Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rashad Vaughn Watch; Preseason TV Night!

Bucks vs. Timberwolves preseason happens tonight in Madison.  It's the first Bucks preseason game in Madison in my memory, thought admittedly I haven't paid too much attention to the preseason slate over the years.

The match is fascinating to me because it features two similar teams who carry widely different perceptions around the League.  The Bucks are perceived to be full of young talent and a ready to content in the East.  The Wolves are perceived to be full of young talent and destined for a long season of ugly losses in the West.  The Bucks are led by Jason Kidd who led the team to a surprisingly good season in his second season as a young head coach.  The Wolves are led by Sam Mitchell, who led the Raptors to a surprisingly good season is his third season as a young head coach.    The Bucks are young and the Wolves are young.  The Bucks have a few solid veterans to guide the youngsters, as to the Wolves.  Both teams even have a pair of supposed superstars-in-waiting, though in both cases there's a lot left to prove.

If you're not offended by that last paragraph, then chances are you're not an online Bucks fan.  For those who are online Bucks fans, I don't feel like arguing with you today.  Instead, I'll add the following in big, bold type since my assumption is that you do a lot more skimming than reading.

The Bucks are where the Wolves hope to be in a year or two: ready to contend with one of the best young cores in the NBA.

This feels like the type of preseason game where the home team really wants to send the fans home happy, so if you're a betting man then I'd recommend picking the Bucks, who are -3 1/2 points (meaning the Bucks would have to win by at least four points for you to win your bet) at one of the sportsbooks mentioned in the New York Times' ongoing exposé of "offshore" gambling.  (You'll realize why offshore is in quotes if you read the Times' article.)

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Rashad Vaughn has been a focus of my attention ever since the Preseason started.  He was the Bucks' first round draft pick and he felt like a home run from the moment his hame was called.  I was so, so happy that the Bucks didn't follow conventional wisdom and pick a spot-up shooter.  Then longtime hoops expert Ross Kreines tweeted about how much he liked Vaughn's game and I got even more happy.

Vaughn looked good in Summer League and, from what I gather, has been strong in Preseason.  He has a natural awareness for the game (an underrated attribute, I tell ya) and he can get his own shot.  OJ Mayo was the only real shot-getter on the Bucks' roster at the end of last season, which is why I was so happy when the Bucks' drafted Vaughn.

The Bucks look good for drafting Vaughn, but since #BucksForest is the headquarters for the 2016 Milwaukee Bucks Season, Hater's Edition, I would be remiss if I didn't mention two possible draftees that the Bucks passed on: Bobby Portis and RJ Hunter.  The Vaughn vs. Portis issue was covered recently in this space, but Hunter's play on the Celtics has added a new wrinkle.

Rashad Vaughn and RJ Hunter were both expected to be selected in the mid-to-late first round, but on draft night the Bucks plucked Vaughn early while Hunter fell to the Celtics near the end of the round. Hunter is more of a shooter and appears to be more seasoned, while Vaughn has bucket-getting and youth on his side.  Hunter has looked just plain great this preseason (though he did have a middling game last night against the Nets' reserves).  The guy has a nice stroke and you can tell that he loves to get steals.  I would be very surprised if we aren't looking back in a few years thinking that the Celts got a steal near the end of the first round (using the pick they acquired when Doc Rivers left, no less!).

I'm a Bucks fan (believe it or not) and Vaughn is a promising Bucks rookie.  I love the guy and I think he'll be great.  The Vaughn/Hunter comparison isn't so much rueing who the Bucks selected, it's moreso another log on the fire of my antipathy towards the Celtics.  Vaughn is my guy and I want to see him outperform Hunter every step of the way.  I'm looking forward to seeing what our guy can do once the games start to count.

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