Some teams get by on athleticism while some focus on fundamental play. Others live and die by the three. Regardless of a team’s primary designation, the highest levels of success can only be achieved through chemistry.
Fittingly, chemistry is integral to one of today’s most critically-acclaimed television programs. But the science-y kind, not the type associated with joint effort – although that is a main storyline on Breaking Bad, too.
With the AMC *ahem* cooking drama recently wrapping up its fifth season** and NBA training camp starting in early October, there is no better time to combine the two. The secondary reason for this universally perfect timing? Well, it is September, the low tide of basketball news.
The Bucks will be vying – thrashing, fighting, clawing – for a playoff seed this season after missing out on postseason activity for two consecutive years. The front office did not do enough summer tinkering to call Milwaukee a “new-look” squad, but only eight of the 14 players on the Bucks’ active roster spent all of last season in Wisconsin. Two more wore a different jersey for over half of their games before coming onboard in a trade.
Add two rookies and two new centers to the mix and, yes, chemistry becomes a question. Using
a completely original, never-before-seen an old standby technique, let’s explore the members of the Bucks’ rotation by comparing them to those found in Breaking Bad’s ensemble.
Brandon Jennings is Walter White
Jennings believes himself to be the face of the franchise, and rightly so. He’s the highest regarded player drafted by the Bucks in years that has avoided being traded. The offense, by and large, starts at Jennings’ point guard position and flows based on his decisions. So, too, goes the story of Walter White, the plotting pivot-point of the Breaking Bad universe. White may lack the flashy haircuts, but his crotchety school teacher chic is all the rage among young NBA talents including Jennings, who has been featured in GQ several times. Another similarity? They’re both known to drive unstylish vehicles.
Ersan Ilyasova is Walt, Jr.
Ilyasova would dwarf Walter’s teenage son if the two stood side by side. But comparing only headshots, the two are hardly distinguishable. After spending the majority of his first stint with the Bucks in the D-League, Ersan returned from Spain as an über-efficient forward. Walt, Jr.’s trajectory has seen him rise from a minor character at the series’ inception to one worthy of more screen time.
Larry Sanders is Gale Boetticher
Sanders has potential and showed spurts of defensive magnificence last season, and is still Milwaukee’s youngest center. Gale was, for a time, Walt’s slightly younger successor-in-waiting. All they need is time and a little more ferocity to make the impact their employers expected upon investment.
Joel Przybilla is Mike Ehrmantraut
Long, confusing last names aside, both keep their hair cropped close to the scalp or, in Mike’s case, gone all together. Think that’s weak deduction? Well, it definitely is, but in his eleventh NBA season, Przybilla was traded into a less-than-desirable situation (What’s up, Bobcats?) and had understandable reluctance upon arriving. Though he eventually came to terms with his surroundings, Joel decided to leave after playing a mere five games for Charlotte and aggravating an old knee injury. To say that Mike has his share of scars and war stories is an understatement, and when it comes down to it, entering into all partnerships with Walter White are scary, but having the palm of Michael Jordan, General Manager on your career’s pulse is downright horrifying.
Monta Ellis is Jesse Pinkman
Already possessing some degree of comfort in Milwaukee after spending nearly half of last season with the Bucks, Ellis is a volatile guard capable of high-energy offensive outbursts. Anyone familiar with Breaking Bad knows Pinkman is a fan of profanity-laced tirades that tend to erupt when he’s pushed a little too far. Jesse’s relationship with Walt dates back to his high school days as an inattentive student who dabbled in petty activities, but their lives truly intertwined when Walter needed an infusion of cash after Pinkman’s years of secondary education. Monta, of course, bypassed college and leapt to the pro circuit directly after high school. Maybe the strongest link, however, is that they share a soft spot for underprivileged children and improve select kids’ lives as much as possible.
Luc Mbah a Moute is Gustavo Fring
Both are very good at imposing their wills on others: Luc, defensively, and Gus in a much grander, but equally physical way. Both immigrated to America to further their respective dreams. His official Bucks bio states that Mbah a Moute is a prince in his village of origin. While Gus is not a prince, he worked his way into a position of power among illicit operators. Luc cannot be called a dirty player, but what, pray tell, is less appreciated: working your tail off to excel on the vastly overlooked defensive end of a sporting occupation, or working in the fast food business?
Ekpe Udoh is Skinny Pete
Really? Is an explanation needed? No way does Pete wear a size 16 shoe, but these guys could probably bond over takeout and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reruns.
Tobias Harris is Skyler White
It had to happen to someone, Tobias. She’s an important character, you know? Harris was a surprise pick when the Bucks drafted him in 2011 – one who appeared versatile but lacks one defining characteristic on tape. No matter, his outward persona defies you to find another 20-year-old who is as polished and professional. Walter’s sometimes-estranged wife, Skyler, strives to look like she has everything under control, too, but doesn’t always achieve the same results as Harris. Mrs. White has a variety of skills that lend themselves to different jobs, but is never the most important player in the cast. This has been a rough paragraph. Sorry, Tobias.
Mike Dunleavy is DJ Qualls
Technically, Qualls played the role of Getz on Breaking Bad for one episode. In our hearts, though, we knew who he really was. Dunleavy is a tall, slender guy who has definitely been in kicked in the face during a basketball game whether YouTube has the video or not. More recently, Dunleavy’s face met a soccer ball courtesy of Elton Brand. While only 6’1”, Qualls appears taller because of his wire-thin frame and sports similarly floppy hair. What’s more surprising is that a Google image search for Qualls will turn up a (Photoshopped) picture of him with very defined abs. This may lead you to search for a comparative picture of a shirtless Dunleavy, which is not recommended.
Beno Udrih is Kuby
Udrih has been a career backup, excepting his time in Sacramento even though he never started all 82 games in any of his four seasons there. He serves a purpose by relieving those in front of him on the depth chart, and will do what no other reserve can do this season as the only point guard on the bench. Kuby is one of the most minor characters with a recurring role, essentially doing dirty work on the Whites’ behalf because no one else wants the jobs he’s assigned. He’s the kind of guy who looks* like he could be an environmental inspector, and so is Udrih.
Doron Lamb is Hank Schrader
The Bucks’ second round pick is not ideal. He’s not properly sized to play shooting guard and lacks the necessary handles to run point for an NBA team. The saving grace is that Doron is good at what he does, namely shooting the long ball and finishing at the rim when the opportunity presents itself. Schrader is tough, something Lamb will have to be on this new level of play. Hank is also an ace DEA agent, able to piece together little things well enough to be a major asset to his team. Deeply flawed though he may be, Hank’s blood runs cold. That same disposition could lead to buzzer beaters, if Lamb is given the chance.
Samuel Dalembert is Carlos Delfino
Really. That’s what the Bucks’ website says.
John Henson is also Skinny Pete
He’s DJ Qualls, too, but without the hair.
Drew Gooden is Tuco Salamanca
This is another obvious connection to make. Gooden, for all his triple-doubles and scoring outbursts, is not the most consistent Buck, unless we’re talking about consistently weird hair. Although there’s no noted evidence of him doing so, Gooden seems like the kind of guy who would extinguish a lit cigarette with his tongue, which is something Tuco did. Salamanca is about getting what he thinks is his; Drew used 25.7 percent of the Bucks’ plays when he was on the floor last season.
**I have not seen anything from season five and risked reading spoilers at every angle in order to write this.