Bucks Diary: Nov. 1 2005
BUCKS ON THE RISE
Prior to the Bucks acquisition of C Jamaal Magliore, it was difficult to find any expert who said they were a play-off contender. After the acquisition, the Bucks stock rose considerably. In fact, one respected publication calls them a "play-off lock". (Dime Magazine).
Their "power ranking" -- a pretty fair indication of the common wisdom about the team -- is also on the ascent. In the latest edition of the FoxSports.com power rankings the Bucks have vaulted to No. 12. They are No. 13 on ESPN.com.
Is the newfound respect justified? I'm not entirely convinced. The Bucks are now clearly constructed in the San Antonio Spurs image, but there is one conspicuous difference. Milwaukee has no Manu Ginobli. They have no one who, when the shot clock runs down or the offensive play has failed, can go to the hole with aggression and either draw the defense and then pass to an open teammate, take the shot himself, or force the defense to foul him and send him to the free throw line. The NBA types refer to such a player as a "slasher". Without that ingredient the Bucks will basically be one of those two-men-in-the-paint-three-outside-the-3 point line teams. I'm not saying they won't be successful with this formula, but I want to see it work before I start proclaiming great fortunes for the team.
What is Sam Smith Smoking?
Sam Smith, columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and one of the better NBA analysts around (in my opinion) had a really weird column about the Bucks yesterday. The basic point he made was that the Bucks pulled off a real coup getting Magliore. That was a solid observation. But some of his subpoints were questionable. First he said the Bucks would be a dangerous team that the elite teams in the NBA would legitimately fear for the first time since Kareem wore the green. What? Did he miss the Don Nelson teams of the 80s. I think they were pretty good. How about the George Karl teams of recent vintage. Yes, they were flawed and psychologically disturbed, but I think most every team in the NBA feared them. Then Smith said he fully expected the Bucks to challenge for the Eastern Conference championship. While I appreciate the love, I just don't know. Are they that much better this year? My heart hopes he's right, but my head says he was overcaffineated when he wrote that column.