How Two NBA Scouts Evaluate the Bucks
***Before I start this post, I have to clarify something. A lot of people have been emailing me to ask if the new subtitle to this webzine, "A Bucks Fan's Notes", is an intentional homage to the classic 1968 fictionalized memoir "A Fan's Notes" by Frederick Exley. Indeed it is. My love for the Bucks in someways parallels Exley's profound and yet pathetic love for the New York Football Giants. I only hope to one day express myself as eloquently as he did in that phenomenal book.***
A Couple of Scouts Give Bucks Diary Their Take on the Team
If you're at a basketball game its very easy to spot an advance scout. First, they all carry those ridiculous folders that have the exterior texture of a basketball, and second, they're always overdressed. They're the only ones outside of the luxury boxes who are wearing suits.
At my last game I spotted a couple of scouts sitting together about four rows up from where I was sitting with my girlfriend. I decided to befriend them at halftime and see if I couldn't get some good opinions on the team for my blog. After all, that's how Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packer beat writer Bob McGinn makes a living. So, with the ultimate friendmaker in hand (two cold beers) I approached. No, I didn't tell them I write a Bucks blog, especially one that was once described as "unreadable". I told them I was a sports reporter for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. That paper is recently defunct. Being out-of-towners, they didn't know that. (They did ask me where my credentials were, though. I made up some cock and bull about how I was trying to blend in with the crowd. It worked.)
After successfully establishing myself, I asked the two if they wouldn't mind giving me their professional opinions on each of the top six Bucks. I told them it would be anonymous so they could be blunt. They said sure, and I turned on my dictaphone, and let them pontificate. (For the record, one scout works for a Central Division foe, and the other works for a Western Conference power. I'll just refer to them as Scout 1 and Scout 2). Here are their assessments: spontaneous, raw, and uncensored.
Scout 1: That little fucker is useless. He can't shoot, his decisionmaking blows, he plays zero defense. That adds up to a big liability in a small package. Sure, he can penetrate past some guys but he can't finish against anyone. I don't like midget point guards, period. They kill you in the long run. He's a nice feel good story but I don't like him at all as a player. No game. Mo Williams should start.
Scout 2: I'm not as down on him. If he would just concentrate on setting up his teammates and being careful with the ball, geez, he could be effective. He's a good passer, and he's got exceptional speed, if the Bucks use it he can really be a difference maker. He CAN play defense, let me point that out. He's got the quickness to harass anyone. Thing is, he only wants to every once in a while.
Scout 1: What he does, he does real well. No one in the league is better at creating his own jump shot, or getting it off in confined space. God, he amazes me sometimes the way he gets shots off with no space at all. I guess that weird slingshot release makes it hard to block, kinda like Jamaal Wilkes, remember that guy? OK I said that -- now I have to say his shot selection really sucks. When he's hitting you don't notice, you think he's great, keep shooting... when he's missing he looks selfish and a little out-of-control.... He's average on D. You have to attack him (on defense) to sap his offense.
Scout 2: Ditto with what he said. (Redd) is what he is, you know? I guess I would like to see him develop a little bit more playmaking ability... I can't tell sometimes if he's carrying the team or holding them back with his shot selection... One thing, though, when he gets the ball, if you notice, his teammates will just stagnate. They don't expect to get a pass, so they stop working and just stand around watching Redd twist and turn and launch. They figure, 'He's gonna pump anyways, why the fuck should I bother working off the ball? Its wasted energy.' That's his weakness, and probably the reason he won't make the All-Star team. On defense, he's... ehhh.
Scout 1: He's coming on. He's my favorite Buck. He's a strong guy who's quick enough and shoots well enough to play the 3. The guy's a brick shithouse. I mean, just check him out when he comes back out. That motherfucker is buff. No one's gonna fuck with him, at least no 3 --outside of maybe Artest, but (Artest) would fuck with Mike Tyson he's so nuts... (Simmons) has got such a great looking stroke. Why doesn't he use the goddamn thing more? He needs to get aggressive and stay aggressive on both ends. I mean, lose the conscience kid. You're making the big bucks too you know... Stayin' aggressive -- that's the key to his whole game.
Scout 2: Around December if you would have asked me I would have said "mistake". Now I don't know. I know talking around the league, he's turning some guys (opinions of him) around... He's probably the most complete Buck in terms of playing both ends. I like what I'm seeing lately... I know this much -- all or most of Ford's shots should be going to him, that's for goddamn sure. I'd kick Ford's ass every day until he got the message -- pass to Simmons... He can be deadly from three. Not a bad rebounder either.
Scout 1: He's almost comical sometimes when he's down on the blocks. (Scout 1 makes 3 Stooges noises). His feet are just awful, wouldn't you say? (Scout 1 turns to Scout 2. Both laugh heartily) He thinks the fuckin ball is a fuckin hot potato. I mean -- look at his turnover numbers! Ugly! How does a guy who handles the ball as little as he does have so goddamn many turnovers?... (When defending Magliore) you can either body him and throw his shot off or pull back and throw his balance off. Either way works... He's not a shotblocker, that's for sure, but his D is coming on... I gotta say, he is a great worker and a slithering type rebounder. He wants that goddamn ball and he gets it.
Scout 2: Yeah, those turnovers are unacceptable. I don't like his game at all. He mucks up the middle on offense and frees up the middle on defense. I'd like to know how many of his offensive rebounds are off his own awful misses. He's got NO touch whatsoever. He's just a guy in a jersey as far as I'm concerned.
Scout 1: I love this guy. Smart, unselfish, hardworking, long, good passer, nice touch with both hands. He's got a lot of positives. He's not Bill Walton but he sure ain't Brad Miller either. I like his guts. (F Pau Gasol) swats him easy, then the guy goes right back at him... Nice. I can't wait to see what happens when he really learns this game and adds some strength to his frame... Sometimes his feet look real slow.
Scout 2: Yeah, he's good. I'm not crazy about him, but compared to the centers I've seen this year he's way past serviceable. What I like the most about him is, unlike a lot of big men, his head always seem to be in the game, and he seems to just get it. He knows where to go with the ball, where a lot of 5's are just clods who can barely catch the ball let alone swing it... I really like his rebounding, too... I think they should play him at 5, I really do. He's getting his ass kicked on D playing the 4s in this league. He played 5 in college and you expect him to come into this league and suddenly guard the perimeter? I mean, most college 5's have a hard time just defending the 5 spot when they get to the pros. How can Stotts ask a rookie to play out of position like that? Magliore can do it.
Scout 1: If I didn't know different, I would swear he was the lottery pick and TJ Ford was the middle second rounder... He has arrived, dude. If he can just shake those goddamn injuries he's going to finish this year strong. He can shoot, penetrate, pass, and play D. He's pretty strong too and plenty quick... Why the hell is Ford starting ahead of him? Seriously.
Scout 2: This is Larry Harris' pride and joy. Great signing. Stupid by Utah to let him go. He's better than anything (Utah has) now, and I'm including their big rookie guard... His defense at least looks better than TJ's, I don't know how much more effective it is, though... I kind of like him at 2 better than 1, he's a scorer more than a playmaker. If you look at the stats the Bucks have had a lot of success playing TJ at 1 paired with Mo at the 2 and Redd at the 3. In fact I think their best lineup is Ford-Williams-Redd-Simmons-Bogut. They get their best offense out of that package.
(Teams take the court for second half...)
Scout 1: Oh, hey guy they're ready to go... We gotta get back at it... Thanks for the brew.