Bucks Diary

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bucks prospects: PF Brandan Wright

The second installment of "Bucks prospects", a look at college players who may end up being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the sixth pick in the draft, focuses on Brandan Wright, the 6'10'', 210 pound PF out of the University of North Carolina.

Upside Comparison: Chris Bosh (of course)
Downside Comparison: Any number of extemely athletic but misfit PFs, including but not limited to former Buck bust Marcus Haislip.

What I like about him: Wright appears to be an extremely athletic PF who possesses a nice baby hook and is extremely "long" (that's all the rage these days -- which makes one wonder why the Bucks parted with a high second round pick for the Tyranosauras Rex named Damir Markota). I've seen his skill level described in various places as "freakish", which is the lazy man's way of saying he can jump high and put down nice dunks, but that he is, alas, still kind of "working on" those pesky fundamentals of basketball.

What scares me about him: Everything. You may think I've lost my mind raising the specter of Haislip with this guy, but hear me out. A lot of people describe Wright as the second coming of Chris Bosh. Well, he better be... Bosh is the only known example of a power forward in the Association who stands 6'10'' tall and weighs only 210 pounds. Bosh is therefore the exception that proves the rule. You generally need physical strength to play the 4. (By the way, any of you regular size Americans who have visited the scales lately, that is not a typo. This guy is nearly seven feet tall and yet somehow only weighs 210 pounds! Paging the welterweight version of Thomas Hearns). Bosh overcomes his physical weakness by utilizing many 3 skills at the 4 position: he can take stronger guys outside or beat them off the dribble. Wright doesn't appear to have those kind of skills. He will be forced to "outathlete" his NBA foes. That's where my Haislip comparison comes in. Haislip, like Wright, is a tremendous athlete. Tall and long. But he is essentially an inside player who wasn't strong enough to establish himself inside. So he got nothing done. Obviously Wright has a much more developed game than Haislip ever had, but he still may run into the same problems as Haislip did. Haislip quickly found out you can't jump over everybody in the NBA, and you have to be somewhat physical to be an effective rebounder. Might Wright discover the same things?

Beyond those difficulties is the practical question. I ask you, exactly how does Wright fit in with the Bucks? We've already got a soft forward masquerading as a power forward and a finesse center. Are we going to draft Wright and then just cede the lane entirely to our opponents? I don't see how it works for Milwaukee. Adding Wright to the current frontline would be like adding marshmallows to Jell-O. Nicer looking, but essentially just squishier.

One final point. You may acknowledge that Wright's lack of strength is going to be a problem for him initially, but you may talk that away by insisting that Wright will "put on weight". Don't you believe it! They never put on weight. Skinny interior players have been saying they will "put on weight" for centuries and it just never happens. Name me one player who has come into the Association as a skinny guy and eventually emerged as a buff professional. Maybe Jermaine O'Neal. Maybe. But beyond that, I can't think of any. But I can name several who came into the Association skinny and stayed essentially the same throughout their careers (Ralph Sampson, Kevin Garnett, Shaun Bradley, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Haislip ).

Bottom line: This guy may be a superstar. He may be the best player in the draft. He may have more upside than Mount Everest. But he may also be just another in a long line of "athletic freaks" who washed out in the NBA because they couldn't find a position to call home (a recent example is Marvin Williams). And, anyway, Wright doesn't appear to fit the Bucks current roster or stated need for more "physical" players. So I just don't see him going to the Bucks.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bucks prospects: PG Mike Conley

This is the first in a series of looks at players the Milwaukee Bucks could draft with their number 6 pick. Today I am focusing on Michael Conley, Jr., the point guard from the Ohio State University.

Upside Comparison: Nate "Tiny" Archibald (Career High Eff48: 35.72)
Downside Comparison: Kenny Anderson (Career High Eff48: 25.13)

What I like about him: Teams with good point guards tend to advance in the playoffs, and Conley is considered by many the best point guard prospect in this draft. It appears as though he could upgrade the Bucks significantly at that key position. I love his lightning quickness and unmatched speed in the open court. I also LOVE his willingness to penetrate the lane (his collegiate FTA/FGA, or "Basket Attack Ratio" was 47%), something Mo Williams (Career BA ratio: 18%) simply will not do. (That's why Williams is generally considered a 2 guard in a point guard's body). I also like the fact that Conley is universally praised for his defensive intensity. A defensively sound PG can really disrupt the other team's offensive flow. Again, that would be a potentially huge upgrade from Mo Williams. I also like the fact that he seems willing to get his teammates involved, and that in the NCAA title game he showed the ability to step up when the bright lights were on him.

What scares me about him: The first thing that scares me is his size. My ideal point guard is and will always be Paul Pressey: 6'5'', physically strong, with long arms, and great penetration skills. Pressey could disrupt anyone on the defensive end, and his drives to the lane opened up the offense. Conley, on the other hand, is listed at 6'1'', 185, meaning he is probably closer to 6'0''. Point guards that size tend to get exploited on the defensive end, no matter how skilled they are at playing defense. Moreover, he wasn't a huge producer in college (Eff48: 24.31) which scares me a bit, making me think his Eff48 productivity ceiling might be closer to Anderson's (mid 20's) than Archibald's (mid 30s). But one year of college doesn't give me much evidence to go on. But it does raise another issue. An historical analysis by Nbadraft.net shows that point guards who come into the Association with less than two years of college experience tend to overwhelmingly fail. Conley has only one year of college experience, so the Bucks would be rolling the dice. Finally, the biggest question mark for me is whether he will continue to show the courage necessary to get in the lane in the Association. There are plenty of examples of small point guards like Conley who were proficient penetrators in college but then transformed themselves into mainly perimeter players in the pros. For example, TJ Ford. He had the same collegiate basket attack ratio at Texas as Conley had at Ohio State (47%), but as soon as he got to the NBA that BA dipped way down (28%). And then there's Brevin Knight. He had an Attack ratio of over (61%) at Stanford; when he got to the NBA it plummeted to under 25%. That happens alot to small point guards. On the other hand, there are the rare examples of little guys who remained fearless: Chris Paul had a collegiate basket attack ratio of over 60% at Wake Forest and he has maintained a high penetration rate in the pros, with a BA of over 48%. And then there is the incomparable Tiny Archibald, who I discuss below. Those type of small point guards, guys who continue to attack the lane when they get to the pros, tend to succeed. The ones who don't have very low ceilings.

Bottom Line on Conley: As I stated above, I think the big thing that will either make Conley the next Kenny Anderson, a lightning quick but ultimately mediocre left handed point guard, or the next Nate "Tiny" Archibald, the greatest little lefty point guard of all-time -- and an NBA Top 50 guy --will be his willingness to penetrate to the basket in the Association. If he comes to the pros and decides to just sit outside and gun, as Anderson did (career Basket Attack ratio: 27%) I think he will be a marginal player at best. If, on the other hand, he emulates the legendary Tiny Archibald and the up-and-coming Chris Paul, and attacks the basket relentlessly (Tiny had a career BA of nearly 49%), he has the chance to be an exceptional point guard at the next level.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Survey of Mock Drafts; re: The Bucks

If the mock drafts on the internet are any indication, this year's draft is going to be a lot of fun. It could fall any of a half dozen ways. Because of that volatility, it may not have mattered whether the Bucks landed in the fourth spot or the sixth. Anyway, here are the instant prognostications of the Bucks choice found around the web:

Survey of Mock Drafts

Dime Magazine: Brandan Wright, PF North Carolina
In picking him to fall to the Bucks, they kind of diss him as a prospect, but say he's got the skills to eventually be a solid low post scorer. They have Mike Conley going to Atlanta, Al Horford to the Griz, and Corey Brewer to the Celts.

Hoopshype: Mike Conley, PG, Ohio State
They compare him favorably to Chris Paul, which I find exciting. Another positive is his defense and playmaking. On the downside is his TJ-like jumpshot. But, point guards matter. Hoopshype has Wright to Atlanta, Horford to Memphis, and Noah to Boston.

Gary Woelfel: Brandan Wright, PF North Carolina
Love him or hate him, Woelfel is the only person I have found who can legitimately call himself a Bucks Insider. And he has Brandan Wright falling to the Bucks at 6. He considers this to be a dream scenario, as he is impressed by Wright's physical ability and length. He sees the scenario unfolding thusly: Conley to Atlanta, Horford to Memphis, and Yi to the Celtics.

Nbadraft.net: Jeff Green, SF Georgetown
Its hard to tell whether they are actually predicting the Bucks to take him at 6, or whether they simply feel he is the sixth best player on the board. Either way, I don't agree. I think the guy is a nice player, but kind of a Jeff Grayer type. They still have Conley and Corey Brewer on the board when the Bucks select, and I would take either of them over Green.

Foxsports.com: Corey Brewer, SF, Florida
Fox thinks Brewer is a good fit for the Bucks at 6. He's a defender first and foremost, with a whole lot of athleticism, but not much offensive skill. To me, he sounds like a taller version of Ruben Patterson... which isn't a bad thing, but it also means he won't light the world on fire. Fox has Wright going to Atlanta, Horford to the Griz, and Green to the Celtics.

SI.com: Conley or Brewer
SI doesn't really have a set mock draft so much as a list of possibilities. They have the Bucks looking primarily at the PG Conley, and secondarily at the athletic wingman Brewer. They think Wright and Horford will fall to Atlanta and Memphis (in no particular order), and that the Celtics are hot for Yi.

Cbssportsline: Julian Wright, SF, Kansas
CBS is high on Wright's upside, saying he has all of the physical tools to be a star. The problem is, I watched him play in the NCAA tournament, and those tools didn't translate to anything. CBS has Horford to Atlanta, Wright to Memphis, and Yi to the Celtics.

Garry Howard, JSonline: Michael Conley, PG, Ohio State
Howard has Horford to Atlanta, Wright to the Griz, and Brewer to the Celts.

Tom Endlund, JSonline: Al Horford, PF, Florida
This is the guy I think Larry Harris is secretly after. But, only and his buddy Charles F. Gardner at JSonline think he will fall far enough for Harris to get his mitts on him. Endlund says the Hawks will get Conley, the Griz will get Brewer, and the Celtics will grab Yi.

Charles F. Gardner, JSonline: Al Horford, PF, Florida
Gardner thinks the Hawks will get Conley, the Griz will take Brewer, and the Celts will select Brandan Wright.

Am I missing something?

Sifting through all of the post lottery fallout, I keep reading newspaper accounts that insinuate that it was not only shocking to see the Bucks fall three spots, but that it was then a further shock to see that BOTH Memphis and Boston also fell. Even Larry Harris implies surprise at this double result. In today's JSonline.com, he is reported to have said that he was "not just shocked that we would fall three spots, but that Memphis and Boston would fall also."

Am I missing something here? If the first result occured (the Bucks dropping 3 spots), the latter result should not have been shocking at all. Am I right? The only possible way the Bucks could have fallen to the sixth spot is if BOTH Memphis and Boston also fell, thereby pushing the Bucks back three spots. If only one or the other or neither fell, then the Bucks could not have been pushed three spots. So as soon as the Bucks card was turned in the sixth spot, I knew instantly that both Memphis and Boston were both knocked out of the top three.

That so many knowledgable basketball people seem not to grasp that simple truth speaks volumes about how arcane the whole lottery process is. And that underlying confusion serves to mask the weakness of the system. The lottery is, as Meyer Lansky would say, a "sucker's bet", and I believe the only reason people can't appreciate that and change it is they really don't get how the process works.

Of course, had the Bucks won, I wouldn't have written any of that. And that's why this lottery, and lotteries in general, are so popular.

6th pick is an historical wasteland

Looking for a difference maker at No. 6? Not likely to happen.

I just went over the list of number 6 picks going back to the Ralph Sampson draft of 1983, and its an absolute wasteland of mediocrity or out-and-out busts.

The best player chosen at sixth over that period of time was, subjectively, Tom Gugliotta. The rest of the choices are a cast of characters that can be called semi-useful players (Kenny Smith, Hersey Hawkins, Stacey King, Antoine Walker, Shane Battier, Chris Kaman, Josh Childress) or out-and-out busts (Russell Cross, Mel Turpin, Joe Kleine, Felton Spencer, Doug Smith, Calbert Chaney, William Bedford, Bryant Reeves, Robert Traylor, Dajuan Wagner, Martell Webster).

Having said that, it must be noted that there have been good players chosen below the sixth pick, and that this is a very unique draft (its the first draft of players affected by the age restriction that was grafted onto the old hardship rule). So we might get lucky. The key will be to chose the best player, not simply a player with size or a player that appears to fit a need. If you notice, most of the worst choices in the 6th slot have been guys who were selected mainly because they were big, not because they were skilled.

In that regard, I am hopeful. Larry Harris has been saying this morning on Milwaukee radio that he will select the best player available, regardless of position. And the Bucks, at full strength, really aren't that far from being a pretty decent team.

Source: databasebasketball.com

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bucks drop like a stone in the lottery

Larry Harris would have been better off just staying in Milwaukee and letting someone kick him in the nuts. Cause that's basically what he got for his visit to New Jersey.

A stone? A fucking lucky stone? That was the Lucky Charm Larry brought to Secaucas? Was that the only submission the Bucks got? I mean, who the hell has ever heard of a lucky stone? As a certain New Jersey resident -- AJ "Its all a big nothing" Soprano -- attempted to demonstrate on last Sunday's episode of The Sopranos, stones are used for sinking yourself to the bottom of something, not for rising up something.

And the Bucks certainly sank. Given the circumstances, they ended up being one of the unluckiest teams in lottery history. I'm sick to my stomach. How could this happen? I could see falling one or two spots, but three! If anyone had been following my Lottery Spins, you would know that the odds of the Bucks falling three spots were astronomically low. Over the course of some 100+ spins, I rarely ever got that result. And yet it happened.

Oh well, life moves on... even in BucksNation. We have the sixth pick, and now Larry Harris has to make the most of it. There's still potential there, but you have to do your homework and get it right.

First, though, I have to deal with my anger over tonight's result before I can even think about what they should do with that pick. All I know for sure is, thanks to that unlucky stone, Larry Harris has his work cut out for him now.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bucks Diary Mock Lottery 2.0

In the run-up to the big NBA lottery on Tuesday night, May 22, in Secaucas, New Jersey, I will be holding a mock lottery each day at noon. The lottery results are generated by me by taking one spin on the ESPN lottery generator and then providing the results. Hopefully it will educate myself and Bucks Fans as to what we might expect to happen on Tuesday night (and maybe that will help take the edge off a little when we're watching the actual lottery).

In my first mock lottery, I came up with the result that would send BucksNation into bedlam (Bucks in 1st). Today I got the more probable (and disappointing) result, with the Bucks slipping one notch to 4th.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bucks Diary Mock Lottery 1.0

From now until the NBA lottery drawing, I will be doing one mock lottery a day at 12 noon each day using the ESPN Lottery generator. Its a one-time spin, no funny results. Below is my first set of results. The winner: The Milwaukee Bucks!! I swear I didn't queer the results... I took one spin and that's what I got. We'll see how the other spins go.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stern and Patrick go Bush and Rather

Did anyone catch the verbal melee between David Stern and Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio? It was as contentious in its own way as the famous shouting match between Dan Rather and George HW Bush on the CBS Evening News. I heard it this afternoon driving in my car. Its easily the most animated I have ever heard the ubercommissioner get. Patrick was sort of baiting him, in much the same way Rather baited HW Bush back in 1989, but I was surprised that Stern took the bait. He's usually analytical and cool. Today he was sarcastic and biting ("Okay Dan, let me make a note of that" he said at one point). Very out of character for Stern. If you haven't heard the exchange, they will apparently play it on Sportscenter tonight. I can't remember it verbatim, and don't want to give you an inaccurate account.

As for the suspension issue itself, everyone's attacking Stern for ruining a great series, but I will come to his defense. The only thing that prevented Horry's hipcheck from becoming an ugly, ugly donnybrook... the only thing... was the threat of suspension brought on by the rule Stern felt compelled to enforce. There's no question about that in my mind.

If you watch the tape, when Stoudamire came off the bench, he wanted a piece of Horry in the worst way. You could see it. Had it not been for the harsh "don't leave the bench" blackletter rule, there is no way in hell those assistant coaches would have been able to hold him back. In fact, the only thing that held him back was his realization (and you can see the moment it occurs in his head because he starts backpedaling) that his actions could cost his team dearly. And they did. And that's why the rule's in place, and why Stern felt he had to uphold it, come what may.

Lizard leaning toward Oden?

Most every NBA draft expert around is predicting that, should the Bucks win the lottery next Tuesday, they will draft Texas F Kevin Durant. Well, as Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend".

Listening to Larry Harris on this morning's D-List on Milwaukee's ESPN Radio 1510 Days/ 1290 Nights, I thought I detected a hint of Oden on his mind. He didn't come out and say he wanted the Ohio State big man, but if you read between the lines of his comments, I think that's the guy he's dreaming of.

Its all speculative on my part, of course. But, on the show, he talked about how they would draft the best player, regardless of their personnel situation; he talked about how Andrew Bogut has proven he can play the four and has expressed a willingness to go back there if necessary; he talked about how San Antonio drafted Tim Duncan when they already had David Robinson; and he talked about how he would have drafted Michael Jordan even though the Blazers already had Clyde Drexler. It all seemed to me like he was laying the groundwork rationale for an Oden pick. BucksFans, we shall... hopefully... see.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Larry's after your Lucky Charms, BucksNation

We are almost officially T minus one week from the lottery drawing that may determine your Milwaukee Bucks destiny. I'm starting to get juiced, and so is the Lizard, I guess. He needs your help, Antlerheads. Pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers... whatever Lucky Charms you got, Larry Harris wants them in full effect on ping-pong night.

I just got a Bucks Fastbreak email saying the team is holding another "Lucky Charm" contest similar to the one they held before the Bogut draft. They are looking for some magical piece of personal property in your possession that you believe will deliver the team the big result we Bucks Fans are all hoping for.

As for the rules, I guess any item will do, so long as it is charmed. (I know on Lottery Night I'll be clutching a rosary my Granny B says she got blessed by the Pope.) I think when we got Bogut the Lucky Charm Larry Harris used was some guy's fishing lure. We may need something stronger this time. I'll get more details on it and forward them to you on this site.

Update: Antlerheads, here's where you can go to submit your Lucky Charm.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bucks Diary posting update

I am currently in hiding due to the absolute embarrasment of having picked the Bulls to win their series with the Pistons in 6 games. It looks like they won't even come close to winning one. Why did I doubt the Pistons? Or is it, why did I trust the Bulls?

Actually, that's only partially true. The truth is I've jumped on the Brewer Bandwagon for the time being and have been posting here. For some reason, I find it hard to jump between the sports, so I usually concentrate on one and neglect the other and right now I'm concentrating on baseball.

But, I haven't forgotten Bango and the Bucks. In fact, I plan to start posting regularly on this site again in the run-up to the big draft lottery.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bulls-Pistons: Another Bull Run

Thus far my system for evaluating the NBA Playoff matchups has worked pretty well, with two exceptions... that can be explained.

The first is the Jazz-Rockets series, where the numbers told me it would be the Jazz in 6. That hasn't worked out exactly, although the numbers have held as I thought they would. The discrepancy is due to the fact that the series has taken on a Yankees-Pirates in 1960 dimension that I could not have foreseen. In other words, the two Jazz victories at home have been blowouts, while the three Rocket victories at home have been close games. Thus the numbers have held perfectly, but the outcomes have skewed toward the Rockets.

The second is the Warriors-Mavericks series, where the numbers told me it would be the Warriors, but common sense, and historical precedent, told me it just had to be the Mavericks. So I went against the numbers and took the Mavs in 7. The numbers have thus far won out, though there is still some basketball left to be played.

Bulls-Pistons Preview

I went into this analysis thinking it would end up in a coin-flip. By the overall numbers, these were the two best teams by far in the Eastern Conference this season.

But when I looked at the head-to-head numbers, it was not that close at all. In fact, the numbers skew as heavily toward Chicago as they did toward each of these two teams in their first round series, both of which ended in sweeps.

This didn't make sense to me. I figured there must have been some games missed by key Pistons. Indeed there was. So I broke each Piston and each Bull performance down individually. The results were the same.

There are five Bulls players among the top 50 most productive Eastern Conference performers against the Pistons this season: Andres Nocioni (in 1 game of extended action), Tyrus Thomas (in 4 games of limited action), PJ Brown (in 4 games of extended action), Luol Deng (in 4 games of extended action), and Ben Gordon (in 4 games of extended action).

Meanwhile, there is only one Piston among the top 50 most productive Eastern Conference performers against the Bulls this season: and that is the long lost Nazr Mohammed (in 2 games of limited action). The only other Piston who has even been decent against the Bulls this season has been Chris Webber (Eff48 of 23.24). The rest of the Pistons formidable cast has been extremely subpar against Chicago.

Prediction: Bulls in 6

Even with all that, I cannot disrespect the cast of characters that make up the Pistons. They have proven their championship mettle. I think on heart alone they will take two games from Chicago. That said, I cannot go against the compelling case made by the numbers, and I have to predict another big series win for Chicago. Thus, I'm saying its the Bulls in 6.