Who Gets The Ball?
The spinning, game-winning shot Monta Ellis dropped on the Houston Rockets on the night of Feb. 27 will no doubt be a featured scene when the Milwaukee Bucks put together their 2012-13 season highlight reel.
Though Ellis' shot would have been a great reward for Bucks faithful had it taken place at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, it may have created a safety hazard there. The trajectory of Ellis' shot was so high that it may have knocked icicles off the building's rafters onto the celebration below.
One could page through the annals of Bucks history and be hard-pressed to find a better candidate to have launched such a shot. Ellis needed all of his athleticism and improvisational skills to not only react quickly enough to get in position to receive the pass, but step away from the defense, pivot on a dime, vault himself high enough into the air to get the ball over 6-foot-9-inch Chandler Parsons and finally put enough touch on the shot to send it through the net.
If you were appointed head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks and could call upon any member of the Bucks' all-time roster (in his Bucks prime) to go one-on-one with a game on the line, have the explosiveness and/or guile to get himself a shot and possess the touch and the nerves of steel to make it, who would it be?
In the first installment of a series, "Truman's Twelve" presents half of the dozen players Truman Reed would draft to get the job done.
Which players would you choose?
As dominant as the centerpiece of the Bucks' 1971 National Basketball Association was, he somehow doesn't get his due when today's pundits talk about the very best the game has ever seen. The former Lew Alcindor, after all, is the leading scorer in league history by a wide margin with his 38,387 points. He owns six championship rings. He was a six-time Most Valuable Player. And he was a 19-time NBA All-Star. During Abdul-Jabbar's six seasons with the Bucks, he averaged 30.4 points, 15.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game and shot .547 from the field. His "Sky-Hook" remains the most potent shot in the history of the game.
Many who witnessed Robertson in his prime still contend today that he was, pound-for-pound, the best player ever. He averaged a triple-double of 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists in 1961-62. He was a master of backing his man down until he got the shot he wanted, and more often than not, that shot went in. Though Robertson didn't join the Bucks until he was past his prime, he still possessed the strength, the savvy and the shooting prowess to make the big shot at crunch time. He averaged 19.4 points per game during Milwaukee's 1970-71 NBA championship season and was one of five Bucks who ranked among the league's top 10 in field-goal percentage that season.
The former University of South Carolina All-American was one of the four players acquired by Milwaukee from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Wesley in 1975. The 6-foot-4-inch guard had shown promise as a scorer in his rookie campaign with the Lakers, averaging 11.7 points a game, but he quickly took his game to another level when he arrived in Milwaukee, averaging between 18 and 20 points for four straight years on a balanced team. Few players in the Bucks' 44 years displayed the shooting range, the runner and the relentlessness drive on the offensive end of the court that Winters did during his eight seasons with Milwaukee.
Two seasons went by from the time the Bucks traded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the time that Johnson made his Milwaukee debut, but he was more responsible than anyone for returning the franchise to NBA prominence. Selected by the Bucks with the third overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft out of UCLA, the 6-foot-7-inch forward possessed a combination of power, speed, jumping ability, agility and shooting skill that has gone unmatched in franchise history. He burst onto the NBA scene to average 19.5 points and shoot .522 from the field in earning First-Team All-Rookie honors and averaged 21 points on .533 shooting over seven Bucks seasons.
Moncrief's impact on the franchise in many ways mirrored Marques Johnson's. The Bucks had slumped to a 38-44 record and missed the playoffs in 1978-79 before making the former University of Arkansas All-American the fifth overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-4-inch guard made only 10 starts in his rookie season, but helped build the Bucks back into Midwest Division champions. By his third pro season, the current Bucks assistant coach emerged as Milwaukee's leading scorer, a position he held four times over a five-year span – all while shooting better than .500 from the field. Mixing a potent mid-range jump shot with an uncanny ability to drive through defenses to score, Moncrief averaged better than 20 points per game in four consecutive seasons, and his Bucks teams won seven division titles during the 1980s.
One of the most prolific "instant offense" players in NBA history, Pierce started only 10 percent of the 460 games he played during his eight seasons with the Bucks, but ranks 11th on their all-time scoring list with 7,505 points and eighth in field-goal percentage at .516 – the highest of any Bucks guard. Pierce became a valuable reserve after being acquired along with Terry Cummings and Craig Hodges from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Marques Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, Harvey Catchings and cash in 1984, and he gradually stepped up his production to average 19.5 points or more three times in five seasons. He topped out at 22.5 points a game in 1990-91 to earn an NBA All-Star Game berth despite not starting a game that season.
Who is on your list? Leave it in the comments below.