Sunday, May 26, 2013

2012-13 Milwaukee Bucks Final Rankings

The Bucks were 16-16 under Scott Skiles to open the season before they "mutually parted ways".  Assistant coach Jim Boylan took over as interim head coach for Skiles.  The Bucks started 8-3 under Boylan but floundered after that.

I gave Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond advice for how to improve the team at the trade deadline.  Unfortunately Hammond did not listen to my advice, instead he traded for J.J. Redick, which turned out to be a bunt singles instead of the home run that the Bucks needed.  In exchange for Redick, Gustavo Ayon, and Ish Smith the Bucks gave up:

(13, 12) Doron Lamb (20, SG, 6'4", 210 lbs, Kentucky, Rookie): Really thought he had a chance to be Right-handed Michael Redd 2.0.

(10, 7) Tobias Harris (#15, SF, 6'8", 226 lbs, Tennessee, 2nd NBA Season): I will always think of Harris as the guy the Bucks got instead of Kenneth Faried.  No question Faried will have a better NBA career than Harris but since leaving Milwaukee, Harris put up great numbers in Orlando.  Let's relax on Harris being a superstar though, don't forget he put up good numbers on the worst team in the NBA. Let's see Harris do this for a few seasons on a decent team before we start annointing him the next NBA superstar.

(6, 8) Beno Udrih (#19, PG/SG, 6'3", 203 lbs, Slovenia, 8th NBA Season): Thought the Bucks could have used this expiring contract more effectively.  Udrih is a free agent this off-season and would be the perfect combo guard to add if he will play for 25% of $7.4 million he earned last season.

After a hot start under Boylan, the Bucks went 14-25 the rest of the regular season.  I got to see the Bucks play the Thunder in a luxury box thanks to Mama Cheese.  The biggest highlight of the night was Cheesehead Chick singing Ice, Ice Baby verbatim along with Vanilla Ice.  Even worse, the Bucks only won four of their last 16 games to finish the regular season with a record of 38-44, which "earned" them the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The "good news" is that the Bucks made the playoff for the first time in three season.  I say "good news" because the Bucks held their own for short periods of time against the Miami Heat but were swept by the Heat.  The Bucks lost those four games by a combined 59 points and none of them was closer than 11 points.

The sweep of the Bucks was the first time playoff sweep for Miami's "Big Three" (LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh) since they joined forces in 2010.  I look back fondly at Milwaukee's "Big Three" of Sam Cassell, Ray Allen, and Glen Robinson but they look like a Homeless Man's "Big Three" compared to Miami's current trio of superstars.  Add in that Allen is the fourth or fifth banana on the Heat's current roster and absent injury, the Heat are destined to win their second consecutive NBA Title this season.

By virtue of making the playoffs, the Bucks are out of the NBA Lottery while giving them the minimum amount of playoff experience possible, so it is really hard to call the 2012-13 season successful.  Here are my final rankings (mid-season and initial ranking in parenthesis) of the 15-man roster for the 2012-13 Milwaukee Bucks taking into account contract, age, position, and running in reverse order:

#15 (15, 13) Drew Gooden (#0, PF/C, 6'10", 236 lbs, Kansas, 11th NBA Season):
With 53 DNP-CD and 13 inactives this season, the Bucks need to amnesty Gooden this off-season, it is officially time to get #AmnestyGooden trending on Twitter.

#14 (14, 15) Joel Przybilla (#10, C, 7'1", 245 lbs, Minnesota, 13th NBA Season):
The Vanilla Gorilla was a glorified cheerleader this season, which is a nice way to earn a million dollars.

#13 (12, 6) Samuel Dalembert (#21, C, 6'11", 250 lbs, Seton Hall, 11th NBA Season):
With 33 DNP-CD and a couple of team suspensions, Dalembert went from the starting center to barely seeing the court in the playoffs.  In the ultimate f@%k you to Bucks fans, as the Bucks were getting clobbered by the Heat in the playoffs, Dalembert talked about signing with the Heat for next season.

#12 (11, 14) Marquis Daniels (#6, SG, 6'6", 200 lbs, Auburn, 10th NBA Season):
I know this feels low for a guy that had the 6th most starts on the entire roster but Daniels is set to become a free agent this off-season.  Daniels has an interesting skill sets because he does everything adequately but does not have one elite skill.  Since Daniels does everything pretty well, if he was signed for next season, he would be pushing to break the Top 8.  Although the Bucks took a bit of a leap of faith signing Daniels last off-season, I do not see him returning the favor and re-signing with the Bucks.  Instead I see Daniels signing a veteran minimum deal to be the third or fourth guy off the bench for a contender.

#11 (NR, NR) Ish Smith (#15, PG, 6'0", 175 lbs, Wake Forest, 3rd NBA Season):
A salary inclusion in what some are calling the Harris Heist unfortunately got some playing time in the playoffs where he embarrassed Boylan and himself with how poorly he played.  At merely 6-feet tall Smtih reminds me a healthy version of T.J. Ford, which is sort of a compliment, I guess.

#10 (NR, NR) Gustavo Ayon (#19, PF, 6'10", Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla, 2nd NBA Season):
Is a great example of one of my criticisms of PER.  Ayon averages four less minutes per game than Udoh while averaging about the same stat line but somehow has a better PER than Udoh.  May be this is not the perfect example, but PER has to do a better job of factoring in minutes played.

#9 (5, 4) Mike Dunleavy Jr. (#17, SG/SF, 6'9", 230 lbs, Duke, 11th NBA Season):
Finished second on the team in three point shooting percentage (42.8%) last season, which makes him a valuable commodity because despite being a below average defender, he has one elite skill (shooting).  Much like Daniels, if Dunleavy was under contract for next season he would finish at least a few spots higher because you know exactly what you are going to get from him.

#8 (NR, NR) J.J. Redick (#5, SG, 6'4", 190 lbs, Duke, 7th NBA Season):
Since the Bucks made the playoffs, Redick has participated in the playoffs every year since he joined the NBA (first six with the Orlando Magic and this year with the Bucks).  Redick is usually a quality three-point shooter but he shot the lowest percentage for his entire NBA career (31.8%) for the Bucks.  Redick is a free agent this off-season so I see him pulling a Gary Payton and moving on to greener pastures this off-season

#7 (9, 11) Ekpe Udoh (#13, PF, 6'10", 245 lbs, Baylor, 3rd NBA Season):
This is contract over production because Dunleavy and Daniels were more valuable to the Bucks last season than Udoh but the Bucks have Udoh under contract for next season while Dunleavy and Daniels could be playing elsewhere.  Udoh was the 6th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, one pick before Greg Monroe went 7th to the Detroit Pistons.  Monroe looks like a franchise center while Udoh looks like the third or fourth guy off the bench for a decent team so Udoh needs to make some big improvements this off-season, otherwise we might be looking at the next Drew Gooden.

#6 (7, 10) Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (#12, SF/PF, 6'8", 230 lbs, UCLA, 5th NBA Season):
The Prince has one great asset, the ability to defend almost any player in the NBA, but lacks any offensive game besides a decent low post move.  The Price should spend the entire off-season working on his mid-range jumpers and corner threes because if he could develop at least one of those skills, not only would he rival Scottie Williams for my favorite SF/PF in franchise history, but he could transform into the most versatile two-way player on the roster.

#5 (8, 5) John Henson (#31, PF/C, 6'11", 220 lbs, North Carolina, Rookie):
The longest wingspan on the roster would also put up the least reps on the bench press of anyone on the team.  Still Henson is hands down my favorite player on the roster because of his potential upside.  The two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year showed flashes of his defensive prowess mixed with some questionable shot selection during his first season in the NBA.  If Henson can focus on adding 10 pounds of muscle in the off-season, any improvements he makes on the offensive end of the court is gravy.

#4 (4, 2) Monta Ellis (#11, PG, 6'3", 185 lbs, Lanier High School, 8th NBA Season):
The scouting report on Ellis has always been that he is a high volume shooter that doesn't play any defense.  There is no question that Ellis was a high volume shooter, last season he lead the team in field goal attempts and scoring en route to some impressive individual performances.  For instance, Ellis scored 25 points in the 4th quarter against the Magic on March 17, which is the most points scored by any player in a quarter this season in the NBA.  Ellis did average 19.2 points this season to finish 11th in the league in scoring but also lead the Bucks in turnovers as well.  For may be the first time in his career though, Ellis actually improved as a defender averaging 2.1 steals a game, which was 4th best in the league.

#3 (1, 1) Brandon Jennings (#3, PG, 6'1", 169 lbs, Oak Hill Academy, 4th NBA Season):
I like that Jennings is confident, but predicting that the Bucks would beat the Heat in six and then getting swept is not a good look.  In retrospect the Bucks erred in not getting Jennings to sign a Stephen Curry-esque four-year, $44 million extension last off-season because he will end up earning at least that this off-season if he decides to sign a long-term deal. Just one season later four-years for $44 million is way too little for Curry but feels just about what Jennings should make because Jennings was a borderline all-star for the first half of the season but struggled after the all-star break.  Lost in all the potential roster turmoil is the fact that Jennings lead the Bucks in assists (6.5) this season.  That shouldn't be high praise since Jennings was the starting point guard, but it shows that Jennings has the ability to be a traditional point guard despite the fact that I ultimately see Jennings being a Rich Man's Mo Williams.

#2 (3, 3) Ersan Ilyasova (#7, SF/PF, 6'10", 235 lbs, Turkey, 5th NBA Season):
Struggled under Skiles and thrived under Boylan.  Somehow Ilyasova still averaged a career beset 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds.  This season Ilyasova shot 44.4% from long distance, which was 4th best in the league and the second year in a row that he finished in the Top 5 in three point shooting percentage.  Ilyasova is the personification of a stretch 4 and looks like a potential franchise players.  If Ilyasova can improve on the defensive end while continuing to knock down long-range shots.

#1 (2, 9) Larry Sanders (#8, PF/C, 6'11", 235 lbs, Virginia Commonwealth, 3rd NBA Season):
If Henson is my favorite Bucks player, then Sanders is a very close second.  In my initial rankings I said Sanders needed to "make the jump", which he did en route to leading the Bucks in PER (18.8), rebounds (9.5), and blocks (2.8) last season.  Although Sanders is a volatile player (14 technical fouls and five ejections), I honestly think it is because he is such a passionate player.  After game three of the Heat playoff series, Sanders and Ellis reportedly almost got into a fight because Sanders was challenging the team to focus on the playoffs instead of what was going to happen to the roster in the off-season.  That is the kind of leadership the Bucks nee on their roster.  Unless last season was an aberration, it looks like Sanders is a sure-fire franchise player for the next decade.

And with that we can thankfully but the 2012-13 Milwaukee Bucks in our rear view mirror and look towards the 2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks.  Check back Wednesday for my third annual off-season (2011 and 2012) advice for how Hammond should approach this potentially franchise altering off-season.

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