6th Fan Blogger: Bucks at Nuggets - 03/20/10

March 20, 2010
Jake LeRoy

The Madness Continues
I’m not entirely sure I’ve recovered from the madness that was the Bucks game last night and has been the NCAA Tourney the last two days. I was relieved to see that the Bucks did, in fact, win last night and that it wasn’t an elaborate figment of my imagination. Not that I think my imagination could ever conjure up the events that occurred between 11 and 12 p.m. last night.

After rambling off four possible first-round draft pick possibilities yesterday, I’m going to look at possibilities for the two second-round picks the Bucks have this year, which will be in the 35-40 and 45-50 ranges. These players could very well climb into the first round of the draft, but it’s too hard to tell at this point. Ideally, they’d all be there, but that’s unlikely. Here we go.

Jarvis Varnado, PF, Mississippi State – Varnado is, at this point, pretty much just a one-trick pony. But it’s a trick he does better than anyone ever has at the collegiate level. Varnado set the NCAA record for most career blocks this season and finished his career averaging nearly four swats a game. While he’s shot nearly 60 percent from the field in his career, his offensive game is extremely limited and would likely consist of pure hustle points in the pros.

Greivis Vasquez, G, Maryland – I love versatility in a player and Vasquez’s unique skill set at his size (6-foot-6) makes him a two- or possibly three-position player. He’s not a great shooter and he’s probably a subpar athlete, but he’s found a way to get it done, as evidenced by his stature as reigning ACC player of the year. I can’t help but envision Vasquez running point while Brandon Jennings plays off the ball on the offense. It’s kind of an Allen Iverson-situation during his heyday in Philly, with Eric Snow running the point while guarding the 2-guard.

Kalin Lucas, PG, Michigan State – With Luke Ridnour entering free agency this year, the Bucks will likely be in the market for a point guard to back up Jennings. Lucas could definitely fit the part. He led Michigan State to the national championship last year and was named the Big 10 player of the year as a sophomore. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he plays defense and knows how to run a team. Plus, he would provide Charlie Bell with someone to talk Spartan basketball with.

Omar Samhan, C, St. Mary’s – Coming into the tournament, I thought Samhan would surely be available early in the second round. After averaging 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds en route to leading St. Mary’s to the Sweet 16, it looks like his stock is bound to climb. He’ll never be confused for an athlete, but he uses his 6-foot-11, 260-pound frame very effectively. He has no vertical or lateral quickness, but he’s crafty in the post. He also seems like a smart guy with a strong work ethic, shedding approximately 50 pounds over his college career. Additionally, he’s an Aussie-sympathizer after playing with five Australians at St. Mary’s, so he should have no problem forming a bond with Andrew Bogut.

In-game Musings

  • Chris “The Birdman” Anderson is currently sporting one of the greatest mustaches I’ve ever seen. It’s on par with Tom Selleck, Dave Wannstedt and this guy. It’s the perfect storm of blondeness, woolliness and ultimate food trapper. He’s done a lot of interesting things with his cranium hair, but this is by far his best effort.
  • Is there any doubt that Denver is far and away the most-tattooed team in the NBA? The Iverson-Billups trade may have narrowed Denver’s lead over the rest of the league, but it’s still a healthy gap. J.R. Smith probably has more tattoos himself than every Buck combined. Throw in Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Anthony Carter and Anderson, and it’s a landslide. I’m pretty sure I saw Smith getting another tat during a timeout.
  • I can’t shake the feeling that Ersan Ilyasova is that guy that opposing fans absolutely despise. That guy who takes charges, hits big shots, and grabs key offensive rebounds, basically all of those little things that drive the opposition crazy. You hate him, but you would love him if he were on your team. Robert Horry provided the template for this player. Andres Nocioni was always that guy to me when he was on the Bulls. Anderson Varejao and Eduardo Najera also fall in that category. And Tyler Hansbrough has immense potential to be that guy. Ilyasova may be My Favorite Turk, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case throughout the league.
  • Usually when I see a 22-5 free-throw discrepancy — the difference at the end of the first half — I automatically assume there was some questionable officiating. But Anthony and Chauncey Billups just bulldoze into the lane time and time again and draw contact. I really can’t argue with the calls either. I want to, but I can’t. They just know how to draw contact, and then overemphasize the amount of contact, which is a skill that no Buck has really mastered. John Salmons is getting there, but he’s still a little ways away.
  • Carlos Delfino’s value to the Bucks was never more evident than in the team’s loss to the Clippers Wednesday. Los Angeles went into a zone in the second half, and the Bucks just didn’t have the personnel to shoot themselves out of it. Delfino is the epitome of a zone-buster. His 3-point percentage isn’t great, but he’s enough of a threat that opposing teams have to account for him. Sometimes the threat of a three-pointer is just as important as an actual make. If an opposing team overcompensates to cover one guy, it leaves another guy that much more open. Delfino was much more than just a threat tonight with four trifectas.

Final Thoughts
Well this completely makes up for Kansas destroying my bracket. I hate to say it, but I really didn’t give the Bucks much of a chance tonight. To come into Denver fresh off a late-night 2-OT game and take out the league’s fourth-best team is truly remarkable. Milwaukee easily could have mailed this game in and headed back to Wisconsin with a 1-2 road trip in its pocket. But it didn’t. The Bucks played strong and are now going home with their first winning West Coast trip in what seems like forever. I went all the way back to the 2002-03 season and didn’t find a trip where they went any better than 2-2. I can’t help but think I could’ve gone back another decade without finding one.

Making this win that much more impressive is that the Bucks did it with minimal contributions from Bogut. Salmons continued to make John Hammond look like a genius with 26 points and some clutch free throw shooting. Ilyasova dropped his second-consecutive double-double with 14 points and 10 boards, and Delfino finished with 21. I can’t forget Kurt Thomas, who played 25 big minutes with Bogut in foul trouble. Picking up the slack for a subpar game from a teammate is what good teams do.

The Bucks may have sent Anthony and Billups to the line a ton (29 times combined), but that shouldn’t take away from the defensive effort they gave tonight. The top three scorers for Denver — Anthony, Billups and Smith — combined to shoot just 20-for-62 from the floor. Hats off to Salmons, Delfino and The Prince for the superb defense they played tonight.

The win tonight definitely salvaged my basketball weekend. It wasn’t looking pretty with Kansas, Marquette, Georgetown and handful of other teams going home much earlier than I expected. Seriously, how did I miss the powerhouse that is Northern Iowa?

Work hard. Play hard. Type hard.


Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.

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