Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lots of Bad and Some Good

Here is the bad and good (in the opinion of yours truly) from Timberwolves at Bucks:

Bad: Big Ers can't shoot.  Maybe he's injured and maybe it's just a temporary lull in confidence.  Either way, it's tough to see him as a rotation guy on a good team if he can't hit a shot.

Bad: Speaking of lulls in confidence, Larry has reverted to his 2012 form.  On defense he's too afraid of fouling or getting out of position.  He's no longer the active guy he was in one-on-one or team defense.  It seems that his attempts to develop an offensive game are hurting the areas that he used to be great at.

Good: O.J. Mayo can shoot.  If the Bucks had better offensive players around him, O.J. would be a solid 3-and-D guy.

Good: Giannis Antetokoumnpo.  His D stinks and I worry if he'll ever be a great finisher at the rim and you never know for sure how a young player will develop.  But there are signs that he could be one of the top players in the league.

Bad: The lack of organization.  Coach Drew can say that it's an execution problem (i.e. not a coaching/strategy/planning problem), but something has to change.  The Wolves knew what they were doing and the Bucks didn't.  I had flashbacks to the Krystkowiak era.

Good: Miro (or is it Slava?) Raduljica.  He could be an effective backup thug, possibly allowing the Bucks to move or bench Pachulia.

Bad: Good Brandon as point guard.  He has difficulty passing and making good decisions.

Good: Good Brandon as a third guard.  He can get to the rim and he is a good enough athlete to potentially play great defense.

Bad: The rest of the point guard situation.  I'm racking my brain for a worse crew of point guards.  I'm not talking in the 2014 NBA season, because the Bucks have that (dis)honor locked up.  I'm talking in this century.  I guess the Smush Parker era of the Lakers was worse.

Good: Middleton as a solid bench scorer.  It's making me happy about trading Bad Brandon.

I'll be at the Bucks at Lakers game on December 31.  Hopefully things will be better there.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2014 Bucks Forest at the Holidays

It's no fun to be in last place.  I know that a large segment of the internet contingent of Bucks fans wanted the team to be where it is now, but even those types would have to admit that this stinks.  The players look beyond unhappy.  Several were laughing on the bench towards the end of last night's loss in Brooklyn.  Jon Gruden may hate that mentality, but it's normal.  When things are so bad and hope is so remote, it's only natural to attempt to find humor in suffering.

Tonight the Fortress on Fourth hosts the Timberwolves and yours truly will be in the house for the third time this season.  In what will hopefully become an annual holiday tradition, a group of us who frequent The Highbury (a soccer bar in Bay View) will root on the Bucks from section 220.  Attending Bucks games is always a treat, and the chance to beat an aspiring playoff team who are led by a UCLA guy and a burly Slav with dinosaur arms adds some extra spice to the night.

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This season sees the Bucks in an odd position.  Thus far they've been the worst team in the NBA (called the "medical marijuana" of the league by the esteemed Peter Vecsey for their ability to cure other teams' ills), but they are also still in the playoff race.

A quick look at the standings sees the Bulls, Nets and Knicks as the likeliest candidates to grab the 8th seed in the East.  Those teams have only 5, 4 and 3 more wins than the Bucks, respectively.  The Bucks have 53 more games to make up those wins.  The playoffs are possible.  Ersan could get healthy.  Larry could shake off the sluggishness he showed in Brooklyn (which was largely responsible for his six fouls in 22 minutes).  Delfino should come back.  A decent backup point guard could be acquired.  (With apologies to Luke and Nate, there have got to be a dozen little guys playing in various other leagues that would stop opposing teams from having such an easy time of it at the point of attack.)  This team could gel around a rotation that looks something like this:

Point: Good Brandon (B. Jennings has been relegated to Bad Brandon status)

Wings: Giannis & Middleton

Bigs: Big Ers & Larry

Subs (hopefully "Nuclear Subs", as coined by Mr. Vecsey): Henson, O.J., Delfino, <backup point>

That rotation can go 29-24 the rest of the way; finishing 35-47.  Can the Bulls go 25-30 without Rose?  Or the Nets 26-27?  Can the Knicks go above .500 (27-26)?  That's what those teams would have to do to best 35 wins.  The playoffs are a possibility if injuries and luck and camaraderie fall the Bucks' way.

Talk of another 8th seed rubs a lot of online-dwelling Bucks fans the wrong way.  They believe it will harm the prospects for the long term roster.  I prefer to have some fun this season.  And to make Milwaukee a more attractive destination for NBA players.  And, most importantly, to see if a Good Brandon/Giannis/Larry has the potential that I think they might.  Hopefully tonight will be the beginning of that journey.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Great Idea! (Just Make Sure the Regular Season Counts)

Soon-to-be NBA Commish Adam Silver got on some kind of radio that I don't subscribe to and said that the NBA will look into abolishing divisions and indentured servitude.  Great!  I love it!

I also have a few demands requests:

1) Give the Conference Championship to the regular season champions

The NBA has long had the problem of everyone caring about the playoffs and (close enough to) nobody (for a #HotSportsTake) caring about the regular season.  Let's change that.  Let's have two big ol' 15-team (or maybe 16 team someday soon?) conferences and let's let the regular season champion of each conference hang a banner (unless they're the Lakers) and get a trophy.  The playoff champion of each conference goes to the Finals anyway.  Do they really need the trophy and banner?  Give it to the team with the top record in the regular season.  Maybe the fans will care a little bit more about those games in February (but probably not).

2) Add four games to the schedule

There are 14 fellow conference-ites (conference-ians? conferenos?) for every team.  14 x 4 = 56 conference games.

There are 15 non-conference-ites.  15 x 2 = 30 non-conference games.

56 + 30 = 86 games and 86 ain't that much more than 82.  I don't care how you do it.  Start the season in October.  End the Finals the day before the draft.  I don't care.  Four more games = about 10 extra days of season.  There's got to be a way.

3) Enact Bill Simmons's "Entertaining As Hell" tournament

The Sports Guy has had a lot of great ideas in his day, but this one is the best.  Cut the playoffs off at 7 teams per conference and give the 8th seed to the winner of a March Madness-style tournament.

Yes, this might've screwed the Bucks last season.  They'd have been the top seed of Entertaining As Hell (I'm gonna exclude "tournament" so it sounds like a WWE pay-per-view.  "John Cena is facing Randy Orton at Hell In A Cell" just like "the Bucks are the top seed of Entertaining As Hell") and they probably would've lost their playoff seed.

Or they wouldn't have!  Maybe they would've ran through the Magic, Bullets and Raps like a hot knife through butter!  Maybe they would've come together and played like they did when they beat the Heat during the regular season!  Maybe they would've won the I-94 series against the Bulls.  Maybe Larry Sanders would've punched out David West in the East Finals.  Maybe the Spurs would be the defending champs.  That could've happened.  But we were robbed of it because the NBA still needs to adopt Entertaining As Hell.

4) Move the Bucks to the West

I bug my Bucks season ticket rep a lot.  I ask for new a new jersey design, players like Monta Ellis to be signed, and players like Zach Randolph to be acquired.  (I also suggest some stupid stuff like to sign Gary Neal and to turn him into Ben Gordon-in-his-prime.)  There is one suggestion that rises above all in how strongly it was dismissed: a move to the West.

I get why the Bucks like the East.  They get to play Chicago more often.  They get more start games that air during prime time hours.  They get all of those big east coast markets to see the Bucks.

But look at what could be done if the Bucks were in the West.

The Bucks would have a natural rival in Minnesota.  A natural rival that doesn't buy up 80% of your tickets when you play them at home on a Saturday night.

The Bucks would be in a conference with other cool, mid-major cities like Portland, Denver (I know you people think you're major, but get real), Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and (hopefully in the future) Seattle.

The Bucks would play in Los Angeles twice as often.  (100% a selfish benefit.  But it's my blog.)

The Bucks would have one home game vs. Chicago per year.  They could do something cool with that game.  Like sell half the arena to Bulls fans and half to Bucks fans, like at the Florida/Georgia game.  (And reserve the right to eject any Bulls fans that buy tickets in the Bucks' sections.)  Or book Miller Park for the game.  Or create a special I-94 Rivalry alternate jersey like the Cowboys had for years for the Thanksgiving Day game.

So let's do this NBA.  Let's dump the divisions.  Let's have new conference champs.  Let's have a few more games.  And let's get the Bucks to the conference that they won their championship from.  The world awaits.