Be excited, Bucks fans... but maintain reason
There is a lot to be excited about with the Milwaukee Bucks 3-2 start. No doubt. But, as Flava Flav says to his hoes, lets "keep it real".
Basketball-reference.com rates NBA teams according to what they call their "Simple Rating System". Its almost the same as "Point Value over Average" -- the system I use -- except it ignores possession data and instead bases its evaluation of each team solely on comparative points scored and points allowed. For that reason, I don't think its quite as accurate a barometer of relative power as PVOA, but its useful nonetheless.
Under the Simple Rating System, the Bucks are ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference and are the lowest ranked +0.500 team in the Association by a wide margin.
That's mainly because the three teams the Bucks defeated so far are near the SRS basement.
Now for the Good News
But far be it from me to totally piss down a Green and Red parade. Here are the reasons Bucks fans can maintain a legitimate aire of "learned optimism":
1. The SRS rankings do not adjust for home and road (as PVOA will do this season!! That's why I've decided to delay my initial rankings by a week... I need a bigger sample set). Yet historically, every team is better on its home court than it is on the road. Therefore the Bucks two road wins ought to be weighted a bit more positively than SRS is willing to do.
2. The Bucks appear to be playing legitimate defense.
3. The Bucks seem to have found another second round gem in Luc Richard Moute. Though I warn you, he will not continue to shoot 80% from the field. He's going to struggle as he learns his way.
4. Ramon Sessions appears to be back on track. I can't prove this, but I will bet dollars to donuts he was an inch away from Skiles oblivion after his shaky preseason. But he got a second chance when Ridnour got hurt and he so far has made the most of it... and that's good news for Bucks fans.
5. Perhaps the Washington Bullets are shorthanded at the moment. But they still have Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, and their roster is still substantially similar to the roster they had last season when they absolutely humiliated the Bucks on the Bucks home court. So that can be counted as improvement.
6. Finally, the Bucks have Scott Skiles and that seems to make a world of difference. That was awesome last night when he gently made the point to Ramon Sessions that he ought not stop playing just because the opposition signals timeout... he must play hard until the timeout is officially granted. Just a small example of Skiles "broken windows" approach to coaching. That approach, I believe, will get the Bucks back where they belong.