Milwaukee Bucks finally close out a win against the Sixers

Drew Gooden

AP Photo/Tom Mihalek

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and the Milwaukee Bucks have had considerable problems this season closing out teams good and bad.

Saturday night’s 93-87 overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers still featured the Bucks’ late game issues (0-6 in the final five minutes of regulation), with a twist ending where Milwaukee’s defense comes through with one of their best second halves of the season.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

Bucks Bet on Jennings and Meeks

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By Thomas Lea

Brandon Jennings took a chance when he bypassed a scholarship to the University of Arizona and the spotlight of Pac-10 basketball over a year ago in favor of playing professionally in Italy. So, I guess it makes sense that the former top rated high school product from Oak Hill Academy wound up with a team taking a chance on him during Thursday’s annual NBA Draft.

While many had Jennings slipping on their draft boards, the Bucks apparently were not drinking that Kool-Aid and took him with the No. 10 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. Though Milwaukee had former Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn at the top of its draft board, general manager John Hammond and coach Scott Skiles went with Jennings after Flynn was taken at No. 6 by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With the pick, the Bucks have a high ceiling point guard with potential to be great. He is an absolute freak athletically and has the ability to utilize his superb quickness to get to the rim and finish or dish the rock to one of the multiple perimeter players the Bucks have in the lineup.

He possesses a decent shooting touch, although it will need to improve if he hopes to elevate his game to a higher level. He can be creative with the rock and get himself through sticky situations with above average ball handling skills that defenders will have to respect. And do not undersell the advantages Jennings will enjoy by playing for Skiles, who was a heck of a point guard in his days as a player during his lengthy career.

Though Jennings was not present at the moment the pick was made, he did make a grand entrance at Madison Square Garden a bit later and saluted the rowdy crowd. After he could not receive any sort of guarantee that he would be a lottery pick from interested teams, the prospect decided to take the safe route in favor of a potentially embarrassing fall down the draft board a la Brady Quinn or Aaron Rodgers and only showed up after he was picked in the top 10.milwaukee_bucks

When picked, and even before, the kid remained confident in his basketball ability and should play a prominent role in the Bucks rotation especially if the team runs into injury problems that have plagued them over the past few seasons.

After shipping Mo Williams to play with King James in Cleveland before the season began a year ago, point guard play was a bit erratic with a banged up Luke Ridnour and an inconsistent, but young, Ramon Sessions manning the position last season.

If anything, Jennings will be a solid and reliable backup in his first few seasons in the Association. And that role could be even greater should the Bucks part ways with Sessions who is a restricted free agent heading into the early July signing period, although that seems rather unlikely especially after the Bucks opened some cap space by trading away Jefferson.

Overall, for the No. 10 pick in a draft loaded with point guards, the Bucks secured one that could be a household name in the future. And that recognition could come sooner rather than later. Especially if the young player is able to chip in double figure scoring to a position that returns only one player (Ramon Sessions) that averaged over 10 points per game after Michael Redd went down with an injury and excluding the recently traded Jefferson’s numbers.

In the second round, a place where the Bucks have had great success in years past with the likes of Redd and Mbah a Moute, Hammond went with former Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks. Many will remember the 54 points the junior guard dropped on Tennessee, a Kentucky record, and for good reason. In short, the solidly built Meeks can flat out score. nba-draft11

What makes his game somewhat more impressive is his ability to score without creating his own shot. As a member of the Bucks, a team that features a great passing Andrew Bogut who loves to work it inside out and find players perched on the perimeter. Meeks, who is at his best as a catch and shoot guard, could be another shooter to coincide with a lethal Redd from distance. And if he ever develops a knack to find his own shot within himself, he could become another second round gem.

But with Charlie Bell, Keith Bogans, Luke Ridnour and newly acquired Salim Stoudamire already on the roster, Meeks will need to show he is capable of performing consistently at a high level in order to receive any consistent playing time. With his ability to score though, and at a position that has struggled in that department since trading away Mo Williams, I’m confident Skiles will find a way to get Meeks in the rotation.

With Jennings and Meeks comprising the 2009 draft class, the Bucks will have solid ball handlers that will space the floor and open things up inside for Andrew Bogut, Dan Gadzuric and the rest of the frontcourt. Teams will have to respect the quickness of Jennings and the sharp shooting of Meeks and that will prevent teams from doubling down on Bogut, which should help his game around the rim and open things up for penetration among the guards.

And with the wiggle room in the salary cap following the trade, the Bucks have a legitimate shot to re-sign one, if not both, of Sessions and Charlie Villanueva. By doing so, and with the new additions to the squad, the Bucks will have a legitimate core to make a run at one of the lower playoff seeds in 2009-2010 if (and a big if at that) the team can stay relatively healthy for the entirety of the season.

NBA Draft Mailbag

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Paul M. Banks and David Kay answer your college and professional hoops queries

Check out our college and NBA content at Walter Football.com

I love it.

Although a bone to pick is with this Ty Lawson selection.  If he’s not gone by 10 I’ll be shocked.  He’s a fluid shooter now and will be a defensive pest.  But if the Pistons end up with him in their laps, holy cow what a pick up.

Good stuff.

Ryan

http://lifeondumars.com/

I hate North Carolina (especially Tyler Hansbrough) with a passion, but I respect Lawson’s game to the utmost. As soon as I found out he would be ready to go for the big dance, I picked UNC to win it all and that earned me the last in-the-money spot in the final standings of the pool I entered. He was the key to that offense and has 1000x more pro potential than Psycho T.

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Does Jodie Meeks have the talent to go top 5 if he returns for his senior year at UK? 23.7 ppg. last season, 41% from 3PT range, 37 inch vert…if he improves his handle, defense, and shows the ability to penetrate/score in Cal’s dribble drive motion, what is not to like?

Also, what would the Timberwolves need to trade to move up from #6 or #2 or #3 to get Ricky Rubio?

Matt McGuire
NFL Draftologist
WalterFootball.com
mmcguire5@gmail.com

Saying Meeks is a top five prospect for next year would be a pretty aggressive statement.  Meeks is pretty one-dimensional right now and needs to work on his ability to get to the basket if he is going to be a starter at the next level.  He is not the quickest player in the game, but showing he can thrive in the dribble-drive should help his stock.  Problem is that Kentucky has so much talent coming in for next season (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins) and plenty of players returning, so Meeks won’t get the amount of shots or touches he did last season.  I have him at #27 right now in my 2010 mock draft and think he could potentially move into the mid-first round or late-lottery, but he would have to show some major improvement in the areas you mentioned (defense, handles) to even be a top 10 pick let alone top 5.

In regards to your T’Wolves questions, I defer to my Wolves expert, Andy Weise- he answers your queries in this link

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Nellie said that SJax would work as mostly a SG this season so the projected depth chart should look more like this, not using UFA’s, like you did (I’m too lazy to go find proof so if you want you can take my word or do the research yourself or whatever):

PG: Monta Ellis/Anthony Morrow
SG: Steven Jackson/Jamal Crawford/Marco Belinelli
SF: Corey Magette/Kelenna Azubuike
PF: Anthony Randolph/Brandon Wright
C: Andris Biedrins/Ronny Turiaf

Spencer Duncan

Sometimes I’m even too lazy to go look up the contracts….ok, not really. but thanks for the heads up. That was the first one we did and hasn’t been updated since Cinco de Mayo, so we’ll get on it.

Can the Denver Nuggets repeat this year’s success next year? Any chance they can get Amare Stoudemire?

Saul

I don’t think the Nuggets have the pieces to deal for Amare, mostly because it doesn’t appear they have the requisite expiring contracts. We listed them out here:price121

They can certainly duplicate this year’s success if Chauncey Billups stays healthy and this team continues to stay in the mold that George Karl re-shaped them into this year. They made a giant leap forward because Karl got them to D up and stop trying to just outscore people. And of course, Billups  is the ultimate game changer. I spoke with UConn guard A.J. Price at the NBA Draft combine, and he tells it like it is here:

“It’s the most important position on the court. It’s like the quarterback in football, you’re making the calls, it’s up to you to execute. You’ve got to be headstrong to play the one, no room for error, to be shaken up or rattled because the team’s going to follow you. Teams understand the need to have a steady guy at the one, who is always under control, a la Chauncey Billups or someone like that. Those teams tend to do better,”

Other questions surround Nene, J.R. Smith and the Birdman, because all of them had breakthrough years and I’m not sure they’re completely for real….yet. They just might be because the Nuggets’ stock in the West is going up right now, while San Antonio, Phoenix and Dallas are in decline. Utah and New Orleans also regressed a bit this season- opening things up for Denver to reach the conference finals again next year.

Regards,
–Paul M. Banks

Founder, The Sports Bank.net
http://thesportsbank.wpengine.com/

The Stock Report

By David K.

A weekly update of whose NBA Draft stock is rising and falling.

BUY:

Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, Jr, 6-4

Henderson arrived at Duke with fairly high expectations coming out of high school. In his first two years with the Blue Devils, Henderson never fully lived up to his potential and was known more as the guy who bloodied Tyler Hansborough than an NBA prospect. Finally, over the past few weeks we have seen Henderson show us why he has lottery potential. He is averaging 21 points over his last five games while shooting 67% from the field, 77% from downtown. I still don’t think he will declare after this season, unless of course Duke wins a national title, but if he did, Henderson would be a mid-first round pick.

Footlocker.com

Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, So, 6-10

I am guessing that 95% of you have never heard of this guy. Well, listen up. Brackins blew up against Kansas going for 42 points and 14 rebounds. He already has games of 32/16, 28/17, and 38/14 this season. Brackins is second in the Big 12 in points behind some guy named Blake Griffin, is athletic for his size, and has decent range on his shot. Because he plays for a crappy team like the Cyclones, he could be tempted to turn pro after this season and would likely be a mid-first round talent.

Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky, Jr, 6-4

When you score 54 points in a single game, people are going to take notice. Meeks has come out of nowhere this season and turned into one of the elite scorers in the nation, averaging almost 26 ppg. He’s shooting 45% from three, 91% from the charity stripe. In an offensive-minded league like the NBA, there is always the need for a pure scorer who can create his own shot, which is exactly what Meeks does. He is probably a borderline first round pick if he declares though, and would be better suited heading back to UK.

SELL:

Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina, Jr, 5-11

Lawson is still having a very nice season for the Heels. However, he was absolutely exposed by Jeff Teague in their loss to Wake Forest. The taller Teague went off for 34 points as Lawson had no answer to stop him. Lawson is still a first round pick, but is quickly falling down the point guard heavy rankings behind the likes of Teague, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Patrick Mills, Darren Collison, and possibly Eric Maynor and Johnny Flynn. That’s not counting Ricky Rubio if he decides to come to the “association.” (Totally ripped that off from Jim Rome) Lawson may actually be better off staying at UNC for his senior season so he could be eligible for the 2010 Draft which looks to be lacking in point guard prospects.

A.J. Abrams, G, Texas, Sr, 5-11

Abrams has had a real tough go of it lately- being held below double digits in five of his last nine games. He is in a major shooting slump partially because defenses are keying in on him and making it nearly impossible for him to get a good look at the basket. That does not bold well for a 5-11 (more like 5-9) two-guard in the NBA. Abrams will eventually snap out of his shooting funk and still could be a second round pick. He has to prove he can play the point though if he wants to catch on in the pros.

Footlocker.com

Ronald Steele, PG, Alabama, Sr, 6-1

Early in his collegiate career, Steele was considered a first round prospect, but injuries have de-railed his once promising career. Nagging knee problems forced Steele to sit out last season, then last week Steele announced he would leave the ‘Bama program because of plantar fascitis. Other reports say that Steele left the Crimson Tide because he no longer wanted to play for head coach Mark Gottfried, who was pretty much forced out of his job on Monday. Whatever the situation really is, any chance Steele had of playing in the NBA appears to be no more.