Milwaukee Bucks Final Report Card
Thanks for a great inaugural season, Bucks Nation.
Well, another year has come and gone. Unfortunately, its now 35 years and counting since our last World Championship, and its 31 years and counting since our last trip to the NBA Finals. To put that into perspective, it took the Packers 29 years to get back to the Super Bowl. Remember the eternity that seemed to be? Well, the Bucks have now kept us waiting longer. Think about that for a moment.
He knew the life-long martyrdom, The weariness, the endless pain. Of waiting for something to come. What nevermore would come again.
Anyway... maybe next year, huh? As for this past year gone by, we're left with our memories... and the scars we got from banging our heads against the wall over this team.
Below are Milwaukee Bucks Diary's final grades for the 2005-06 Milwaukee Bucks, aka "Team Frustration". Hope you enjoy and comment on our evaluations. After this post we are going to go dark for a while, but we will certainly have something to say prior to and after the NBA draft, whenever there are any significant news events involving the Bucks, or whenever the spirit moves us. So check back accordingly. Join us again fulltime once the 2006-07 preseason gets started. Thanks again.
Bucks Grades for the 2005-'06 playoff season:
Michael Redd: A-
Its rare that an athlete signs such a lucrative contract and then actually steps up his game, but that's what Redd did. He had a much better year this year than last... Then in the postseason he established himself as one of the elite 2 men in the game with his destruction of Tayshaun Prince's individual defense and Detroit's vaunted team defense... He showed a slashing component that the Pistons couldn't deal with... He got around Prince and Rip Hamilton with startling ease... True he doesn't play defense or pass, but given his record of continual progress I wouldn't be surprised if he improved himself in those areas as well.
TJ Ford: C
His final two weeks along with his playoff performance saved him from a certain "D"... His career seemed dead-in-the-water before he began his shocking renaissance... He showed in Game 4 that, if he had a consistent jumpshot, he could be one of the toughest covers in the game... Unfortunately, he also showed in Games 4 and 5 that he is a defensive liability on the highest order. Once Detroit coach Flip Saunders finally recognized the massive advantage both of his backcourt starters had over Ford, it was series over... Ford needs a shotblocker on the court with him to protect him in the post. Right now the Bucks don't have that.
Jamaal Magliore: D+
This guy was once an All-Star? How did that happen? He had an abysmal year... His offensive shortcomings were startling to behold. He is physically slow and his footwork is awful. He also missed far too many easy, close-range shots, he bricked far too many free throws, he committed way too many turnovers, and he never seemed interested in passing out of the post... Sometimes looked lazy... Harris hilariously damned him with faint praise in a recent Journal-Sentinel interview when he said "he has a skill, clearly he is a guy who has a skill"... get it: "a skill"... Could sometimes defend well, but for a 5 he has no lane presence at all... Time to cut your ties with this guy, Milwaukee. He has reputational value around the association which, given his salary, the Bucks have to cash in on this off-season.
Andrew Bogut: B-
Taking into account the difficult situation he was placed in by the Bucks brass, who moved him to the unfamiliar and elite 4 position, I thought he had an okay season... Its where he goes from here that will define him... On defense, he was asked to guard perimeter players and he really didn't know how, so he was sometimes exploited -- especially by the Rasheed Wallaces of the association. Was helpless against the dreaded "pick and pop" play because his instincts told him to retreat to the lane everytime... On offense, he was rarely placed in advantageous scoring positions, and, consequently, his point production was low... He consistently showed exceptional passing skills, though, which is why next season -- if they do play him at the 5 -- the offense should run through him, ala Bill Walton circa 1977... His legs appeared to get tired and heavy near the end of the season... He clearly wasn't ready for the taxing duties of a 4... He promises that he will add new wrinkles to his game at the World Championships this summer... Look for him to assert himself early next season.
Bobby Simmons: C-
The Bucks needed him to be a viable second option, but he just never stepped up. It was like he was ashamed to assert himself as a scorer... He relies way too much on his jump shot. He's a big, well-built player who could be effective in the post or driving to the basket, if he just had the will... He's in danger of becoming a Tim Thomas stationary jump shooter... Most disconcerting of all, however is the way he disappeared completely in the play-offs, and was thoroughly outperformed by Pistons SF Tayshaun Prince... His defense throughout the season was less than advertised, too... Despite logging more minutes, Simmons' numbers were down across the board... The Bucks have a lot invested in this guy, somebody better give him a "Come to Jesus" talk before next season.
Mo Williams: C+
Mo had a spectacular first month and a half, and then injuries hit and he never regained his form... That alone may be the single biggest cause of the Bucks decline in the second half... Not as quick as TJ, but he's shoots better, he's bigger, and he is not as easily exploited on defense. But for his injuries, he, not TJ, might be regarded as the Bucks PG of the future... His playoff performance was a microcosm of his and the Bucks season -- in the 4 games the Bucks lost he was virtually nonexistent, recording Eff48s of 0.00 in two of them; Yet in the one game they won he was beyond spectacular, going 9 for 10 from the field and recording an incredible Eff48 of 53.42... He was the team barometer all year long, no doubt about that.
Dan Gadzuric: B+
In limited, sporadic duty Gadzuric was his old productive self, recording the highest Eff48 on the team. Why won't they use him more?... He came under criticism from the Milwaukee media for not getting off the bench in the playoffs, but I ask you: who's fault is that? Was he supposed to insert himself?... He isn't the most stout guy in the post, but neither are any of the other bigs on the Bucks roster... He seems to fit Harris' preferred "athletic" model, but, maybe because his game sometimes appears so rudimentary, the coaching staff won't take him seriously as a competitor and thus he is severely underused... He has to improve his foul shooting, though. That is the one area of his game that can legitimately come under harsh criticism.
Toni Kukoc: B-
I probably gave him a higher score than he deserves because I have so much respect for his body of work and his professional approach to basketball... At times he could still conjure a little of that old black magic, and when he did, man was that pretty to watch... He got by most of the year on the many tricks he learned during his momentous career, both offensively and defensively. He is a credit to the game itself... I'm afraid Bucks fans have seen the last of the old master in a Milwaukee uniform, though... Sad really, for I know we will never look upon his like again.
Joe Smith: C
Was injured too often to make much of a difference... When he was in there he was fairly productive, but its clear he has lost a step... He really has no post game to speak of at this point in his career... He relies almost solely on his sssssllllloooooowwwww release jumper... You can go to the Bradley Center men's room and back in the time it takes him to get his shot off... He can still rebound, though, and his effort is always top notch.
Jiri Welsch: F
The Journal Sentinel gave him an "Incomplete" saying he was a victim of too many players and too few minutes... Bullfeathers... The Bucks were desperate for him to step up and be the designated shooter, he just never did... And there's a reason for his lack of playing time -- he didn't deserve any... He's actually a victim of his own obvious deficiencies and lack of NBA level skills... With his performance this season he may have played himself out of the association and back to Europe for good... He really has no role in this man's league... The one thing he was supposed to be able to do -- shoot -- he has proven he simply can't do. And the things we knew he couldn't do: defend, dribble, pass... well, its piling on now... He worked hard, he just has never shown that he can get anything done.
Terri Stotts: C+
I admire him for getting the most out of a flawed roster, but I must also recognize some of his glaring mistakes, too. A coach has to have his troops ready to play every night -- or at least for big games -- and too often he didn't have the Bucks ready at all... Witness some of the stretch games, and Game 5 of the Piston series when the Bucks basically phoned it in... He also underutilized Gadzuric and couldn't seem to define the roles of each player... That said, he was handed a team with holes all over the place and he somehow crafted them into a borderline playoff unit that improved by ten games... Getting into the play-offs undoubtedly saved his job, but next year he needs to step up and act as though he has some kind of plan.
Larry Harris: B
Half of me says the guy overspent so flagrantly that he screwed up our entire salary structure. The other half of me says he has to pay a premium to get players to come to Milwaukee, and that's what he did... He may have overpaid for Redd, though that may not be so clear anymore... He may also have missed on Simmons, but the jury is still out... He has shown an uncanny knack for uncovering hidden gems (Mo Williams, Charlie Bell, etc.), a trait that is hypervaluable in a small market like Milwaukee... I also love the fact that he never seems willing to stand pat, and he sees things as they are (ie -- he sees the flaws in TJ's game, and he realizes the need to jettison Magliore)... Plus, he's forever willing to pull out his toolbox and get to work on the dysfunctional parts of the team. That's what I want in a GM.
Well, that's all from Milwaukee Bucks Diary for the '05-'06 season. Wish it could have been a championship year, but hey... Until we meet again, keep the faith Antlerheads! Enjoy the summer!