About that Milwaukee trip...


  • Teams: Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks
  • Date: January 22, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Milwaukee Bucks came into the season expecting to compete for a playoff spot. They made a few moves in the offseason that led them to believe they would field a competitive roster and give Eastern Conference teams some trouble.

Talk about completely misjudging your talent and situation.

Milwaukee collected spare parts from teams that were either fringe playoff contenders or NBA doormats, and simply assumed those pieces would help them earn a postseason berth.

In doing so, they failed to account for obvious issues that could potentially arise with the roster they constructed. Indeed, acquiring a few rotation guys from different teams with varying degrees of success is hardly an ideal recipe to follow when constructing a playoff team if the players are not great fits.

In fact, it can look real ugly when that thought process becomes reality. The Bucks are living proof. They brought in Brandon Knight to play point guard despite the fact that he is less than stellar at running a team.

He is an inefficient scorer and has a tendency to see plays develop a bit late, which kind of matters at that position. On a team with other creators that anticipate defensive looks, this would be a mere blip on the radar, but in Milwaukee, it’s tragic.

Knight is surrounded by players are that singularly minded on getting shots up, which makes for an interesting dynamic. It’s like watching a team full of J.R. Smith prototypes; it might be entertaining in a train wreck sort of way, but hardly a winning formula.

Caron Butler has always favored isolation plays from midrange because it allows him to get his shot off against defenders given his size.

On a good team, he is likely facing the second or maybe third-best perimeter defender of the opposition. In Milwaukee though, teams are devising actual schemes to stop him and well, the result is a 35.9 percent field goal percentage for the season.

O.J. Mayo has gone through a bit of the same transition as Butler in 2013-14. Last season, Rick Carlisle put him in situations that fit his skill set. Mayo played the role of scorer, spot-up shooter and playmaker on a team of high-intellect players, and that helped him sign a three-year $24 million deal with Milwaukee.

Also, he played next to Dirk Nowitzki, which will help just about everyone look better. On the Bucks though, he has not been able to replicate that success because of the team’s construct.

Place a bunch of low-percentage scorers together and they are bound to collectively struggle. Not so coincidentally, they own the worst offensive efficiency in the league.

That is hardly the lone thing limiting Knight and company this season. There is far too much indecisiveness on the team and also, the Bucks seem to be imploding. They have the worst record in the Association and the team’s lack of identity has become an issue according to Mayo who shared his thoughts with Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel:

It’s hard to get a rhythm when you don’t know what’s going to happen for you night in and night out. You may get 6 minutes, 30 minutes. There’s no staple to what we’re doing. You can hang in there, compete and keep it close.

If you don’t have a backbone to what you do, whether it’s going to be a defensive thing, an up-tempo thing, a pound-it-in-the-paint thing, a drive-and-kick thing. We’ve got to find a staple as a team.

If you thought things were bad from the players’ standpoint in terms of identifying what type of team they are, the sentiment is actually shared by the coaching staff. Larry Drew had this to say to Bucksketball’s Jeremy Schmidt:

When you bring in 11 new faces and you’re trying to learn them and they’re trying to learn you and you’re trying to find out what works, just trying to find chemistry. What you have. And then you mix in dealing with the injuries and having to shuffle things around, it’s not an easy situation. But I knew that coming into it, as far as all the changes that would be made and all the faces. Not knowing exactly what I had and what would work and what wouldn’t work, but I stay committed. I stay committed to trying to find solutions with what we do have. And as we move further down the line we’ll see what direction we’re going to go.

The Bucks might be the opponents for the Detroit Pistons tonight, but if anything, it sounds as though they have to figure themselves out first. Until they actually do so, it stands to reason Milwaukee will not be involved in any compelling matchup.

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