The Milwaukee Bucks at the All Star Break: Better than expected

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By Jake McCormick

The New Jersey Nets are the Cheers of the NBA: Anytime you need a pick up, go somewhere where everybody knows you’ll win. You’ll always be glad you came.

Approximately 24 hours after the Milwaukee Bucks laid an egg and shot a season low 36.6% in their worst loss of the season at home against the Detroit Pistons, they shoot 50% in a 97-77 road win over the lowliest team in the NBA. Milwaukee has a seven day layoff before their next game at home against the declining Houston Rockets, and that means it’s time to take a look back at the biggest, and smallest contributors to the Bucks’ 24-26 first half.

Where the Bucks stand in the Eastern Conference, statistically:

8th in points per game (98)
8th in points allowed (97.8)
13th in fg% (.433)
8th in opp FG% (.456)
4th in 3FG% (.363)
3rd in turnovers (13.4)
2nd in opp turnovers/game (15.7)
3rd in rpg (43.1)

First half awards:

MVP
Andrew Bogut
In his recent power rankings, ESPN’s Marc Stein suggested Bogut may be the best pure center in the East not named Dwight Howard. Although it’s evident that the team has gone as Bogut goes all season, he’s really stepped up his play since the beginning of January, averaging 17 points/10.8 rebounds/2.52 blocks per game while connecting on more than 53% of his shots. Milwaukee is 16-5 when Bogut scores 17 or more points and 13-1 when he scores at least 20 points and 8 rebounds, and if healthy is in line to turn in a career year.

LVP
Michael Redd
It’s been a tragically rough road for the former All-Star, as injuries and a lack of chemistry have haunted Redd for the last couple of years. But when he was on the court this season, it was clear he was working to get back to 100% and the rest of the team was hindered because of it. Now he’s out for the season again, and has a potentially devastating $18 million player option for 2010-11 that could derail any plans Milwaukee may have for the upcoming summer of free agent love. The promising combination of the sharpshooting Redd knocking down perimeter shots, the speedy Brandon Jennings dishing and driving, and Bogut working the ball inside is nothing but a pipe dream now.

Spark Plug
Luke Ridnour
So what if the man who has made Bucks fans forget all about Ramon Sessions looks like Frodo and has a career shooting percentage of 42.1%? Ridnour has been an extremely pleasant surprise off the bench all season, and he has posted career highs in field goal percentage (47.9%), three point percentage (40.3%), and free throw percentage (91.8%) while not starting a game this year. Ridnour has come back to earth a bit lately, but there’s no doubt that he has given the Bucks consistent energy off the bench. In fact, he leads Milwaukee in assists to turnover (2.80), points per 48 minutes (24.7), and is second to Brandon Jennings with 8.5 assists per 48 minutes.

Second half X-factors
Starters X, Y, Z
Bogut will be Bogut, Jennings is still learning the nuances of running an NBA team, and the Bucks’ bench should continue to do its thing when called upon. This has been brought to you in part by Ridnour, Hakim Warrick’s dunks, and Ersan Ilyasova’s streakiness. This leaves the responsibility of filling out the rest of the stat sheet on offense and defense to the trifecta supporting cast of expected starters Carlos Delfino, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Charlie Bell. Delfino has started utilizing his all-around athleticism since the beginning of 2010 and is averaging 15.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and shooting 37.3% from beyond the arc. Mbah a Moute has played his best of the season over the past four games (12.8 PPG, 10 REB, 75% FG, 1.25 STL and 1 BS) and will be expected to sustain that effort while playing lockdown defense on almost every team’s star player. Bell plays within himself at the perimeter, playing serviceable defense and making a high percentage of his shots.

Milwaukee will face some tough tests on the road and at home in the post-All Star Break season, mostly against Eastern Conference playoff teams. Considering the expectations for the Bucks before the 2009-10 season, they have given their fans at least a few reasons to enjoy watching the rebuilding process blossom sooner, rather than later.

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Comments

  1. In total agreement on Redd being LVP and Ridnour being a pleasant surprise- but

    maybe we’ll have Bulls and Bucks fighting for that final playoff spot. an all TSB showdown!

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