What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 16. Milwaukee Bucks

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th): 28-28 (third place, Central Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)

  • Points Scored: 97.9 (13th)
  • Points Allowed: 98.8 (18th)
  • Team FG%: .435 (26th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .446 (12th)
  • Team FT%: .733 (24th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .349 (21st)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.7 (5th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 46.1(30th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.4 (10th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 16.3 (2nd)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

  • Scoring (ppg): Brandon Jennings (18.5)
  • Rebounds per game:  Larry Sanders (8.5)
  • Minutes per game: Monta Ellis (37.5)
  • Assists per game: Brandon Jennings (6.1)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Samuel Dalembert (.573)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Brandon Jennings (.810)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Mike Dunleavy (.431)
  • Steals per game: Monta Ellis (2.0)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Larry Sanders (3.1)

Worst Player of the Month: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Other than having one of the longest and most unpronounceable names in the NBA, LRMM--that's what I am going to call him because his name is simply too long to write over again--has been an absolute disappointment.  After playing four years in the league, he has yet to show any real improvement to his game and despite his athleticism has never developed any semblance of an offensive game or lack there of.  After missing all of November due to injury, LRMM surprised many in December as he posted the best numbers in his career averaging 9.6 points and 5.4 boards per game while shooting at a rather efficient .463.  Unfortunately as the season progressed his production diminished as well as his performance making many speculate that LRMM has simply reached his ceiling and will never be worthy of being a starting small forward in this league.  At best LRMM has proven that he is nothing more than an athletic energy guy who can provide spot minutes off the bench thus leading Milwaukee's team management to reconsider committing him long term.   
First Player of the Month: Ersan Ilyasova

At the beginning of the season, it seemed as if Ersan Ilyasova would be yet another free agent bust after being signed to a five year contract extension worth 40$ million.  Coming of a career high season where he average close to 15.0 points and 10 boards a game while scorching the net from behind the arc, Ilyasova entered the season sputtering out of the gates, unable to hit one basket and become more of a hindrance than a help to his team.  It had gotten so bas that the team's previous coach, Scott Skiles lost all confidence in the sharpshooting big man and was forced to shelve Ilyasova early in the season as a result of his bad play; however, that all changed now that Skiles has been given the heave-ho and Ersan managed to earn another chance.  Now,   after struggling at the start of the season, Ersan has once again found his missing shooting stroke once again and has returned as the team's starting power forward.  His numbers have returned at par with his production from last season and he has become a testament of perseverance and determination not giving up on himself the way that Scott Skiles did bouncing back the way that he did.. 

Although they are not blessed with as much athleticism and talent as most team in the eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks can still be considered as one of the luckiest teams in the league.  While the teams ahead of them are jockeying for playoff positioning, the Milwaukee Bucks are simply satisfied with staying where they are--right smack dab on the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff position.  Unlike the teams ahead of them, Milwaukee needs not to worry above those teams behind them because they are so far back that they pose little or no threat.  In fact, one can go as far to say that despite posting a somewhat mediocre record in NBA terms, the Bucks have essentially clinched the last playoff spot in the East with little or no effort.  All Milwaukee has to do is simply coast through the rest of the season and barring any unforeseen calamity, the Bucks  will reach the playoffs with little or no obstacles whatsoever.

Far from the ever contentious Western Conference, the East has been no where near as competitive as there is a massive gap between those who are headed to the playoffs and those who are not.  The closest that the Milwaukee Bucks have seen in terms of a contentious competitor were the Toronto Raptors who had just a two game disadvantage in the standings in January; however, that was rather short lived as Toronto soon went spiraling downward leaving Milwaukee as the sole contender for the East's final playoff spot.  Naturally, they are nowhere near as strong, deep or as talented as the teams ahead of them and most likely the Bucks will be swept in four game come the playoffs' first round; however none of that matters.  As long as Milwaukee simply makes the big dance, the team's fans will be satisfied enough, regardless of the outcome--which is both pretty good and pretty bad in the same time.  It will be good for Bucks fans who have little or nothing to celebrate about when it comes  to basketball achievements; however, at the same time, it will be bad as there will be little or nothing else to look forward to afterwards.

To put it quite frankly, the Bucks will never be anything better than the marginal playoff team and this playoff appearance will probably be a one time affair.  Once that series inevitably ends, the Bucks will simply return to annals of mediocrity while the same team that they were once ahead of will quickly surpass them.  Unlike most NBA teams, Milwaukee simply does not have the attraction factor to lure prospective free agents and to keep talent from leaving forcing the team to always continue starting over after the team tastes one hint of success.  In terms of market exposure, Milwaukee is a team that is practically ignored by the mainstream sports media as it rest in one of the smallest and probably most un-sexiest sports markets in the world.  Other than being the beer producing capital of the free world along with potentially having one of the highest rates of alcoholic in the continental United States, what else is that city known for.

That is why Bucks fans can forget about Brandon Jennings staying for the long haul as he has probably already bought a one way ticket out of Brew Town once his rookie contract expires.  The impending restricted free agent point guard has already shown signs of looking for greener pastures as he already parted ways with his former agent Bill Duffy in favor for Jeff Shwartz, an agent known for sending his clients to the bigger market cities such as New York or Miami.  Add the fact that Milwaukee has little or no leverage in terms of acquiring the personnel around him necessary to at least convince Jennings that this has any kind of real chance to become a real contender.  If anything, one can go as far to say that Milwaukee probably would have been better served to not make the playoffs for at least there would have had a shot of landing a high lottery first round pick; now all the team and its fans will have is a short playoff performance where the team will most likely get shellacked and have little or nothing to show for it.

With up an coming teams in the East such as the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards who have by far more resources and access to quality players than Milwaukee will EVER have, the Bucks can simply reserve their seat for the Eastern Conference basement.  Unless there is a DRASTIC move to upgrade the team's roster whose sole hope are two players that shot under .400 from the field, but take over half the team's shot attempts.  The Bucks' front court has been virtually nonexistent and the team did not do itself any favors by adding yet another perimeter player on a roster already filled with shooters and the February trade deadline.  Milwaukee would have done itself a better service acquiring a post scorer to balance out all their perimeter shoot; instead they acquired another perimeter shooter in Orlando's JJ Reddick whom head coach Jim Boylan has yet to find shots for as well.  That among many other things is why the Milwaukee  Bucks should be considered a team not going anywhere fast anytime soon.