Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I'm Worried That I Was Right

It's hard not to overreact to last night's preseason loss to the Cavs.  Yes, the Bucks' two best players were held out.  Yes, the Grecian Formula at point guard was an experiment by design.  Yes, it was against longstanding Bucks preseason nemesis Kevin Love.  But, still.  That fourth quarter where the Cavs' scrubs pulled away from a crew of Bucks' rotation players was ugly.

Jason Kidd couldn't have been happy, and his comments at practice today indicating that every starting spot is up for grabs is evidence of that.  Larry Sanders, Brandon Knight and Jabari Parker have to be the three main targets of that message.  It almost leads one to the conclusion that the exclusion of The Colonel and Good Brandon from last night's game was more than just the coach tinkering with lineups.

Far beyond any other worries was the play of Jabari Parker.  Giannis struggled to the tune of 0 field goals and 0 assists in 23 minutes, but that was predictable.  Jabari Parker's inability to hit contested shots or create space, on the other hand, was disconcerting.  Yours truly was critical of the Jabari Parker pick before and after the draft, but in the months since that opinion had changed.  Parker showed flashes of being a versatile offensive force somewhere in the Larry Bird genealogy.  Last night, Parker showed the lack of elite athletic ability (something that Bird, Paul Pierce, Big Dog and others were able to overcome to great success), but little of the craftiness, touch or decision making that the best talents of his type use to become elite players.

The worrisome stretch of play came in the last half of the fourth quarter.  The Cavs' unit of likely benchwarmers/non-roster players (AJ Price, Chris Crawford, Alex Kirk, Shane Edwards and Joe Harris) tore through five Bucks rotation/possible rotation players (Parker, Greek, Nate Wolters, Middleton and John Henson) in turning an 89-91 deficit into a 106-97 lead.  It was a five minute stretch where the Cavs' scrubs outscored the Bucks' contributors 17-6.

Again, it's only preseason.  And, to be fair, Wolters is a likely benchwarmer, the Greek belongs on the bench and Middleton & Henson are on the borderline between the rotation and the bench.

But, Parker.  Parker is the one that worries me.  It is unfair to expect a rookie to be a great player right away and blah, blah, blah.  But he needs to be great.  He needs to be great to get Milwaukee excited about the NBA again and he needs to be great to justify picking him in a draft where Joel Embiid and Elfrid Payton (among others) were still on the board.  Hopefully this was just an off game that everyone will eventually forget.

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