Jake's Take: 10/05/10

October, 5, 2010
Bucks vs. Bulls Preseason [Box Score & Highlights]
Jake LeRoy [@JakesTake34]

Piecing the Puzzle Together

CLICK 'N ROLL:
  • A Few Small Birthday Requests
  • NBA Jam, You Complete Me
  • Junior Bridgeman
  • Team Chemistry
  • Inspiring the Undersized
  • Most Likely To...
  • Practiced What He Preaches
  • Bucks Beat Features
  • There's no such thing as too much depth. That's a ridiculous notion and one my fingers were barely able to type. It does come with certain complications, though, like determining a rotation. This year's Milwaukee Bucks make for an excellent example. When a roster boasts 12 players who could legitimately lay claim to significant minutes - like the Bucks - it becomes quite a task deciding who should actually get those highly-coveted minutes. That's where the preseason comes in handy.

    On-court chemistry and balance are two factors that should come into play when determining who sees the court and who rides the pine. A coach needs to determine what lineups produce the best results and give each individual player the greatest chance for success. A mismatched lineup hurts the team and the players.

    The first example that popped into my head was the amazing on-court chemistry Toni Kukoc and Dan Gadzuric shared throughout Kukoc's last two years in Milwaukee. Minutes in which Gadzuric was on the court without Kukoc were few and far between, and for good reason. Kukoc simply made Gadzuric a better player. The Dunkin' Dutchman has never been able to create much offense for himself, but the Croatian Sensation made it so he didn't have to. Kukoc knew where Gadzuric liked the ball and he knew how to get it there. Alley-oops between Kukoc and Gadzuric seemed to occur on a nightly basis.

    These are the kind of connections that Scott Skiles has to unearth during the preseason. He needs to find which players mesh well, and which players don't. Gadzuric probably wouldn't have had near the success he had if not for Kukoc. There are likely multiple Kukoc/Gadzuric-like connections on the current roster. They just need to be uncovered and milked for all they're worth.

    It remains to be seen, but maybe Keyon Dooling and Larry Sanders develop the kind of on-court chemistry that produces numerous easy baskets. Or maybe that chemistry comes from a John Salmons and Andrew Bogut pick-and-roll, or a Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova pick-and-pop. The possibilities are many, but the realities are likely few, making Skiles' task all the more difficult.

    The other factor - balance - is equally as important. Putting too many players with the same skill set on the court at the same time will make competing against that five all the more easier. A lineup stacked with non-shooters allows the opposition to pack the defense into the paint and force those non-shooters to hit jump shots. A lineup with five middling defenders gives the opposing offense numerous easy buckets. These kinds of lineups can be remedied by replacing a non-shooter with someone who has range, or by subbing Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in for anybody.

    This is where defining those rotations becomes even more difficult. Not only do you have to determine what players play well with each other, but you have to make sure they don't duplicate deficiencies. A given tandem may perform miracles on the offensive end, but if they're both poor defenders, they'll cancel out the points they scored by allowing them right back on the other end.

    This kind of dilemma, while a good one, has to drive coaching staffs crazy. It becomes even more difficult when a coach has to integrate nine new players, not unlike the predicament Skiles is currently facing. I don't envy the decisions Skiles has ahead of him, but at the same time, it's a good problem to have. I look forward to seeing what unfolds over the course of the preseason, and what effect it has on the regular season.

    In-game Musings

    • I tried to hide my excitement, but I failed miserably. Upon walking into the Bradley Center, I tried to play it cool. I've been here before. It's no big deal. It's like any other game. No reason to get excited. But then it happened. A sense of joy and happiness quickly swept over me and my stoic demeanor transformed into full-on giddiness. It's like when you're sitting in a quiet room and somebody cuts the cheese. You don't want to chuckle or smile because it's immature and childish to do so. But then you revert back to your childhood and break out into a hysteretic bout of laughter. And yes, I did just compare the 2010-11 Bucks season to a fart.
    • Jon Brockman surprises no one by getting his first floor burn of the season within the first two minutes of the game. I get the feeling that will be first of many. I can't shake the feeling that at some point this season it will appear as though Brockman is wearing a red leg sleeve. It will actually be an impressive collection of floor burns that covers an entire leg.
    • Larry Sanders first stint as a Buck went pretty well. He netted a 15- and 18-footer, dropped in a running hook and pulled down a pair of boards. Skiles was forced into some sideline coaching on occasion, positioning Sanders as the play was happening. He also unnecessarily left his feet a couple of times on defense. All things considered, though, not a bad opening stretch.
    • Last season I begged and pleaded for the Bucks to pump fake, and then lean into the airborne defender. I despise the move on so many levels, especially when the opposition does it and draws a cheap foul, but I can't dispute its effectiveness. Well, it looks like the Bucks may have found themselves a skillful practitioner. Drew Gooden adeptly used the move on two occasions in the first half, drawing one foul and converting both freebies.
    • There's no doubt that the Bradley Center's new Jumbotron is bigger, brighter and much clearer than last year's edition. It fits the arena well, too. I don't think anything bigger would be necessary. It would probably actually be a detriment to the overall viewing experience. I can't even imagine glancing at that monstrosity in Cowboys Stadium. It would eclipse the entire other side of the stadium. It might be proportionally equal to the BC's newest addition, but I doubt it. Besides, it's not the size of the Jumbotron that matters. It's how you use it.
    • Squad 6 may have been relocated this year, but they continue to bring their same trademark enthusiasm for Bucks basketball. Now located behind the basket on the Bucks end of the court, Squad 6 berated Joakim Noah and the rest of the Bulls like only it can. Per the usual, the members of Squad 6 set the tone for the deciding fourth quarter with an animated rendition of "Ole, Ole Ole Ole," showing no rust whatsoever.
    • Chicago's Kyle Korver is an odd player. He's as automatic as they come when coming off screens and getting an open look, as evidenced by his 7-for-10 shooting from the perimeter. Get him around the rim, though, and he becomes a hot mess of a player. He looks completely out of his element if he's anywhere inside 15 feet of the hoop. His two attempts in the lane were eerily reminiscent of the pregame matchup between area youngsters. He's just flailing around hoping something good happens.

    Closing It Out
    The Milwaukee roster may look drastically different than last year, but the results are still the same, at least for tonight. There's certainly a lot that needs to be "cleaned up," as Mike McCarthy might say, but there was more than enough to like about this game. First and foremost, they won, shot better than 50 percent and outrebounded Chicago 40-27 despite Bogut, Salmons and Corey Maggette in street clothes. Granted, the Bulls were without Carlos Boozer, but the Bucks were without who will likely be their three leading scorers. Also encouraging was the play of backup point guards Dooling and Earl Boykins. Jennings struggled through most of the game, but Dooling and Boykins provided more than enough, combining for 26 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with six assists and zero turnovers.

    The one glaring area of needed improvement is ball security. Preseason games are typically sloppy, but this was about as messy as it comes. Nine players committed at least one turnover and the Bucks committed 23 as a team. Milwaukee was one of the league's best in ball control last year with just over 13 turnovers per game, but they've got a long way to go to get back to that number.

    No matter how this game concluded, words cannot aptly describe how utterly awesome it is to have Bucks basketball back in full swing. It's been far too long, and I don't know if I could've lasted another week without getting my fix. I can now sleep soundly, free of any late-night withdrawal symptoms.

    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.