Bucks Diary

Friday, March 31, 2006

Bogut, Wallace, and Detroit's 'Bad Boys'

To set the record straight with the authors of the DetroitBadBoys blog, in a recent post I did not compare Bogut in anyway to the present day Rasheed Wallace. They are not comparable, obviously. I don't think the post even implied that they were, to be fair.

I merely was pointing out that Wallace, in his rookie season, was the same age and had many of the exact same experiences and challenges that Bogut has faced in his rookie season and that he, too, struggled to find his way. That is a fact. I was living in the Washington, DC area during Wallace's rookie season and believe me, he was so awful many wondered if he would ever pan out. The proof of his difficulties: even though he was the 4th pick in the draft, the Bullets foolishly gave up on him and traded him after only one season to the Portland TrailBlazers. Of course, Wallace blossomed after that.

We are hoping Bogut will follow suit.

Pretty good isn't good enough for Bucks

The Bucks showed some playoff mettle tonight but ultimately it meant nothing as they lost to the Detroit Pistons at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, 112-106. On Bob Lanier Night, the Bucks blew leads of 15 and 18 points in this game, but they were leads that you just knew the team couldn't sustain because those leads were built on some of the most incredible, unconscious, circus shooting I've ever seen on a basketball floor, courtesy of Michael Redd, who had a spectacular game, Charlie Bell, who has proven he deserves to start over Ford, and Mo Williams, who looked back in form. These guys were making threes and driving layups with guys right in their grilles. You just knew that kind of shooting couldn't continue.

No, this game was lost upfront. At power forward Rasheed Wallace manhandled rookie Andrew Bogut. At times it appeared Wallace was playing defense against Bogut with a tennis racket in his right hand. Bogut couldn't shoot over him, and wasn't really creative when it came to conjuring some alternative approaches. Thus, he was overwhelmed. Wallace stamped "Return to Sender" on several of Bogut's rather weak shooting efforts. Joe Smith couldn't correct the situation either, as he was completely outplayed by Pistons reserve Antonio McDyess. At the center position, Jamaal Magliore had another awful game, and Dan Gadzuric was no factor at all. At SF, Bobby Simmons looked lost, and had no answer for F Tayshaun Prince, a 44% shooter on the year, who went 10 for 15 tonight. Toni Kukoc turned in another strong performance off the bench, but there's only so much he can do at this stage of his career.

To make matters worse, the 76ers and Bulls both won, reducing the Bucks lead over those two teams to just 2 1/2 and 4 games respectively.

The Bucks played heroically tonight, but moral victories are of absolutely no value at this point.

I Overlooked the Intrinsic Value of the Assist

After long and hard thought I have decided my "CG" formula that I have been pushing on this blog as the be all and end all statistic is flawed. Why? I am convinced it undervalues the assist.

I was doodling around with some career CG numbers and discovered that Charles Barkley's career CG is nearly the same as Michael Jordan's. That's not right. The CG statistic loses all its comparative value if it leads one to conclude that MJ and the Fat Boy are of equal value. They're not.

Barkley was productive, yes, but Jordan's productivity was infinitely more valuable because his passing made his teammates and thus his team better. For instance, he basically made Steve Kerr and BJ Armstrong productive players by providing them wide open looks off his penetration and kick. You can't really say the same about Barkley. So, their numbers should not be considered equal. The guy who adds the passing dimension to my team is, in my mind, more valuable than the guy who merely rebounds and scores.

Another prime example why the assist should be weighted came in the Bucks game the other night: If Toni Kukoc isn't setting Dan Gadzuric up perfectly for those dunk shots against the Suns, then Gadzuric probably would not have scored on those particular occasions. Thus, some of Gadzuric's points were directly reliant on Kukoc. Hence, Kukoc made Gadzuric more productive because of his passing, and that ought to be rewarded accordingly.

Having decided that, I am going to recalibrate my numbers giving a weight of (1)1.5 for every assist. I will feature the Modified CG numbers in the next few days.

Bogut's Rookie Season compared to Rasheed Wallace's

In attempting to fairly judge top pick Andrew Bogut's productivity this year -- which has understandably disappointed some -- I tried to think of a player whose rookie season was the most situationally similar to his. I thought this would provide a level evaluation.

I came up with Detroit Pistons' PF Rasheed Wallace. Why? Because the facts surrounding Wallace's 1995 rookie season with the Washington Bullets were nearly identical to Bogut's rookie season with the Bucks.

Here's what I mean. Both men are 6'11''. Both men came out after their sophomore seasons in college, both men were 21 years old during their rookie seasons, both men played center in college but were forced to adapt to playing power forward in their rookie years, and each played for a mediocre team (Washington was 39-43 during Wallace's rookie campaign) rather than the true bottom feeding team that most high draft picks play for.

So, how do they compare? In terms of overall production, as reflected by each player's rookie CG score, its not even close. Bogut has outperformed Wallace's rookie campaign by a wide margin. (Remember, CG= (Points+Rebounds+Assists+Steals+Blocks) - (FGs Missed + FTs Missed + Turnovers) / Minutes Played x 48. Thus, playing time is of no consequence, its statistics per minute that count.) Here then are their respective rookie scores:

Bogut 24.1

Wallace 18.89

Please note that Wallace had a better PPG (10.1 per game) than Bogut now holds (8.9 per game), but that Wallace was a much poorer percentage shooter, a less productive rebounder, a less proflific passer, and he turned the ball over more per minute played. It should be noted also that Wallace's numbers, as compared to top rookies from other seasons, are rather poor. His age combined with the position change, I would surmise, accounted for his struggles.

Which, then, underscores Bogut's achievement, because he is operating under the very same conditions Wallace operated under. Thus, while Bogut hasn't set the world on fire as one would expect a top draft choice to do, if his age and unique circumstances are taken into account, I'd say he hasn't done half bad. Let's at least see what he does next year. That will be the acid test.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

You knew this was coming

According to ESPN.com, the NBA is going to take action this off-season to ban players from wearing tights under their uniforms. If the list contained in the ESPN.com article is comprehensive, then no other team in the Association will be as effected by the ban as the Milwaukee Bucks. If you look at the list compiled by Paul Lukas (author of the fantastic column "Uniwatch"), the Bucks proudly boast the most tights wearing players in the NBA. A source close to rookie FC Andrew Bogut tells me he has been heard to say he wears the tights because they keep his legs warm.

Its a shame because I believe the tights look was very close to the "Tipping Point". Why do I say this? Well, believe it or not, I saw someone at my Athletic Club playing pick-up basketball in tights. So close.

Blogs for Bucks Fans

Let me recommend the following blogs to all Bucks fans. I have links to all of them on the side. They are all terrific.

1. Bucks View (This guy is hilarious. For example, he calls GM Harris "the Lounge Lizard". Having seen Harris in person at the Bradley Center, the nickname is dead-on).

2. 5 Point Bucks (This guy is a prolific Bucks writer, and he knows his shit. To his credit he has been pushing for more playing time for Gadzuric, and as it turns out he was dead on).

3. Oracle of Cheese (Minnesotan who loves Wisconsin sports. Having lived in Minnesota myself, I can respect a Cheesehead caught in the Land of Lakes).

4. End of the Bench (This guy absolutely crushes me in this article. I loved every word. I almost wet myself laughing when he rightfully called me out for constantly misspelling Terry Stotts' name as "Terri". He was so right! In fact, if you really dig into the blog, you'll find plenty of other egregious misspellings and misnamings (i.e. for some reason I constantly refer to Maurice Williams as "Michael Williams".)

5. Bucks Town (I just found this one. Looks pretty good. Notice how everyone has way better features than me?)

Updated CGs for the Milwaukee Bucks

Here's an update on the season CG numbers for the top 10 contributors on the Milwaukee Bucks roster. CG measures a player's positive contributions per minute played. Its calculated as follows: (Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) - (FGs Missed + FTs Missed + Turnovers) / Minutes Played x 48.

I think this is a far superior measure of a player's worth. Its much more informative than the conventional PPG and RPG numbers. It takes into acccount everything good and bad a player does while he is on the court. That said, here are the top Buck contributors in order: (Check out who's in last place)

J. Smith 26.90

D. Gadzuric 26.44

M. Redd 24.26

A. Bogut 24.13

M. Williams 21.54

J. Magliore 20.69

B. Simmons 19.33

C. Bell 18.96

T. Kukoc 18.60

T. Ford 18.03

If you want to compare the current numbers to numbers computed a few weeks ago, look here.

Kukoc: Return of the Jedi Master

One of the most pleasant surprises of recent times is the resurgence of F Toni Kukoc. In the last four games Coach Stotts, half in desperation, rediscovered him deep down on his roster chart. In turn the old wizard rekindled some of that magic Bulls' fans became so accustomed to during the latter half of their 90s championship run.

His numbers for the last four games have been magnificent. He is averaging 10.8 points and nearly 7 assists per game while making 52% of his field goal attempts. His smart, unselfish play and willingness to find the open man has made the offense hum. After two years of declining CG numbers, he has posted a 31.6 CG over the last four games. CG measures a player's overall positive production per minute on the court. See how his 31.6 compares to the season averages of some of the game's big players, and you realize how brilliant he has been.

But, make no mistake, his contributions to the Milwaukee Bucks go far beyond any mere statistical numbers. Listen to what he told the Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith, and you will understand the essence of this class act:

"I know there will come a day when I have to say goodbye to basketball," Kukoc says. "But I don't feel that way yet. I still feel I can play 15 to 20 minutes every once in a while and help a team. My thing is always the team you play for, trying to make the best of it," Kukoc says. "You don't go out and say, `I want to be traded, I'm not playing.' That shows no loyalty at all. What is the point of that?"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

An Administrative Post

At the request of a helpful reader, I have redesigned this blog, hopefully making it easier to read for the play-off run. Its less busy and the text stands out more. Oh, and I finally fixed the "comment" function, so feel free to leave any comment you want, provided it relates to the Milwaukee Bucks. Please hammer the hell out of me if the spirit moves you, but I don't want to know about your low carb blog or your bisexual blog. This is a blog for hardcore Bucks fans.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

TOTAL Eclipse of the Suns

Even the great Eddie Doucette would have a hard time finding superlatives grandiose enough to properly describe the Milwaukee Bucks 132-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns at the Bradley Center on Tuesday night, so I won't even try. Let's just say it was without doubt the biggest win of the Terry Stotts Era.

Propeled by one of the greatest quarters of basketball in franchise history, the third quarter, a quarter in which they scored a mind-boggling 46 points, the Milwaukee Bucks breathed new life into this season, into their fans, and most importantly, into this writer. Considering the fact that the Bucks trailed at the half to one of the best teams in the Association and a team whom they had lost to in four of their last five meetings in Milwaukee, and considering the fact that the Bucks needed this game in the worst way, the third quarter stands as the best Buck quarter in living memory.

Terrific contributions came from nearly everyone in a Milwaukee jersey (save for Jamaal Magliore). Seven Bucks scored in double figures. The team shot an unheard of 60% from the field, and outrebounded Pheonix by 16. It was a magnificent effort in every way.

Besides the great victory, perhaps Terry Stotts has come around, finally, to the realization that the team is better off with TJ Ford and Jamaal Magliore on the bench and Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric on the floor. Bell started for the injured Ford and recorded a triple double, 19 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds. I'm not saying Bell is the next Oscar Robertson, but the team just seems better off with him on the floor instead of Ford.

Magliore actually played more minutes than Gadzuric, but you wouldn't know it. Gadzuric outworked him in every possible way. This is not the first time he's done so. Everyone pooh-poohs Gadzuric, but the guy produces. Obviously, this game was tailor made to his "gazelle" style, but nonetheless his stat line against Phoenix was incredible: in 15 minutes of action he made 8 out of 10 shots, scored 17 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, blocked 2 shots, and had a steal. In 15 minutes! Wow!

Here's my thinking: Since neither Magliore nor Gadzuric is going to provide much defense in the pivot, why not go with the guy who will give you some offensive punch -- Gadzuric. I'll bet Stotts is going to say that this was a one time thing sitting Magliore, that the pace of the game didn't suit Jamaal's style, but seriously, he needs to think about sitting Magliore and replacing him with DG and Joe Smith. We'll see.

What's important now is that the Bucks turn this victory into a rolling wheel of momentum. If they come out and lay a crap next time they hit the court then this win, as big as it was, will be just a "fart in the wind" to quote Ron Wolf. Let's hope not.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Playoffs Hardly a Lock for Milwaukee

The Bucks hold a four game lead over the 9th place Chicago Bulls in the race to earn an Eastern Conference playoff spot. With only 12 games to play, that lead looks pretty solid, doesn't it? Not exactly and here's why.

During calendar year 2006 the Milwaukee Bucks are 2-15 against teams that currently hold winning records. The two victories came over the Memphis Grizzlies at the Bradley Center and George Karl's Denver Nuggets in Denver. This is ominous for Bucks fans.

Of the 12 games remaining on the schedule, 9 are against teams with winning records, including two against Detroit, and one each against the Phoenix Suns, the Miami Heat and the red hot New Jersey Nets. Things could get very ugly. If 2006 trends continue, the Bucks can be expected to lose 8 of those games. That 4 game lead suddenly doesn't look so secure.

And I wouldn't necessarily count on the Bulls to fold up their tents and allow the Bucks to back in. I watched them pull out an impressive victory yesterday over the Boston Celtics in the Boston Garden. They didn't look like a team that was giving up.

The bottom line is the Bucks will have to earn their way into the 2006 NBA play-offs. They will have to prove they belong by garnering victories over good teams. It won't be easy, but the team has to understand that when it comes to earning a playoff berth, failure is not an option.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bucks Barely Even Have a Second Option

Most good basketball teams have at least three or more reliable scoring options on the floor at any given time. For example, think back to the 80-81 Bucks, a team that won 60 games. They were great because they had a plethora of scoring threats. If they needed a big basket they could confidently turn to: Marques Johnson on the drive or pull-up jumper, Sidney Moncrief posting up or from deep, Bob Lanier with the baby hook, Brian Winters from behind the arc, Junior Bridgeman with the pull-up jumper, or even Pat "Roadblock" Cummings with his bank shots. All of those players shot around or better than 50% from the field, and any one of them was willing and able to step up at any time. That's the definition of a scoring option.

This year the Bucks have only one reliable scoring option: G Michael Redd. And because Redd realizes this he often nullifies his own effectiveness as a scorer by forcing up many, many bad shots. The trouble is, his bad shots are about as likely to go in the basket as anyone else's good shot. In the Celtics game, when it was crunch time, no one would step up offensively. They acted as though the ball was a hand grenade that had its pin pulled. So Redd was forced to take nearly every shot down the stretch. Because the defense was keying on him, the only shots he could get were extremely low percentage. He missed repeatedly. He had a pretty effective shooting night going until that point, but the next morning's box score showed him 7 for 19. Nights like that make you wonder what he would be like with a little help from his friends. But who will step up?

F Bobby Simmons is on the cusp of being the second option but he is not there yet. He is still hesitant. He can't quite shake the subservient mentality of a role player. To do so he has to think aggressively. He has to be ready to attack his defender or launch his shot every time he touches the ball. He has to think "If I see daylight its going up and its going in". Right now you can see him almost thinking "Gee, am I open enough to justify a shot?". That won't get it done. He has to eradicate that thinking before the play-offs.

Even if that does happen, though, two options are not enough to win in the postseason. The Bucks need a third. But who else can realistically become a reliable third option? Magliore is an offensive nightmare (and what the fuck was he doing covering his eyes on that dunk -- that was disgraceful). Plus, he's unreliable down the stretch because he can't make free throws. So count him out. TJ Ford has the confidence, but he doesn't have a consistent jump shot and he often has trouble finishing because of his height. He can't do it. Two months ago I would have said Mo Williams was the man, but he's been starcrossed since the turn of the calendar. Its uncertain whether he will be able to regain his form this season. You can't rely on him. F Andrew Bogut is strictly an "opportunity" scorer at this point in his career. Either he puts back rebounds or finishes layups when his teammates set him up. He doesn't generate any offense of his own. He's not ready. F Joe Smith is a good percentage shooter, but he's so robotic in his moves and slow in the release of his jump shot I just have no confidence in his ability to consistently put up points. The picture looks bleak.

Thus, the Bucks will make the playoffs, but I fear for them when they do. Teams who are offensively challenged tend to get crushed, absolutely crushed, in the post season. And these Bucks are beyond offensively challenged. Did you realize, for instance, that they are scoring fewer points than last year's 30 win team? And that they shoot a lower percentage from the field? Last year's team wasn't exactly the '85 Nuggets on offense either.

Its been tough defense against the league's pondscum teams that has led the Bucks to their winning record. Its admirable that the Bucks are generally beating the teams below them, but that will be cold comfort when they match up against an elite team in the post season.

Then it will be "Michael Redd against the World". Bet heavily on the World.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Time to give Stotts some credit

For most of the season the conventional wisdom in Bucks Nation has been that the Bucks roster is stocked with enough talent to make a serious playoff run. Therefore when things have gone wrong, as they have in the past couple of weeks, the fans -- via talk radio -- have turned on Coach Terri Stotts. Lately the talk has been particularly negative and vicious. But is it deserved? Could it be that Stotts has done a masterful job of making chicken salad out of chicken shit, and that the real blame for any shortcomings ought to fall in the lap of GM Larry Harris? I now think so.

This argument will be tough to sell I know. Stotts doesn't engender popularity under the best of circumstances. Look at the Coach Rating System (or whatever they call it) on Espn.com. Stotts score is way down in the low 30s while coaches with worse records than him are up in the 70s. Its unbelievable. I presume Stotts is so unpopular because or his demeanor and because people think he's got a ton of talent to work with and he's fucking it up. I can't change the first, but people, the second reason is simply untrue.

Before I explain why let me say that up until probably Tuesday I would have sided wholeheartedly with the aforementioned wisdom. In fact, in this blog I loved to take ad hominem shots at Terri Stotts. Well, I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

After doing an analysis of the career CGs of each of the main contributors on the Bucks roster, its clear that Harris gave Stotts precious little to work with. I will now go so far as to say Stotts has done a masterful job getting this team to 30 wins in only 61 games. They should be well below .500 yet Stotts has them in the playoff hunt. Its time he gets credit.

In order to vindicate Stotts I must tarnish Harris. Easy enough. Lets look at his offseason moves. First he gives a six year contract to a guy who has a career CG of 20.21. CG basically is a reflection of how good you are, how productive you are when on the court. It is a cumulation of your positive statistics (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) minus your counterproductive statistics (missed field goals, missed free throws, and turnovers). That number is then divided by the number of minutes you played -- thus putting everyone on an even footing regardless of playing time. Finally, the number is multiplied by 48 for two reasons: 1) To show what the player would do over the course of the game, and 2) because it gives us a workable whole number instead of a fraction.

Anyway, a CG of 20 or below is poor, 20-25 is okay, 25-30 is very good, 30-35 is outstanding, and 35+ is Jordanesque. In order to contend, a team must have a plurality of players in the mid to upper 20s (the Pistons), or it must have at least two or three players in the 30s (the Spurs).

The Bucks starting lineup features two players in the teens (TJ Ford 17.9; Bobby Simmons 18.9) one in the low 20s (Magliore 20.11), and two in the mid-20s (Redd 23.7; Bogut 24.1). Moreover, none of them has even sniffed the upper 20s over the course of an entire season and all of their career CGs are mediocre at best (save Bogut who has not yet established himself). Simmons career CG is 20.4, or three full points below Chicago SF Luol Deng. TJ Ford's career CG is 19. I can't express how unacceptable that is. Consider that PG Jameer Nelson is posting a 23.3 this season. TJ Ford never reached 23.3 in college. Magliore's career CG is 24.2, not bad until you consider that Kent Benson's career CG was 25.6. Kent Benson. Finally, Michael Redd's career CG is almost exactly what his season CG is 23.9. That would be pretty good for a component piece, but Redd is supposedly the cornerstone of the franchise. (Redd's numbers are similar to Andrew Toney's. That should be the role Redd plays on this team. Instead we are asking him to be Dr. J) The cornerstone must, must, must have a CG of at least 29, and max contract guys ought to be up in the low 30s. Redd will never reach either of those levels.

Thus the belief that the Bucks "have the talent" is pure mythology. On most nights they are outgunned at 4 of the 5 starting positions. They are almost always woefully lacking at PG, SF, and C, and they rely on an out-of-place rookie at PF. The bench is not much better either. This is a play-off team? Not in terms of productive talent.

If Terri Stotts gets this unit to the play-offs he should be given the title of Basketball Shaman. The fact that he has kept them in contention for this long is really hard to believe.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Rating the 2005 NBA Rookie Class

Below are the CG numbers for the top 10 picks in the 2005 NBA Draft. CG means "Contribution Gauge", and it basically evaluates a player's positive contributions per 48 minutes played. Thus, playing time is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what the player does while he is on the court. CG is therefore a completely neutral basis upon which to gauge each rookie's productive efficiency and all around game.

The formula for CG is:

(points + rebounds + assists + blocks + steals) - (field goals missed + free throws missed + turnovers) / minutes played x 48.

Thus a high scorer will be punished if he has a low shooting percentage or if he needs a lot of minutes to produce a lot of points. Likewise, one dimensional players will not score as highly as those who have developed better all around productivity. For example, Kobe Bryant's 2005 season, while viewed as historic by many because of his eye-popping scoring outputs, has only produced a 33.2 CG, a number which doesn't even approach the career CG numbers of either Larry Bird (37.2) or Magic Johnson (38.0). In fact, by CG numbers alone, Kevin Garnett is having a much better season (36.4). Sidenote: I will develop a deeper analysis of Garnett's fairly anonymous, yet historically brilliant, season in a later posting.

With those caveats in mind, here are the CG numbers for the Top 10 rookies, from best CG to worst:

1. Chris Paul, G Ok City Hornets 28.8

2. Channing Frye, PF New York Knicks 25.4

3. Andrew Bogut, C Milwaukee Bucks 24.4

4. Charlie Villenueva, PF Toronto Raptors 24.3

5. Ike Diogu, PF Golden State Warriors 22.0

6. Raymond Felton, PG Charlotte Bobcats 18.4

7. Marvin Williams, SF Atlanta Hawks 17.7

8. Andrew Bynum, C Los Angeles Lakers 16.0

9. Deron Williams, PG Utah Jazz 15.9

10. Martell Webster, SG/SF Port Blazers 10.6


While many have focused on the mistake the Hawks made passing over Chris Paul, these numbers suggest that the more egregious mistake may have been made by the Utah Jazz in drafting Deron Williams ahead of Paul. Williams numbers are atrocius; Paul's numbers are better than the career numbers of Isiah Thomas (26.9).

The CG scores also suggest the Portland TrailBlazers may have really, really screwed the pooch. Martell Webster is clearly years away from being a productive NBA player of any kind. Why they drafted him so high will remain a mystery for years to come. Center Andrew Bynum, who on draft day was considered a very long term project when selected at 10 by the Lakers, has been much more impressive when he has gotten on the floor than Webster.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Statistical Proof that TJ Ford Sucks

A lot of fans judge players according to their scoring average, but there's a lot more to winning basketball than scoring. To accurately evaluate a player's performance we need a statistic that rewards every single contribution he makes on the court while somehow penalizing him for all of his detriments. Now we have it. I've hit upon a simple, easy-to-understand, and extremely accurate way to measure and evaluate each player's total performance. I call it the "Contribution Gauge", or "CG". CG is a straightforward analytical tool, not some bizarre calculus equation, so its quite accessible to regular fans. Sidenote: Since my formula is 70% derivative, and since its probably in existence in some other form, I'm not claiming invention, just revelation.

At heart its a sum of all the positive stats a player has accumulated (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks) minus all of his negative stats (missed field goals, missed free throws, turnovers). This is Dean Oliver's "Credits" concept. I was drawn to the "Credit" formula because it recognizes all-around excellence and because it punishes stat-happy "gunners" -- guys who score 40 a night but takes 60 shots to get there. Oliver's concept recognizes that the way a player gets his points affects his value to the team just as much as the points themselves.

So that's the base number. Once I get that, I just divide it by the number of minutes that player has played, and then multiply the result I get by 48. I use "minutes played" because I didn't want to punish a player for lack of playing time -- what I want to analyze is how well he contributes when he gets the chance to play. I decided to multiply by 48 to demonstrate what each player would contribute on average if allowed to play an entire game. That means CG isn't an average necessarily, but because it is based solely on the actual statistics produced by each given player, it is a nearly perfect way to determine a players all-around productivity.

CG Numbers that provide prospective

To start with, let me give you some current season and career CGs so you have a baseline for evaluating the Bucks numbers listed below:

Good, Mediocre, and Bad CGs Produced in 2005-06

Kevin Garnett 36.7
Shawn Marion 34.1
Dwayne Wade 33.8
Dirk Nowitzki 33.1
Kobe Bryant 33.0
LeBron James 32.6
Tim Duncan 32.1
Steve Nash 32.1
Allen Iverson 29.7
Chris Paul 28.8
Pau Gasol 27.9
Carmelo Anthony 26.9
Ray Allen 25.6
Chris Mihm 23.3
Smush Parker 17.1
Deron Williams 15.9
Kwame Brown 15.1
Desmond Mason 12.6
Martell Webster 10.8

Career CGs of some of the Greats:

Magic Johnson 38.0
Larry Bird 37.2
Charles Barkley 36.8
Michael Jordan 36.6
Hakeem Olajuwon 36.5
Bill Walton 35.6
Kevin McHale 31.6
John Stockton 31.4
Isiah Thomas 26.75

CGs for 2005-06 Milwaukee Bucks

Joe Smith 29.3
Notable Comparisons: Pau Gasol 27.9

Dan Gadzuric 25.4
Notable Comparisons: Zaza Pachulia 21.6; Joel Pryzbilla 23.5

Andrew Bogut 24.3
Notable Comparisons: Marvin Williams 17.7; Charlie Frye 25.6; R. Wallace 24.3

Michael Redd 23.9
Notable Comparisons: Paul Pierce 30.7; J. Richardson 24.7; Mike Miller 23.0

Mo Williams 21.6
Notable Comparisons: Sherman Douglas (c) 21.38; Jameer Nelson 23.3

Jamaal Magliore 20.7
Notable Comparisons: Chris Mihm 23.3; Luc Longley (c) 21.6; Randy Bruer (c) 22.8

Bobby Simmons 18.9
Notable Comparisons: K. Van Horn 19.4; Fred Roberts (c) 20.7; Todd Day (c) 19.4

TJ Ford 17.2
Notable Comparisons: Tyrone Lue 19.06; Chris Duhon 18.3; Smush Parker 17.1

Toni Kukoc 16.9

Charlie Bell 16.1

Jiri Welsch 14.7


1) If Terri Stotts wants to keep his job he must immediately remove TJ Ford and Jamaal Magliore from the starting lineup. These numbers show just how awful TJ Ford is. I had to go to the dregs of the NBA's point guards to find any who have CGs as low as his. Chris Duhon, a second round pick, and not highly regarded at that, is outproducing Ford! And Magliore is getting outplayed by stiffs like Chris Mihm and Joel Pryzbilla. Most damning: his numbers this season are below the career numbers of the pathetic Randy Bruer, a man generally regarded as the worst starting center in Bucks history.

2) Dan Gadzuric has clearly produced when given the chance to play. These numbers bear that out. He should take over Magliore's minutes immediately.

3) Bogut has produced nice numbers for a guy playing out of position. As I suspected, he is the most productive player among the starters. One wonders how he would fare at his natural position, center. He should be moved there post haste and paired with the highly productive Joe Smith. I've been saying that for quite sometime and these numbers prove I wasn't blowing smoke.

4) As we all suspected, Michael Redd is overrated. He cried when he wasn't named to the all-star team and Paul Pierce was, but Pierce is so much more productive its silly. Redd is certainly not a maximum contract player. He overshoots, and he is one dimensional. He would be a decent player off the bench for a championship team. He is certainly not a cornerstone to build around. The Bucks made a serious mistake paying him that much money and it may haunt them for years.

5) Overall, these numbers show the Bucks have a serious shortage of productive players. They are getting below average production from the center, point guard, and small forward positions. They will never win a championship with this team. They are going nowhere in the playoffs, even if they manage to back their way in. They must look to revamp this summer. Everyone except Bogut and Mo Williams should be put in play as trade bait. Harris should look to acquire players who have high CGs but aren't highly regarded (in other words -- values), and look to dump those current Bucks players whose reputations around the league seriously out-strip their actual production on the court.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Three reasons the Bucks are in trouble

After years of research and close observation, Dean Oliver, author of the brilliant book Basketball on Paper, created a devastatingly effective way to evaluate a basketball team. Oliver found that the strength of any particular team is revealed in four key areas. In order of importance, those key areas are: (1) Shooting the basketball ; (2) Protecting the basketball; (3) Offensive Rebounding; and (4) Getting to the foul line.

If Oliver's analysis is the truth According to Hoyle (and it appears to be backed up by solid testing), then the Milwaukee Bucks are in trouble. The Bucks are seriously deficient in three of Oliver's Big Four, and they are comparatively awful in the two he considers the most important. Here's what I mean:

Shooting the Ball. Oliver says offense, not defense, wins basketball games. The more proficient a team is at scoring the basketball, he asserts, the more wins they will produce. And the best way to evaluate offensive prowess, says Oliver, is to look at the team's shooting percentage. That's bad news for the Bucks. They are not a good shooting team. Their overall shooting percentage is 44.5%, which ranks 20th in the NBA. Then if you consider "effective" shooting percentages (a statistic which factors in the 3pt shot), the news gets even worse. The Bucks fall to 22nd in the league (48%).

This, unfortunately, seems to be an indictment on Bucks General Manager Larry Harris. Why? Because the Bucks are not so much a bad shooting team as they are a team of bad shooters. If you take into account the career shooting percentages of the 11 Bucks who at one time or another have figured prominently in the rotation, their combined career percentage is just 44.9%. Thus, the players are not really underperforming, they simply have a very low ceiling. Harris must recognize this and rectify it over the off season. Of particular concern should be finding a decent perimeter shooter. As currenlty comprised, the team does not have a perimeter player who shoots over 45%. Ouch.

Protecting the Ball. Oliver says that fans do not appreciate how important it is for a team to take care of the basketball. He says the ability to avoid turnovers (which includes, of course, offensive fouls and violations) is the second most critical factor in winning games. Unfortunately, the Bucks are not good in this area either. Led by the carefree TJ Ford, and the simply awful Jamaal Magliore, the Bucks commit an atrocius 14.3 turnovers per game. That's 22nd in the NBA. Are you seeing a pattern here? This might properly be laid on Terri Stotts. He continues to play guys who show no respect for the value of each possession. Plain and simple. And until he makes it crystal clear that protecting the basketball is a high priority in Milwaukee, I just think the turnovers will continue to happen.

Offensive Rebounding. This might be the team's saving grace... of sorts. They are a pretty effective offensive rebounding unit. When you consider the percentage of offensive rebounds gathered (offensive rebounds + opponents defensive rebounds/ offensive rebounds), the Bucks rank 10th in the Association, gathering 28.5% of the available O boards. By the way, when you look at the first three factors, it really highlights the value of rookie center Andrew Bogut, and really exposes the damage done by center Jamaal Magliore. Bogut is strong in all three areas, while Magliore is awful in the two most important areas, and doesn't do nearly enough make-good work in this area to justify himself to the team.

Free Throws Taken. For whatever reason, the Bucks have not been good at getting to the foul line for many years now. This year they rank 20th in the NBA in free throws attempted at 25.6 per game. What's curious about this is the team is not really a jump shooting team, as I pointed out in my last post. Maybe they are just a little passive when it comes to challenging the other team's interior defenders. Perhaps there is too much falling away on shots rather than powering those shots up. I really don't know.

Overall. The overall picture, as you can guess, is bleak for the Milwaukee Bucks. If you weight the four areas in the manner prescribed by Oliver, the Bucks are the 21st best team in the NBA, or the 11th worst. Obviously then, the team has serious flaws that GM Harris and Coach Stotts must work to rectify. That's why I get nervous when Harris says he 'likes the make-up of the team'. There's not much to like.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Coach, the Bucks ARE NOT a jump shooting team

Last week on the Milwaukee Fox Sports affiliate, Coach Terri Stotts declared the Bucks 'a jump shooting team.'

In fact, the statistics describle a far different team. 60% of the Bucks shots are jump shots (shots taken from 12 feet and out). That is -- in fact -- tied for the second lowest overall jump shot percentage in the Association. The only team with a lower percentage of jump shots taken is the New York Knicks with 58%. Thus, I really don't know what team Coach Stotts is watching. His team is, comparatively speaking, not a jump shooting team at all. The leader of the Clueless Club, ladies and gentleman!

Seriously, its disconcerting that the Coach of the team has such a distorted picture of the team's fundamental essence. Its really hard to explain but, I guess, par for the course in Stottsworld.

What's even more curious than that is the Bucks mediocre FG accuracy percentage. It just doesn't stand to reason. If a team takes shots closer to the basket, shouldn't they make more of those shots? I was always taught to 'work for a better shot.' When the coach said that, it generally didn't mean look for a shot farther out on the perimeter, it meant work the ball inside.

So, if the Bucks work the ball inside more than almost any other team, doesn't logic dictate a higher success rate? Not when you have Jamaal Magliore and his mobile mortar launcher (a.k.a. his shooting arm) in your starting lineup. Logic be damned. That guy could miss a two foot shot by four feet. Remember that old commercial where the sponsor presented a vision of basketball in the future featuring moving baskets? I think, in his mind at least, Magliore is stuck in that commercial. How else can you explain his seeming inability to zero in on the otherwise sedentary basket?

Led by the Magliore, the Bucks have the lowest field goal accuracy on "close" shots in the entire Association. He's not entirely to blame. TJ Ford's inability to finish his drives certainly contributes to the Bucks woefulness. (sidenote: TJ shoots the ball as though he's 6'5'' when he goes down the lane. Against the Bulls he attempted a FINGER ROLL during a crucial possession and Bulls C Tyson Chandler easily sent it to Row 53. Ford needs to go back and look at Tiny Archibald and Calvin Murphy tapes and discover how a smaller player can safely and productively release shots in close. It can be done.)

Footnote: I, and from what I gather most Bucks fans who are not members of the print media, think its time to sit down Magliore and TJ Ford. (Tellingly, virtually every hypothetical trade promulgated on the various Bucks Internet Forums was a package that included those two players.) Come on Coach Stotts: Let's just try the Bogut at 5/ Smith at 4 lineup. Its clear by now that Magliore, and to a lesser extent Ford, are counterproductive forces on the offensive end.