Truman’s Twelve Part III

Long shots who beat the odds

The clock is ticking down.

The defense has been impenetrable.

You need a perimeter shot.

If you were the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks and could call the number of any member of the Bucks’ all-time roster (in his Bucks prime) to fire the clutch shot from long distance, whose number would you call?

In the third installment of a series, “Truman’s Twelve” presents the first half of the dozen players Truman Reed would draft to get the job done.

Which players would you choose?

Jon McGlocklin

“The Original Buck,” chosen by Milwaukee in the National Basketball Association Expansion Draft of 1968, thrived immediately with his second expansion team (coming from the San Diego Rockets). He won a starting backcourt job and became the Bucks’ very first NBA All-Star during their 1968-69 flagship season, averaging  19.6 points per game, and many of those points came via the “Rainbow Jumper,” one of the earliest phrases coined by Bucks Hall-of-Fame radio announcer Eddie Doucette. One of the many classic McGlocklin stories took place during his appearance in the All-Star Game, which included 17 future Hall-of-Famers. During a timeout, McGlocklin was chastised for passing up an open jump shot during a huddle moments later by the legendary Bill Russell, who told him he was the best shooter on the floor. One of the best marksmen the game has ever seen, McGlocklin, an Indiana native, launched many of his 6,561 Bucks shots from long distance and still shot an amazing .505 from the field for his career. The 6-foot-5-inch guard’s scoring averages arguably would have benefited more than any other player whose career preceded the NBA’s implementation of the 3-point line. Those who attended the popular Bucks Basketball Camps during the 1970s still maintain today that they have never seen anyone match the shooting exhibitions McGlocklin gave at the camps. ‘Jonny Mac’ had his jersey number (14) retired by the Bucks on Dec. 10, 1976.


Flynn Robinson

McGlocklin and Robinson comprised Milwaukee’s backcourt for the majority of the team’s expansion season, and they get this vote as the NBA’s premier long-range shooting duo of all time. Robinson, like McGlocklin a young pro who had been looking for an opportunity, found his in Milwaukee. Nicknamed “The Electric Eye” by Doucette, the former University of Wyoming standout was acquired by the Bucks from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Bob Love and Bob Weiss on Nov. 23, 1968. The 6-1 guard averaged 20.3 points a game in 65 contests with Milwaukee that season and put together one of the most torrid scoring streaks in franchise history, rattling off consecutive games of 41, 43 and 45 points to trigger a six-game Bucks winning streak in mid-February. In his second and final Bucks season, Robinson boosted his scoring output to 21.8 points a game and shot a league-best .898 from the free-throw line. Like McGlocklin, Robinson would have rung up even bigger numbers had he played during the 3-point era.


Brian Winters

The former University of South Carolina All-American, one of the four players who came to Milwaukee from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar trade on June 16, 1975, Winters was another promising young prospect who made the most of extended minutes following the trade. Winters, who averaged 11.7 points a game as a rookie in 1974-75, upped his average to 18.2 ppg during his first season in Milwaukee, ranking him second on the team. He lifted his average in each of the next two seasons and averaged better than 19 points on a balanced team for three straight seasons. The 6-4 guard made All-Star Game appearances in 1975-76 and 1977-78, averaging 27.3 and 20.4 ppg in the playoffs following those seasons. Though Winters could score on drives and pull-up jump shots, many of his points, like McGlocklin’s, came from deep, yet he still shot .478 from the field during his Milwaukee years. The 3-point shot wasn’t adopted by the NBA until after Winters’ best seasons and wasn’t implemented like it is today until several years later. Winters’ jersey No. 32 was retired by Milwaukee on Oct. 28, 1983.


Junior Bridgeman

Bridgeman, like Winters, came to Milwaukee in the Abdul-Jabbar trade along with Elmore Smith and fellow 1975 draftee David Meyers. The former University of Louisville All-American capitalized on his rookie minutes to average 8.6 points per game and quickly developed a knack for providing instant offense coming off the bench, often prompting Doucette to proclaim, “The torch is lit.” Bridgeman stepped up his scoring average by nearly 6 ppg in his second year as a pro and shot over .500 from the field in both 1977-78 and 1978-79 despite firing primarily jumpers from mid-range and beyond. The 6-5 swingman started only 105 of the 711 games in which he appeared for Milwaukee, but averaged 13.9 ppg over his 10 Bucks seasons, during which he played a team-record 711 games. Bridgeman had his jersey No. 2 retired by the team Jan. 17, 1988.


Craig Hodges

Hodges came to Milwaukee on Sept. 29, 1984, along with Terry Cummings and Ricky Pierce from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Marques Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, Harvey Catchings and cash. The 6-3 guard out of Long Beach State University shot .348 from 3-point range in his first Milwaukee season, then emerged as one of the NBA’s premier trey shooters over the next several seasons, hitting at .451, .373 and .466 clips. Hodges appeared in the first eight NBA All-Star Three-Point Contests from 1986 to 1993 and won the contest in 1990, 1991 and 1992. He reached the final round in 1986, when he lost to Larry Bird, and in 1989, when he lost to Dale Ellis. Hodges holds the Three-Point Contest records for most consecutive shots made (19) and is tied for the most points scored in a single round (25, in 1986). His 3-point percentage of .404 ranks third in Milwaukee history.


Dale Ellis

Ellis was acquired by the Bucks on Feb. 15, 1991, in a deal with the Seattle SuperSonics for Ricky Pierce. The former University of Tennessee All-American, who wore a Milwaukee uniform during the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons and again in 1999-2000, stands atop the Bucks’ all-time 3-point percentage list at .413. The 6-7 forward/guard got the break of his career three years later when he was traded from the Dallas to Seattle and his scoring average escalated from 7.1 ppg with the Mavericks to 24.9 ppg with the SuperSonics. Like Bridgeman, he came off the bench in the majority of his games with the Bucks, making just 11 starts in 120 outings. He averaged 19.3 ppg and shot .441 from beyond the arc in his first season with the team and hit at a .413 clip over his three seasons as a Buck. He participated in the NBA 3-Point Shootout seven times and won the contest in 1989. He went into this season tied for eighth in NBA history in career 3-pointers made with 1,719.

 

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