Thursday, November 28, 2013

The 15 - Walking Wounded...

I reviewed how Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond completely overhauled The 15 to construct the 2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks.  Instead of bottoming out, Hammond was making marginal moves that "improved" the roster to be competitive this season despite the fact that it could actually hinder the development of The 15 long-term.  So far the Bucks have been absolutely ravaged by injuries on and off the court.  I finally got to see the Bucks in-person for for the first time this season with Papa Cheese.  The Bucks dropped their 10th straight game to drop to 2-12 on the season.  Their most recent loss was to the Washington Wizards in overtime despite the fact that the Wizards are coming off a back-to-back. 

Remember these rankings are done factoring in age, contract, and production.  A perfect example is O.J. Mayo v. Gary Neal.  Mayo is a more talented shooting guard than Neal but teams would much rather pay $3 million a year for Neal than $8 million a year for Mayo.  These rankings are more meaningful in the NBA than the NFL or MLB because NBA teams actually make trades, which are usually an exchange of crappy contracts in the hopes that a change in scenery will make the over paid players somehow improve.  Based on how horrible the Bucks look, I would rather see them downgrade the roster for this season in hopes of builder a winner long-term.  Here are my updated rankings:  

The 15
1. John Henson (PF/C, LR 3)
2. Ersan Ilyasova (PF, LR 1)
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF, LR 5)
4. Gary Neal (SG, LR 6)
5. O.J. Mayo (SG, LR 7)
6. Brandon Knight (PG, LR 4)
7. Larry Sanders (C, LR 2)
8. Khris Middleton (SF, LR 10)
9. Caron Butler (SF, LR 8)
10. Nate Wolters (PG, LR 9)
11. Zaza Pachulia (C, LR 13)
12. Luke Ridnour (PG, LR 11)
13. Ekpe Udoh (PF, LR 14)
14. Miroslav Raduljica (C, LR 15)
15. Carlos Delfino (SG/SF, LR 12)
1. John Henson (PF/C, LR 3): The current team leader in PER is averaging 10 points, 6 rebounds, and just less than 2 blocks per game.  I thought the 2012 NBA Draft was an nine player draft.  Henson was one of those nine guys so I thought there was no way the Bucks would have a chance to nab Henson with the 14th pick.  Luckily teams that picked ahead of the Bucks were more enamored with Austin Rivers, Meyers Leonard, Jeremy Lamb, and Kendall Marshall so Henson fell to the Bucks at 14.  Given Henson's productivity in short spurts, Bucks head coach Larry Drew needs to get Henson 30 minutes a game or be fired.

6) Brandon Knight (PG, LR 4): I want to give Knight the benefit of the doubt because his season got off to a horrible start with him pulling his hamstring in the first few minutes on opening night in New York against the Knicks but Knight has a -.1 PER in five appearances this season, which I did NOT think was even humanly possible.  Sure the sample size is low but that is a rough way to start off with your new employer.  Even worse, Knight looks lost at point guard.  Knight almost single-highhandedly sealed a loss against the Wizards by committing a crucial turnover with the Bucks up 84-81 with just over a minute to play.  The turnover was so bad that I honestly wondered if Knight was throwing the game.  Right now Knight just doesn't look like a confident point guard and I can't tell if that is due to injury or that he will never be a legitimate NBA point guard.

7) Larry Sanders (C, LR 2): Being out six weeks following thumb surgery from the fallout of a bar fight is unacceptable.  Before the injury Sanders was buried on the bench due in part to foul trouble and Drew's affinity for playing guys he knows.  Sanders was averaging just 2.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks to amass a putrid 1.7 PER.  Sure it was only three games but clearly Drew favors re-treads like center Zaza Pachulia ahead of Sanders.  Given how much the Bucks invested in Sanders this off-season, may be they should have talked to Drew about how he envisioned using Sanders because so far icy would be a friendly way of describing the relationship between Drew and Sanders.  Don't get me wrong, Sanders said he had his off-the-court issues behind him but then hurt his thumb in a bar fight but when healthy, he better play regular minutes as a starting center otherwise Hammond has to cut Drew loose.

15) Carlos Delfino (SG/SF, LR 12): If Delfino was healthy to start the season he would have been in the Top 8 of my initial rankings since he had a good chance to start at small forward.  Given that Delfino was supposed to miss the first month or two of the season, I saw him as the biggest potential riser on The 15. According to Delfino's personal website though, he is not recovering as well as he thought so he is most likely out for the season.  That moved the signing of Delfino to a three-year, $9.75 million deal this off-season despite the fact that he was injured from a shrewd move to a potentially horrible signing.  That has been compounded by Drew starting Khris Middleton at small forward even though his ceiling is being a poor man's Desmond Mason. The one bright side of Delfino being out for the season is that it certainly helps the Bucks' chances of tanking for a Top 3 pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft.

Although my #FearTheMediocreDeer hash tag has not caught on yet on Twitter, it is looking spot on so far since this season already looks like a lost endeavor.  The Bucks probably need to go in full tank mode, which is possible given the youth on The 15.  No matter how the Bucks finish in the standings this year, they need to separate young building blocks (think The Greek Freak) from young over-hyped players (think Ekpe Udoh).  That is what makes Drew's lineups so puzzling.  I almost feel like Drew is trying to help the Bucks tank without developing any of the young guys based on how he is currently managing playing time, which is unacceptable.

Given that Sanders is currently hurt, my starting five would be: Knight at point guard, Mayo at shooting guard, The Greek Freak at small forward, Ilyasova at power forward, and Henson at center.  My first five off the bench would be Wolters, Middleton, Neal, Udoh, and Raduljica.  If a foolish NBA GM will give the Bucks any long-term salary cap relief in exchange for Butler or Pachulia, as long as it does not include surrendering any draft picks, I would make that trade in a nanosecond.

No comments:

Post a Comment