Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Predicta-Bucks

The NBA trade deadline is tomorrow at 2 p.m. Central Time.  NBA talking heads expect the Bucks to dump salary and pursue a point guard.  If past is prologue, that is exactly what will happen.

The Edens/Lasry/Dinan ownership tenure has been nothing if not predictable.  The world knew that Larry Drew was an inherited, losing coach; he was quickly dismissed.  Ownership's eye was on Jabari Parker's "NBA readiness" at the 2014 Draft, and that's who was selected.  (One spot ahead of Joel Embiid, it must be said.)  Brandon Knight was dumped for a guy on a cheaper contract, a big money center was signed in 2015 and the team's glaring 2016 weaknesses -- backup point guard and shooting -- were addressed last summer.  Each of those events were pegged by local and national NBA reporters before they happened.

There is nothing wrong with being predictable off the court.  It lessens the stress on players and fans. It can help build relationships with other teams.

Being predictable probably aided the dumping of Miles Plumlee.  The whole NBA world knew that the Bucks wanted to delete the Plumlee mistake.  When Charlotte went looking for an active bench Big, they settled on the Bucks.  That may not have happened if the Bucks were more secretive and unpredictable.

If the Bucks continue their history of predictability, we know what will happen at the trade deadline.  They will acquire a point guard.  They will not surrender a first round pick to get said point guard.  They will rid themselves of between one and three Bigs, either via trade, release or both.

The frustrating part of all of this is that it feels like the team is settling.  They have beaten good teams this season and they are in a wide open race.  The Wizards feel like a contender, for goodness sakes.  Why not the Bucks?

The Bucks had an awful stretch early in the year.  They exited San Antonio on January 10 with a 19-18 record and some impressive wins on their resume (Cavs, Grizzlies, Thunder and Bulls, in addition to the Spurs).  They exited the Bradley Center on February 10 with a 22-30 record and Jabari Parker's blown out knee.

Parker's injury may be obfuscating the truth about the Bucks' rough month: they were a broken team, and Jabari deserved a lot of the blame.  Parker was scoring every night, rebounding above his average and even posting a few blocks and steals.  The problem was that he started initiating offense and that seemed to cause Giannis to shrink.

Jabari wasn't solely to blame for Antetokounmpo's mini-funk, but he played a role.  Giannis likes being the catalyst.  He can't be when Parker runs the show.

The Greek Freak's struggles showed up in his numbers.  In the first three games after Jabari's injury, Giannis posted six, ten and six assists.  With Jabari playing, Giannis hadn't gone above six assists since New Year's Eve.

Trading Jabari Parker prior to this year's deadline is not in the cards.  Bucks management; especially Senior Vice President Alex Lasry, loves Parker and think he'll be one of the League's top stars.

Making a run at the East crown could be in the cards.  The Bucks won three in a row prior to the All Star break, and nearly made a titanic comeback against the Lakers the game before that.  Those are the four games since Jabari went down.  This Bucks team is out of its funk.  The Greek Freak is one of the NBA's best, and in the Playoffs the Coach Kidd can play him forty-five minutes a night.

Online Bucks fans seem to be content with playing the waiting game.  Hopefully make the Playoffs, probably pull an upset due to Giannis, then bow out to Cleveland, Toronto or Washington.

This blog would prefer a riskier path.  Draft picks and young players are nice, but a couple of solid vets could give the Bucks a chance.  It's the East and we have Giannis.