Bucks Diary

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Weekly Buck Points Volume I

This is the first in my weekly series of postings I will be putting up every Sunday or Monday for the next couple of weeks. Beginning with training camp on October 1st, when the action starts to heat up, I will begin daily postings.

Bogut Comes on Strong Against Team USA

Bucks C Andrew Bogut struggled early in the World Championships, but certainly came on late. He had his very best game against the very best competition, Team USA. In that game he posted an impressive Eff48 of 32.23, his highest production of the tournament. The game actually had another bright spot for Antlerheads -- the Aussies lost. That means Bogut can rest his tired, and sometimes heavy-looking, legs. He looked a bit worn down at times. Its to be expected. He had a long NBA rookie season, followed by a very active off-season on the international scene. Time for him to get tanned, rested, and ready for the coming NBA campaign.

The World favors Havlicek Ball... will the '06-'07 Bucks?

If you ever watch the NBA All-Star games from the 1970s, the ones that feature players like Jerry West, Rick Barry, Dave Bing, Doug Collins, Walt Frazier, and John Havlicek, its obvious they played a radically different style of basketball than the Association does today. Their style was "cut-pass-shoot" motion basketball, whereas the NBA of today is ruled by the hegemonic "clear out" isolation game. Both styles are on display at the World Championships... the World plays old school, Team USA sticks to the new.

I think the old style may be more effective -- its certainly more pleasing to watch. Sure, there aren't as many dunks or streetball type one-on-one moves, but there is much more energy, much less standing around, and much more respect for the pass. The entire team stays more actively involved on offense, which leads to a more balanced attack.

If Team USA loses, it won't be because the World has matched their talent (the gap is still quite wide) it will be because they play a more effective style. And given the makeup of the Bucks roster, I have a sneaking suspicion the boys in Red and Green might be playing Havlicek ball themselves. Turn back the clock.

The Coming Storm

Sooner or later the Bucks and the Milwaukee community have to resolve the Bradley Center issue. The Bucks have long contended that they cannot survive on the revenue generated by the BC, and I tend to think they are right. The question is: what is the alternative? A new facility would solve the problem, but where is the money for that going to come from? I doubt it will be the taxpayers, that well was effectively dried up by the Brewers and Packers. It will have to come from Corporate Milwaukee in partnership with the team. It better happen soon. If it doesn't, the Bucks may be on the move.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Posting Schedule

Originally I intended to post in the offseason only as events warranted. Then Larry Harris started cooking up his strange brew. Interest in the Bucks skyrocketed. So I changed my mind and tried to serve BucksNation by posting as frequently as possible. Readership took off, so I tried my best to keep finding topics to write about.

But let's face it, for the past couple of weeks I've been straining to produce anything readable about the Bucks... because nothing has been happening at all! And nothing is likely to until training camp starts on October 1. So I've made an executive decision. From here until October 1st, when training camp begins, I will be posting on a weekly basis. The weekly posts will be up every Monday morning.

Then, on October 1st, I will begin posting on a DAILY basis. Yes, daily. So, if you the reader have temporarily lost interest in the Bucks, as I have to admit I have, then take a break, recharge your Bucks batteries, check in on Mondays, and then come back and read the Diary on a daily basis beginning in October. I'll have enough material built up by then to hopefully keep BucksNation going through training camp and into the season.

And this should be a VERY interesting season, Antlerheads.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bucks small forwards vs. the average NBA small forward

I am in the middle of doing a statistical analysis of the 31 NBA small forwards who saw the most playing time last season. I am ranking them in 9 seperate categories: defensive field goal % (dFG), offensive field goal % (eFG), offensive field goal % on jumpers only (jump eFG), offensive field goal % on close shots only (close eFG), Basket attack % (FTA/FGA), 82games Passer Rating (Pass), 82games Rebounder rating (Reb), 82games Ballhandler rating (Ball), and productive efficiency per 48 minutes of play (Eff48). I then plan to take the sum total of each player's ranking (from 1st to 31st) in each of the categories and then assign each player an overall ranking beginning with the player who had the lowest cumulative score.

I have so far calculated an average score in each of the nine categories, and, since this is a Milwaukee Bucks blog, I initially compared the numbers produced by the Bucks two primary small forwards (Simmons and Patterson) against those NBA averages to see how the Bucks stack up.

The results were somewhat mixed, with Patterson doing better overall.

Grading Simmons and Patterson

Bobby Simmons was below average in 6 of the 9 categories. Simmons graded out as a poor defender, an an above average shooter, an outstanding jump shooter, a poor finisher in close, a poor player at attacking the basket, a slightly above average passer, a below average rebounder, a slightly below average ballhandler, and a below average efficient producer.

Newly acquired Ruben Patterson fared a little bit better. He was below average in only 4 of the 9 categories. Patterson graded out as an above average defender, an above average shooter, a very poor jump shooter, an above average finisher in close, an above average player at attacking the basket, an average passer, a slightly below average rebounder, a below average ballhandler, and a below average efficient producer.

Here are the numbers:

Average NBA Small Forward

dFG: ...........................48.0%
eFG: ...........................47.6%
Jump eFG: .....................42.0%
Close eFG: ......................59.3%
BA: ..............................29.7%
Pass: ............................3.4
Reb: .............................17.1
Ball: ..............................12.7
Eff48: ...........................21.4

Bobby Simmons

Jump eFG:......................51.9%(+9.9)
Close eFG:.......................51.4%(-7.9)

Ruben Patterson

Jump eFG:........................28.4%(-13.6)
Close eFG:.........................64.2%(+4.9)
Pass:................................3.4 (+0.1)

Footnote: Patterson's numbers, except for his Eff48, come from 04-05, the last season he spent entirely with one team. It would have been extremely difficult to compilate his numbers accurately otherwise.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bogut struggles; Ilyasova succeeds

Two Milwaukee Bucks participating in the FIBA World Championships in Japan are having decidedly different experiences thus far in the Land of the Rising Sun. C Andrew Bogut has struggled mightily for Team Australia, while F Ersan Ilyasova has flourished for his native Turkey.

In his first two games, Bogut has registered a pitiful Eff48 of 10.44. He is rebounding well, but he is shooting poorly from the field (37.7%), and the foul line (50%). The foul line struggles we expect, the field goal struggles we do not. To be fair, though, the international game is not friendly to centers, with its widened lane and strong emphasis on perimeter play. So I wouldn't read too much into this.

On the other hand, the international game is well-suited to players like the 6'9'' Ilyasova, and he has shined. In his two games, the young Turk has an Eff48 of 26.10, is fourth among all forwards in scoring, and has been shooting the lights out from behind the international 3 point line (71.4%). If his performances at the World Championships are a fair indication of what to expect, then we can say this much. He is an excellent outside shooter, he struggles a bit from close range (40% on 2 point shots), he rebounds not so much (1 rpg), and he passes rarely (1 apg). But, on a team designed by GM Larry Harris to be lethal from the perimeter, he looks like a great fit.

Footnote: It should be noted that Ilyasova was an acceptable rebounder for his NBDL Tulsa 66ers squad, averaging 7 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per game. That meets the old 'one rebound every 4 minutes' standard favored by NBA scouts.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Bucks new uniforms revealed in video game

Ok, this is it. The vid captures you see below are an actual rock solid side peek at the new Bucks road uniforms. They come, apparently, from the new NBA 2007 video game. (All credit to a gentleman with the name/handle of "Spike Spiegler" who posted these pics in a Bucks chatroom.)

My opinion? I think these uniforms are a welcome return to the past. I love them. Of course I have been much more enthusiastic about the whole switch to red than the average citizen of BucksNation, I admit. Why? Two reasons, I guess. (1) I just always loved the original traveling greens with red piping and hated, hated, hated the traveling purples. Loathed them; and, (2) Pure superstition: Prior to banishing their original green-red color combination for the awful green-lime concoction in 1988, the Bucks had experienced nearly 20 years of almost continuous glory -- a spectacular period of excellence. And since then the Bucks have experienced almost continuous misery. You feel me? Maybe the magic will return.

Anyway, here are Spike's captures. They are a little murky, but I think you can get a strong sense of the color scheme you're going to see come November 1, if not the full lettering or overall design.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bucks new hardwood...very cool

Here it is Antlerheads... the new hardwood floor (or at least a vision of the new floor) that will grace the home of your Milwaukee Bucks --

Ha leads Korea to narrow 53 point loss

Too bad the Bucks don't have Team Lithuania on next year's schedule. Their lowly-touted reserve big man Ha Seung-Jin (or Seung Jin-ha as the People's Daily refers to him) blew up for 20 points against them. However, when matched against actual NBA competition, he produced zero points and three rebounds in 12 minutes of action as his team, South Korea, suffered their worst defeat since North Korea nearly drove them out of the Pusan perimeter and into the Sea of Japan, 116-63 to Team USA last night.

The night was not a complete disaster for Ha Seung-Jin, however. He could take solace in the fact that he was not "Frederic Weised" by anyone on the high-flying American squad. Small victories are what keep him going.

The Bucks new script

Chris Creamer has on his website the new scripts that will be used by the Milwaukee Bucks. Here I have combined the two together. On Creamer's site they are seperate: (1) "Milwaukee" and (2) "Bucks".

How they will be used, I don't know (I'm through speculating on the team's new look). It is interesting, though, that the team has put out a script saying "Milwaukee". They really haven't used "Milwaukee" script on anything for years. I don't even think they have had such a script (somebody correct me if I'm wrong about the last two statements).

Does the new script mean they will go back to using the city designation on their road jerseys as they last did here? As I've stated before, I love those jerseys, so to me that would be a welcome homage to the past.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bucks to reveal rendition of new home court

Antlerheads, set your personal planners to beep at noon tomorrow. That's when the Bucks will be revealing a rendition of the new court you will see at the Bradley Center next winter. Its actually going to be their practice court out in St. Francis, Wisconsin, but they promise it will give an authentic glimpse at the way their main court will be designed. The unveiling will take place on bucks.com.

Sources tell me the look will be very similar to the artsy-fartsy blue and gold MECCA design... kidding, kidding.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

TrueHoop's Abbott: "Blake has great future"

Henry Abbott is the author of one of the very best basketball blogs, TrueHoop. He also happens to be a Portland TrailBlazer fan. Naturally, he had an opinion on the recent Milwaukee-Portland trade and he outlined it in a recent interview with si.com.

Basically Abbott indicated that he liked the deal from Portland's perspective, but he seemed to really regret losing Blake. He went so far as to say that Blake had a "great future", and he even expressed hope that Blake would return to Portland next summer as a free agent.

Reading that had an impact on me. Abbott does not offer opinions on players without some forethought and consideration. So I was extremely encouraged by his positive view of Blake's game. That endorsement and others I have unturned has convinced me Blake will indeed make a fine addition to the Red and Green.

As a matter of fact, I am excited to see how the entire Harris experimental mix turns out. I can't wait for November.

Footnote: In the same si.com interview, Abbott said that after the Bucks-Blazer made their trade he reviewed a good deal of film on Magliore. He reports he was "horrified" at what he saw. I told you he knew his basketball.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Kobe Stopper is a Buck

In yet another step in his radical makeover of the Milwaukee Bucks roster, Larry Harris shored up the Bucks obvious need for a defensive swingman by acquiring the self-proclaimed "Kobe Stopper", Ruben Patterson, from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for the old warhorse Joe Smith.

While Smith's rebounding and moxy will be missed, he was breaking down, and Patterson's athleticism, defense, and willingness to attack the basket will be a welcome addition for the Antlerheads. Patterson is essentially everything that Desmond Mason once was. He has no outside jump shot, but, unlike Mason, he accepts this limitation and tries to compensate for it by making most all of his offensive moves off the dribble and into the lane. Thus, while Mason's eFG% blows chow and always has, Patterson's is well above 50%.

One problem Patterson must shore up, however, is his absolute lack of respect for ball possession. His Ballhandler rating is very low for a perimeter player, and he turns the ball over at a pace that mirrors former Buck TJ Ford (4.2/48min). Basically, his handle is pretty weak.

The other thing that concerns me at this point is that the Bucks series of moves this off-season has essentially gutted their one obvious strength from last season: rebounding. Simmons and Villanueva will have to make a concerted effort to clean the glass next season, or it will effectively be Bogut against the world.

Here is a run down of some important statistics regarding Mr. Patterson.

Ruben Patterson 6'5 1/2'' swingman

eFG: ...................................54.5%
eFG on Jumpers....................26.1%
eFG on Inside shots.................64.6%
Basket Attack%(FTA/FGA).................36.0%
Defensive eFG...........................49.0% (46.2% at SF)
Ballhandler Rating....................11.3
Passer Rating...........................5.3

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bucks will miss TJ Ford in the clutch

Say this for former Bucks point guard TJ Ford -- he was prime time. In the clutch -- which 82games.com defines as the final five minutes of a game in which neither team leads by more than 5 points -- TJ Ford's offensive numbers improved drastically. By contrast, both Mo Williams' and Charlie Bell's numbers declined in similar situations. Steve Blake's stayed about the same, although I question how many tight games the Blazers actually played last year.

Anyway, back to Ford. Why did his numbers go up in those situations? Simple. On offense, he forced the penetration rather than settling for those ridiculous mortar rounds he fires up too often under other circumstances. And he drove to the hoop with more purpose, finishing much more effectively, in fact, raising his inside eFG from a below par 47.7% to a robust 70.5%. He also handled the ball like it had value, raising his "Ballhandler rating" from 19.7 up to 25.4 in such situations. Generally speaking, he tightened up his game.

And it wasn't just the big regular season moments where he was superior. Ford also decisively outplayed both Williams and Bell in the playoffs, save for the one game Mo decided to show up, Game 3, in which, coincidentally, the Bucks won easily. What does this all say?

First, its a bit troubling that Williams and Bell show signs of being shrinking violets. But, more to the point, it explains why Bucks fans grew so frustrated with Mr. Ford. You could see so much potential in those brief moments of brilliance, but then, when the game was not on the line, he played without discipline and often without intelligence. He shot too many jumpers. He made too many ill-advised passes. He was lazy on defense. In short, he seemed to play very "loose" basketball (to borrow a tennis phrase) for most parts of most games, and that really hurt the Bucks.

I predict he will come out blazing next year, at least initially, for his new team, the Toronto Raptors. Why? He will be focused and he will play with a purpose. He will look like a new model Ford. Then, as things become more mundane, he will revert to the old TJ, and his numbers will level off drastically from there on in.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Is Bogut an underrated defender?

To the naked eye, Bucks C Andrew Bogut appeared at times overwhelmed on the defensive end of the floor. He was, after all, playing out of position at PF the majority of the season. But the statistics actually tell a different tale.

In terms of Defensive eFG% and onfloor/offfloor numbers, Bogut was a very solid defender. At the PF position he allowed his cover an eFG of only 47.8%, putting him easily in the upper echelon of the NBA at that position. At the C position he was only a bit worse (and this is to be expected since centers generally take only inside shots) at 49.3%. Moreover, when he was on the court, the Bucks allowed an average of only 105.2 points per 100 possessions to their opponents, whereas when he was off the court the average rose to 113.3 points. A staggering difference.

Certainly the rookie struggled with particular match-ups, but those generally involved perimeter PF's like Detroit's Rasheed Wallace. And even that was not the rule. Recall the stunning defensive work he turned in against Wunderkind PF Dirk Nowitzki at the Bradley Center. According to Del Harris, the Mavericks coaching staff was shocked at the level of competence exhibited by the big Aussie. They thought the Big Deutsche would eat the Kiwi for lunch. Didn't happen.

And remember this -- next year Bogut won't have to worry about guarding the perimeter (save for the Brad Millers of the world). Thus, I'm really interested to see how he will do as a defender in his sophomore campaign.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Blake struggled mightily vs. Central Division

Here's one you can file under the category of "Bad Omens". Newly acquired Bucks PG Steve Blake played his worst basketball last year against the Central Division.

His Eff48 against the Central Division in 2005-06 was a measly 11.44, by far his worst production against any division in the NBA. And if you remove the Bucks from the equation, his Eff48 sinks to 10.74.

The only team in the division he played well against was the woeful point guard rotation of the Cleveland Cavaliers, against whom he registered a pretty respectable Eff48 of 22.28. Of course, based on that, you can guess how badly he stunk against the rest of the division. Granted, Indiana, Chicago, and Detroit feature three of the toughest defenses in the association, but, unfortunately, they are also three defenses the Bucks will face often and must be successful against. And Blake has not been, to say the least.

Here are the ugly numbers he compiled in toto last season vs. Indiana, Chicago, and Detroit:

4 games, 85 Mins Played, 0-11 FGs, 6-8 FTs, 6 Pts, 6 Rebs, 7 Ass, 5 TOs, 2 Stls, 0 Blks

Needless to say, those numbers need to improve drastically if the Bucks are to have any success against advancing in the Central Division next season.