SI.com: Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward charts the convolutions in the Bucks rotation following the inconsistent play of their original starting frontcourt and injuries to their most productive bench players.
Aside from Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, virtually every Buck has been shuffled in and out of the mix in Skiles’ pursuit of a winning combination. It’s almost impossible to predict how many minutes each player might log (or what form Skiles’ lineups might take) from one game to the next, and it’s not at all uncommon to see a player go from big minutes to a DNP-CD in a few days. Nothing is given, and no role is secure. Skiles simply cranks the carousel as he sees fit.
Mahoney then sets it to motion, literally, using Google Motion. The chart is quite a sight to see. Skiles has used 14 players in key roles this season — everyone save for poor Drew Gooden — even Joel Przybilla got an unexpected start when Samuel Dalembert fell tardy.
SBNation: Tom Ziller argues that the Bucks should slow down. Ziller cites the fact that the Bucks rank fourth in the NBA in pace, 22nd in offensive efficiency, then goes on to note that their two top players, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, are a disaster from an efficiency standpoint.
That’s a bad mix. Playing up-tempo creates more possessions in a game. The more possessions that are in a game, the more likely it is that streaks will even out, play will regress to the mean and the expected will happen. It’s similar to short playoff series vs. long ones: you were much more likely to have upsets in a one-game playoff or a best-of-five series than a best-of-seven. That’s why a strategy of bad teams is to “shrink” the game; fewer possessions increases the chance for an upset.
So playing fast has made the Bucks less efficient? Slowing it down would help them win?
I would argue that Ziller has mistaken correlation for causation here, but I’m not sure he even got close enough to spot a correlation; the Bucks average 97.4 possessions in their wins and 95.1 possessions in their losses. They simply play better when they play faster. GM John Hammond has tailored his roster to that style of play.
The Bucks are built around small, shifty guards and leanish interior players with windmill arms. Those players are not suited for a slow-down, bump-and-grind game. Yes, the Bucks are fast. Yes, the Bucks are as inefficient as the next low-trajectory Monta Ellis 22-footer. Slowing the game down, though, is not the answer.
Let them play fast and ugly.
Bucksketball: Jeremy Schmidt sees Larry Sanders having a breakout season. With Sanders quickly becoming the best shot-blocker in the league, it has been easy to overlook the strides he has made as a rebounder.
It’s also apparent how much more care he’s rebounding with. He’s grabbing the ball high above his head with both hands very often now. The way Scott Skiles talks about Sanders and those rebounds specifically leave little doubt that the coaching staff has been drilling into him since he’s arrive to grab the ball strong over his head with both hands when he rebounds. He’s executing on that plan now like never before and he’s improved a ton as a rebounder.
Of course, he is also still one of the top foulers (and technical foulers) in the league. When he has stayed on the court, though, he has played magnificently.
Youtube: This link has nothing to do with the Bucks per se, except for the fact that Byron Mullens seems to save his best games for them. He torched them last season with a 32-point game and this season a fourth-quarter performance worthy of a misguided double-team.
Then this dunk happened last week and the Bucks play the Bobcats tonight and well… I’m nervous.
Hoopdata: It’s time for fun stats, starring Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova, and Mike Dunleavy!
Monta Ellis has attempted one more three-pointer (60) than Mike Dunleavy (59). Gasp.
Ersan Ilyasova has exactly half as many blocked shots (5) as Monta Ellis (10). I’d like to blame this on Ersan trying to take charges on approximately 99.44% of opponent drives to the hoop., but prepare to gasp again.
Although it’s not an official stat, the NBA’s league leader in charges drawn is… Monta Ellis! He has drawn nine charges this season. Dunleavy (7) and Ilyasova (6) are in the top-15 with Ellis.