Jake's Take: Prospecting the Big Dance (Part 2) - 03/18/11
Jake LeRoy [@JakesTake34]
Bucks vs Nets
Prospecting the Big Dance (Part 2)
On Wednesday, I threw out four players to monitor during the NCAA postseason as potential first-round picks for the Bucks. Let's see how they, and by extension me, faired.
- Alec Burks, shooting guard for Colorado, led the Buffs to a win over Texas Southern in the first round of the NIT. Burks scored a game-high 27 points on a scorching 8-for-9 from the field.
- Jordan Hamilton, shooting guard from Texas, scored 19 points and pulled down 10 boards in leading Texas to a first-round win over Oakland.
- Brandon Knight, combo guard for Kentucky, missed his first seven shots but made his eighth, which just happened to be the game-winning layup.
- Kawhi Leonard, small forward from San Diego State, led the Aztecs to a first-round victory with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with 10 boards.
Tonight, I'll look at four players who could fall to the Bucks in the second round. Two have already been eliminated from the Big Dance, another is in the second round of the NIT and the fourth has already seen his season come to a close.
Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence: Brooks and his fellow Friars concluded their season with a loss to Marquette in the Big East Tournament. Brooks was the best player on a bad Providence team, but he more than earned that best-player distinction. He trailed only BYU's Jimmer Fredette with 24.6 points per game, including 52- and 43-point outbursts against tourney teams Notre Dame and Georgetown, respectively. Brooks also rebounds well for his size, scores efficiently and is an improving three-point shooter.
Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt: There aren't a whole lot of big men coming out that have impressed me that could potentially fall to the Bucks either in the first round or the second round. Ezeli is one of the few. The Commodores may have been upset in the first round, but Ezeli did everything he could with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. At 6-foot-11 and 255 pounds, he's a legitimate center. His averages of 13 points and 6.3 boards are modest, but his athleticism and ability to finish remind me of Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka.
Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt: Taylor, on the other hand, did little to keep Vandy dancing. He shot only 1-of-10 en route to four points, which neatly summarizes his career arc thus far. Taylor has never lived up to the promise he showed as a freshman, but his elite athleticism is tantalizing. His jump shot has gradually improved and he's capable of being a lock-down defender. For now, the question remains: Is he all athlete and no skill? If his skill catches up to his athleticism, he could be really good.
Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State: Thompson is one of the better all-around scorers in college basketball. He led the Pac-10 in scoring by more than three points per game and is capable of scoring in a variety of ways. Thompson is shooting 42 percent from deep and hits 82 percent from the stripe on nearly six attempts per game. He's currently on a six-game tear in which he has averaged 29 points per game, including 43 points against conference champion Washington. Consistency and off-court issues are the only aspects not making Thompson a lock for the first round.
- Andrew Bogut's gravity-defying dunk over Kris Humphries in the first quarter came with shades of Blake Griffin over Timofey Mozgov from earlier this season. Both plays started with a pick-and-roll on the wing with the big rolling to the baseline. Both caught on the block, went up with no dribbles and threw down on a flat-footed defender. Griffin may have absorbed more contact and may have come from slightly farther away, but Bogut's was equally as impressive. It was definitely one of Bogut's better dunks in recent memory.
- This may just be a "Woe is me" situation, but I doubt any team has been victimized by more desperation heaves than the Bucks. The epidemic was a little more widespread in the season's first half, but it flared up again tonight when Williams dropped in a 63-footer like it was a 5-foot floater. Does any team even practice defending three-quarter court shots? Do you run a 2-3 zone in that situation? Or do you go man-to-man?
- I like Damian James as New Jersey's starting small forward. James was a really good college player, but he always came across to me as someone destined to be a role player, and a good one. He's a selfless player who will do the little things like defend, rebound and run the floor. James blends in nicely with the rest of New Jersey's starting unit as well. The Nets already have scorers in Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Anthony Morrow and a rebounder in Humphries. James brings the wing defense that every good team needs.
- The Bucks may have also set the unofficial record for most team concussions in one season. This would be a record on the exact opposite end of the spectrum as Chicago's 72 wins in a season. Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova and The Prince have all suffered concussions this year, and The Prince may have suffered yet another this evening. Early in the second half he caught an elbow from Morrow right between the eyes that sent him sprawling to the floor. At the very least, he'll have a wicked headache and a black eye.
- It has happened as much as I'd like, but every once in a while Delfino will catch fire and start ripping triples left and right. Tonight is one of those nights. Delfino has been hitting from both corners, both wings and the top with six threes and 18 points through three quarters. He started the season hot from deep, but hasn't been able to consistently regain that form since returning from his concussion. That form has returned for at least one game.
- I've seen two or three Illinois jerseys bearing Deron Williams' name this evening. I'm a big fan of college jerseys of current professional athletes. It reminds of purer times. My all-time favorite has to be Barry Sanders' Oklahoma State jersey. That creamsicle coloring is so nice.
Closing It Out
I like it when the Bucks play the Nets. Let me tell you why. First of all, they win and win big, sweeping New Jersey 3-0 and winning by an average of 16 points a game. Second, their offense is as good as it's been all season, averaging 105.3 points a contest on 52.6 percent shooting, which is remarkable for this squad. Finally, Milwaukee has distributed the ball nicely while limiting turnovers, posting 67 assists to just 28 turnovers in the three-game series. That's really about it. High point totals, efficient offense and easy wins. What more can a guy ask for?
Leading the charge tonight was the triumvirate of Delfino, Brandon Jennings and John Salmons. All three have struggled with their shot this season, but that wasn't the case tonight. Delfino matched his season high with 26 points and set a career best with eight three-pointers. Salmons' midrange game was its finest, leading to 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Jennings added 16 points and notched 10 assists for his fifth double-double of the season.
Fellow starters Bogut and The Prince joined Delfino, Jennings and Salmons in double digits with 13 and 15 points, respectively. Each shot better than 50 percent as well, marking the first time this season all five starters have both scored in double figures and made at least half of their shots in doing so.
This was a good and much-needed win. Indiana held off a furious comeback from Chicago to pull out an overtime win over the division leaders, so the Bucks needed this win to stay just 2.5 games back. Milwaukee has a Sunday matinee with New York next. The shine has worn off the Carmelo Anthony trade now as the Knicks have gone just 1-4 in their last five contests. This game is winnable; the Bucks just have to make the most of their chances.
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.