The Two Faces of Bango
How do you reconcile the Bucks team that gave no effort two night's ago in yet another blowout loss with the gritty, gutty Bucks team that fought back last night at the BC from 23 down to defeat a Denver Nuggets team that features two maximum dollar scorers (Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson), a bench player who threw in 41 recently (JR Smith), and the NBA's most productive role player (Marcus Camby)? Is it the green uniforms? I don't get it. Why do the Bucks occasionally look great at home and often just don't even try on the road?
Did the light go on for Bogut?
Earlier in the year I said Bogut was a bust. He's not a bust. Andrea Bargnani is a bust. Kwame Brown is a bust. Bogut's a good but not great player.
However, he is never going to be a reliable scorer in the NBA (greater than 0.4 points per minute). He just won't. He doesn't have the game for it... or at least if he did, history shows he would have unveiled it already.
Because of that, if Bogut is going to be a consistently above average professional center, he has to be an efficient scorer (high 50s FG%), and he must be a big rebounder (better than .32 per minute -- right now he's at about .27 per minute).
Last night he was a huge rebounder, grabbing 20 in about 43 minutes of action, a staggering rebound rate of about .44 per minute. And as important as Redd's 42 points were, the Bucks would not have won without Bogut's superlative play on the boards.
If he can grab 20 rebounds against the Nugget frontline of Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby, he can do it against anybody. Get her done.
Maybe Coach K gets it
Coach K had a banner night last night, perhaps the best of his young coaching career. His rotations were near perfect. He rode those few guys he had to ride to give Milwaukee a chance to win, and he recognized early who wasn't producing and got them out of there.
Thus he avoided his bizarre penchant for giving Yi too many minutes at power forward, and he kept the "Buck Killer" Royal Ivey on the bench where he belongs.
And maybe he's decided that if neither Villanueva nor Yi are producing points or rebounds, then instead of just letting them out there to dawdle and destroy the Bucks chances for victory, he will put Gadzuric in at center and move Bogut to power forward. I like that idea.
To make it work, though, Gadzuric must be under three strict rules: (1) No shots, only dunks; (2) Rebound like your life depended on it; and (3) attack any opponent penetration.
Maybe Redd gets it
I never thought it was all that important for Michael Redd to pile up assists. He's not really a playmaker in that way. Sure, if someone is open, Redd should get them the ball. But he doesn't have to suddenly become Larry Bird.
What he has to do more often for the Bucks to be successful is (1) Take and make high percentage shots; (2) Pass up low percentage shots -- do not force shots (that's where his passing comes in), and (3) rebound at the rate he did when he first broke into the Association. Oh, and avoid careless turnovers and play the kind of stellar defense he displayed last night on Iverson.
We need a real power forward
A lot of pundits are saying the Bucks need to be blown up. I can't say that I agree. For one, I'm afraid all that will be left if they "blow the team up" is wreckage, not a better team.
Two, I think we have a couple pieces in place. We're okay at the 1, 2, and 5 positions. What we need desperately however is an authentic power forward, a guy who will rebound and defend the low post. Its impossible to win in this Association relying on players who are basically tall small forwards (Yi and Villanueva). They leave the lane open on D, are too inefficient on offense, and they don't protect the backboards. After all, you can't ask Bogut to grab 20 rebounds every night.
Secondly, we need either a rugged and efficient scoring small forward, or a reliable scoring small forward... a genuine shooter/slasher. When I say rugged small forward, think Ruben Patterson circa last year or Corey Maggette, or the ultimate... Marques Johnson (dream on... although I'm intrigued by the possibility that this Michael Beasley is exactly that, if he is deployed properly).
By a shooter slasher, I mean something like Carmelo Anthony with a little more basket attack and rebounding. That role could actually be filled by Yi if the Bucks would abandon the notion that he is a power forward. I'm going to get into this topic in more detail tomorrow, but I just don't think he will ever rebound and score like a power forward. He doesn't have the instinct, and history says that what you are getting from him now is about what you can expect for his career.
Keep on winning (if you can) Bucks
As I said a couple of posts ago, most of the college players that I think can best help the Bucks will almost certainly be available in the middle of the first round, and most of the ridiculously overvalued bust risks (i.e. Eric "Respert" Gordon, Derrick "The Turnover" Rose, Jerryd "Ben Gordon short" Bayless OJ "Jamal Crawford" Stinko, the assortment of foreign softies who can't put up numbers in the Upper Mongolian League so why should we think they can do it in the NBA, or the big white stiff from Stanford who could be Chris Mihm's clone) will go early, so there is no advantage to the Bucks to lose games... especially after the embarrasing and depressing fiasco that took place last spring. No more cheering for losing.
Besides, if the Bucks can somehow squeak into the playoffs, good for them. They might be able to take a game or two from the Celtics and feel good about themselves going into the summer.