Favorite Players

Favorite

Three years ago, Corey Maggette was more popular than Larry Sanders.

There are best players and there are favorite players. Sometimes they are very much the same, and sometimes they are very different. There isn’t really a perfect formula for determining either, but somehow you always know the answer to both.

Sometimes, things change. Regardless, there are exactly three reasons why each player on this year’s team should be your favorite. Coincidentally, the reasons are here.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

  • Youngest player in the NBA.
  • First impressions.
  • When was the last time you were this excited to watch someone on the Bucks?

Caron Butler

  • Born and raised in Racine. No one born in Milwaukee has ever played for the Bucks in the regular season. Nevertheless, this is what a homecoming looks and sounds and feels like. 
  • Seemingly related, but actually unrelated facts: Nickname is Tuff Juice, and has a habit of chewing on straws.
  • Is the only player on the team to be named an NBA All-Star (2007, 2008) or win a NBA championship ring (2011). Also, has scored 4,000+ more points in NBA career than anyone on team.

Carlos Delfino

  • Del3no. Made more threes per minute than anyone in the NBA last season.
  • The first Argentine ever to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. Also, the only player in Bucks history born in South America (and won a Gold Medal at the 2004 Olympics).
  • Randomly does this exactly twice every year.

John Henson

  • Two of his rookie year games versus teams that made it pretty far. 17 points and 18 rebounds against Heat on 11/21/12. And, 20 points and 9 rebounds (on 10-11 shooting) against Spurs on 1/5/13.
  • Ambidexterity. Henson is technically right-handed, and he shoots free throws right handed (for now, anyway). But his left is actually his dominant hand, and the one he uses to shoot those little hooks and do most everything else, including throwing a baseball and tossing a bowling ball.
  • The two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year in college ranked a modest 48th in blocks per minute as a rookie. Yet in the final month of the regular season (April) in bigger minutes, his block rate would have ranked eighth best in the NBA (shhh).

Ersan Ilyasova

  • Made 29.8 % on three-pointers in 2010-11. Turned into the fourth best three-point shooter in the NBA (44.0 %) after that.
  • Ersanity (and its effects on humanity).
  • In form and personality, who else is there like this, today or in history? The threes, the offensive boards, the tip-ins, the aversion to posting up, the charges drawn, the career arc; it’s all very Ersan and no one else.

Brandon Knight

  • Starting point guard. Starting point guards always make good favorite players.
  • Named the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year in high school… as a junior and a senior, while maintaining a 4.3 GPA (he also visited Yale before going to Kentucky).
  • Nice form on his shot (sometimes it is that simple).

O.J. Mayo

  • Exactly the fourth best name in Bucks history.
  • Talked some trash to Michael Jordan while going into 11th grade.
  • Averaged nearly 29 points per game as a junior in high school (on his way to a second consecutive Mr. Basketball of Ohio title)… and then scored a 29 on the ACT.

Khris Middleton

  • One of the best players to ever suit up for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (along with Larry Sanders).
  • Played quite well in April as a rookie last season (8.1 points, 52.9 FG%, 40.0 3PT%) when his playing time went up, which means he might be good.
  • Born as James Khristian Middleton, which means he goes by his abbreviated middle name.

Gary Neal

  • Played for three different college teams before going undrafted. Then went to Europe and played for teams in Turkey, Italy, and Spain. Debuted in NBA at age 26.
  • Two years later, on top of the NBA June world, for a night.
  • Makes a lot of threes; happy to do so off the dribble.

Zaza Pachulia

  • Played with the Bucks on a 2004-05 team that included Toni Kukoc, Michael Redd, Dan Gadzuric, Marcus Fizer, Kendall Gill, Eddie House, and Reece Gaines (photographic evidence).
  • Formally changed name from Zaur to Zaza.
  • Eastern European enforcer; dubbed “Balboa” after a tussle with Kevin Garnett. Nothing easy. Made cameo on a rap song. There is first love, and there is Zaza Pachulia love.

Miroslav Raduljica

  • First “Miroslav” in NBA history.
  • Born in Serbia some 4,000 miles away from Milwaukee; already sports Harley-Davidson t-shirts.
  • Tallest.

Luke Ridnour

  • At least since college (going on 14 years), insists on playing on basketball teams featuring the color green (Ducks, SuperSonics, Bucks, Timberwolves, Bucks again).
  • Had best season of life in 2009-10 with the Bucks; overlooked ingredient of Fear The Deer.
  • Best pound-for-pound open court decisive foul-giver in the league (I trust that Frank Madden and Jeremy Schmidt agree with me on this).

Larry Sanders

  • Draws, designs skateboards, and is writing a book.
  • Did not play basketball until ninth grade. In second NBA season averaged 12.4 minutes and led league in fouls per minute and was assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBDL.
  • Currently the best player on the team.

Ekpe Udoh

  • Middle name is Friday.
  • Hosts a book club on Twitter (#EkpesBookClub).
  • Completely unsurprising stat line: 19 minutes, 2-5 shooting, 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, team-leading +14 differential (meaning the Bucks outscored opponent by 14 points during his 19 minutes on the court).

Nate Wolters

  • Immediately before joining the NBA, played basketball for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
  • Part of a bizarre and confusing second round of the 2013 NBA Draft during which no one had any idea who the Bucks actually picked or acquired or traded.
  • Billy McKinney had zero player comparisons for him.

 

 

Alex Boeder

My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at adboeder@gmail.com.