Bucks Diary

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Mo and Bo Show

Deadspin.com once called this blog the "Diary of a Mad Bucks Fan". I guess that's fair. I come across that way sometimes.

But its not intentional. If I rant and get a little irrational, its only because I love the Bucks and want the Green and Red Glory back.

In fact, I greatly prefer to heap praise on the team, which I am about to do.

I cannot tell you how astonished I am that the Bucks are 15-20. They're completely defying the numbers. Sure, the numbers are distorted by so many ugly blow-out losses... but that's sort of an indictment in itself, isn't it? Good teams don't get blown out.

But, to be honest, the Bucks aren't really playing all that well. Or, more specifically, certain Bucks are playing very well (Mo and Bogut) while certain other Bucks are offsetting that with horrible play (Ivey and Charlie V). Thus, their overall net is still in the negative.

What all that means is they're doing enough to beat bad teams, but they will have to do more to compete with the good ones. But, hey... they're winning winnable games, and I like it.

The Atta Boy List

PG Mo Williams: This guy's becoming a mainstay on the Atta Boy list. Should he be the leader of the Bucks? He almost certainly is their "most indispensable" player. And he's making a strong case for himself for Bucks first half MVP. As I said in the last "postgame" post, Mo hasn't had a nonproductive game in quite a while. He's been steady Eddie. And last night was no exception.

In fact, he's been so consistently good, I feel kind of stupid for doubting him earlier this year. Right now I can't say enough good things about him. We always bitch (self included for sure) whenever anyone signs a big contract and then Cadillac's in the productivity department... but Mo's done just the opposite. In fact, he's having the best season of his career, and he's creeping up the list of best point guards in the NBA. If they trade him I'll burn the house down.

C Andrew Bogut: The Bog man is playing beautiful, beautiful, basketball. His numbers in the last three games have been exceptional, and guess what? The Bucks have won all 3 games. Coincident... I don't think so.

And its so easy. He doesn't have to go out and try to score 50 to have a great game. In fact, that would probably be counterproductive, if anything.

I hope he's figured out that all he has to do to make a huge contribution to the Bucks is work to find high percentage shots (layups, dunks... who cares?) and then convert them (note: he should just stop shooting those high degree of difficulty lefthanded shots altogether); the second thing he has to do, and has done, is bare down on his throws (they're more important than I think he thinks... but he's gettin it); and grab about .35 rebounds a minute (he came up short on that one -- he should have had 12, instead he had .21... kind of weak but his other aspects made up for it).

The only reason I harp so much on getting Bogut to .35 rebounds a minute is its so attainable for him. First of all, he doesn't have to rely on his teammates to accomplish it. Second, a center gets like 5 freebies a game. Third, he's a good rebounder. And fourth, and most importantly, rebounding is just "want to". I can't prove this, but I'll be that if Bogut believed his NBA livelihood hinged on his rebounding rate, he could get upwards of .40 per minute. That's a lot of boards, but I'll bet he could do it.

GF Charlie Bell: Ring my bell for the third straight game! Who is this guy, and what has he done with our severly below average sixth man? Ever since that article in Sunday's MJS where Bell said he intended to heat up, guess what? He has! It never happens like that.

I'm just glad he didn't follow Jason Richardson's advice, though. Richardson told Bell to "shoot" his way out of his slump. No, no, no! The proper advice when you're not making shots is take easier shots. Too often guys like Bell think their role on the team is to "shoot" -- regardless of selection or production. That's a warped view. No team needs guys who are willing to shoot. There are plenty of people on every roster who are willing to take shots. Teams need shot makers. There's a big difference.

SF Bobby Simmons: Simba had another poor shooting night, but for once he made up for it by going to the boards with gusto. Thus, he had a good game. He contributed heavily to the win, and he could do that every night.

Its a matter of reordering priorities, both on the court and in the front office. If NBA players were properly compensated according to actual victory contributions, rather than raw scoring numbers, they would take an entirely different approach to the game.

First, they would refrain from taking any 2 point shots they couldn't confidently make more than 50% of the time, and they wouldn't take 3 pointers unless they were confident they could make them at least 35% of the time. They would never, never force shots.

Second, NBA players would have two thoughts on their mind at all times: (1) Go get the ball (rebound or steal) when you're team doesn't have it; and, (2) protect the ball (no turnovers) when it does. Simple points, to be sure, but one's that completely eluded me until recently.

In fact, until recently I had no clue. As stupid as it sounds, I thought assists were much more valuable to a team than steals. Seriously! I thought that.

In fact, its worse than that. I actually looked down on steals. I thought they were signs of "lazy man" defenders. Why? Well, I thought steals were produced either by: (a) guys who played defense with their hands rather than moving their feet; or, (b) guys who drifted around in the passing lanes and didn't really guard anyone. What a naive view.

If you think about it, steals are like interceptions or fumble recoveries in football (except not quite as valuable because of the greater supply of possessions... but still quite valuable). We just don't see it that way in basketball.


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