Issues and Assumptions re: the 2008-09 Bucks
I am starting to piece together a win-loss preseason guesstimate for the 2008-09 Milwaukee Bucks, but I am having to make a lot more subjective assumptions than I anticipated. I lay most of them out below. I would appreciate thoughts on these issues:
1. Richard Jefferson. Three years ago he produced at elite levels. For the last two seasons, he has not done so. Seemingly (because I don't know specifically what has caused his decline) its because of his ankle injury. Yet, if his ankle were bothering him, why wasn't it reflected in his scoring totals as well? Should I assume he will go back to being the elite player he was? Or should I take the last two seasons as clear evidence of decline?
2. Joe Alexander. The Rookie. I don't expect him to do much good... that will be my working assumption. The question is: how much DAMAGE will the Bucks permit him to do? I'm trying to look to other team for precedent. Last season Brandan Wright played only 300+ minutes, and he was drafted around the same spot (Wright was actually decent... watch for my "2007-08 Rookie Review" coming tomorrow or Friday), but he wasn't drafted by Golden State, and they were a good team, so there was probably little pressure to play him. That will not be the case for Alexander. The Bucks will be -- at best -- mediocre, and they will be under pressure to justify using a lottery pick on Alexander. Will they buckle to that pressure, and how many wins will that cost them?
3. Ramon Sessions. Skiles, in the Dennis Krause interview I saw, never mentioned point guard Ramon Sessions' name. But he kept talking about veteran point guard Luke Ridnour, and how great Ridnour was because he was a "pass first" PG (editorial comment: never mind the damage Ridnour's lack of production did to his teams, I guess he was great because his heart was in the right place.) Ugh. That troubles me. Plus, I get the impression that Skiles sees Sessions as a point guard in the mold of Mo Williams, and if he does that means trouble for Sessions... which I think means trouble for the Bucks because the veterans in front of Sessions (Ridnour and Tyronn Lue) have proven to be pathetic Win Producers, while young Sessions looks like an up and comer.
4. Luc Moute. I think Skiles will like what Moute brings to the party... but how much will he like it? Or rather, how much (politically) will he be allowed to like it? Lets say, for instance, that Moute, because of his defense, turns out to be a much better Win Contributor than Alexander. Would Skiles give Moute the minutes that would traditionally go to Alexander? Wouldn't that make Hammond look stupid? Moute's a real wild card, I guess.
5. Dan Gadzuric. Remember him? Geez, I think he played for the Bucks a couple of... wait, he's still on the team!! Yes indeed, Dan Gad-zur-eeech, the forgotten Buck. Where exactly does he fit this season? I'm going to assume his role will necessarily be limited, but I don't think it will be completely nonexistent (wouldn't they have asked him to go home, like they did Damon Jones?) But it wont be much more than that, I don't think. It was telling that Skiles mentioned backup C/PF Fransico Elson specifically in his Krause interview and never breathed the name Gadzuric. But the Bucks don't have many big men on the roster. Their hand may be forced by circumstance. The question is: how often?
6. Charlie Bell. Same deal as Gadzuric. How does he fit in the New Order? Now, unlike Gadzuric, Bell seems like he could be a Skiles player, but he IS a holdover from the other regime, so that works against him. Plus, he almost has to play shooting guard... probably his most disadvantageous position. He's best (defensively... his offense really hasn't been good for a couple of years) at the point, but where are the minutes there?
7. The Defense. History supports the notion that Skiles can make Turd Soup out of... you know where I'm going... but, how do I reflect that individually? And what will be the magnitude of the "Skiles Effect"? And will the extra energy exerted on defense have a suppressing effect on the offense?
So many issues. Let me know what you think. Either way, I'll have some prediction ready by opening tip. I'd like to do predictions for all 30 teams, but if each team is as tricky as the Bucks have been, it could be hard. But my guess is I will try.