Bucks at the Quarter Pole
Canadians make a big deal out of the "Quarter Pole" in hockey, the quarter point of the season. In basketball generally we could not care less. However, since I haven't posted in weeks (I've been in Mexico) I'm desperate for some kind of topic to get this blog relaunched. So here are a few of my impressions on the Purple and Green as they pass turn number one:
These random blowouts frighten me
I can't get my mind around these blowout losses suffered by the Bucks. They seem to be a good team when they put their collective mind to it, but what does it say about them that they can have such gigantic letdowns?
They should never have been blown out by the Kings, Jazz, Lakers, or Heat. Sure, in a couple of those games they have been shorthanded, but talent alone should have kept them closer than the final score.
Because the team is so maddeningly inconsistent, I don't know what to make of them. They are sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference, but I'm not sure they are at this point a legitimate playoff team. I'm not sure what they are.
Ford has to improve his defense
A couple of weeks back TJ Ford said something to the effect that in the NBA its difficult to shut guys down, so -- I'm heavily paraphrasing here -- his goal is simply to outscore them. Sorry TJ, that's a bunch of bullshit. Ford gets lit up more often than those candles at a Catholic Church, and I'm getting sick of it.
The latest to victimize Ford was the over-the-hill Miami PG Gary Payton, a guy who is basically playing on fumes. In the game prior to that, he was taken to town by the Knicks midget rookie Nate Robinson. Unacceptable! Ford has to start to take some pride in his defense. I realize he's undersized, but if he wants to play in the NBA he has to find a way to at least harass the opposition's point guard.
Williams the Quarter Pole MVP
I absolutely can't say enough good things about G Michael Williams. Thus far he stands as the Bucks most valuable player. Without his superb breakout season the Bucks would be nowhere.
Why not Redd? Well, Redd was a given, but Williams has been the surprise ingredient that has made the pot tasty, despite all of the injuries, despite the frustratingly up-and-down play.
He comes off the bench with firepower, averaging 14 points per game on 45% shooting. He has single handedly won games, at least two of which he won in breathtaking fashion, dropping coldblooded three pointers down at the buzzer.
He has become the Bucks indispensable player. If you doubt that, witness how noncompetitive the Bucks looked against the Heat at home when Williams had to sit out with an injury. Redd had a nice game, but without that second option the team had no chance.
Bogut's doing okay
Don't get down on FC Andrew Bogut. Sure, other rookies are putting up better stats, but he's doing okay, and he will get better. At this point he's just taking what's there for him within the context of the offense, and that in itself is a great sign. As his confidence grows, so will his numbers. Remember, at this point he is playing out of position at power forward. Consequently, he's been asked to guard some of the league's tougher players, a tall task for any rookie, let alone one who is a natural center, and he has -- by and large -- put up a good account of himself.
What to make of Magliore
At the quarter point, C Jamaal Magliore is still a mystery to me. On the one hand, he's a rebounding machine, averaging double figures in that area. His offensive game is also picking up after a hideous start.
On the other hand, if you look at the numbers gathered by 82games.com, the Bucks are a far better team with him on the bench than with him in the game. In fact, he continues to put up the worst numbers -- by far -- of any Buck when it comes to that particular analysis. If you analyze any 100 possessions, the Bucks are 27 points worse off with him on the court. That's a number you simply can't ignore. Its no longer a statistical curiousity, its now a trend that has to be explained.
But that's the problem. Its hard to pinpoint why the results are so disappointing when Magliore is on the floor. The numbers are gloomy on both sides of the ball. Per 100 possessions, the offense is 16 points worse, and the defense gives up 11 more points on average when he is on the court. So he's hurting us on both ends.
I have several completely unproven theories as to what is causing this, but, I'll keep them to myself for now. What I'm going to do instead for my next post is analyze four randomly chosen games on a minute-by-minute basis to try to discern any trends that distinguish the Bucks play with and without Magliore. Hopefully I can find something.