took a dribble, then spun towards the hoop, finished with a finger roll and drew the foul. It wasn’t always so smooth for him, as he finished with four turnovers and made only 6-16 FG on his way to his 15 points, but once again, we saw progress from Giannis.
As for the rest of the relevant roster players?
Nate Wolters did nothing of note and Johnny O’Bryant was badly out-classed by Gobert. While Gobert has a significant height advantage, O’Bryant seemingly should be able to get underneath him with his body to keep him off the glass. But O’Bryant never really made use of his bulk advantage over his lanky opponent. Gobert went over the top of him for boards and rendered him ineffective on offense. The big man from LSU was able to use his size to bounce Jazz backup center Greg Somogyi off balance, opening up a couple of easy finishes, but he didn’t flash much.