Milwaukee Bucks Media Day 2012: Projected Starters (Part III)


Welcome to Part III of my Bucks Media Day 2012 coverage, where you’ll hear from an optimistic (projected) starting lineup. Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Tobias Harris and Ersan Ilyasova all spoke to the media for five to ten minutes. Samuel Dalembert, however, didn’t take to the podium.

The fourth — and, I swear, final — part will be out soon and cover the rest of Milwaukee’s roster.

Without further ado, here are a few transcribed excerpts and full audio from the projected starters:

(Part I and Part II, if you missed them)

Brandon Jennings (click here for full audio)

On how the season will likely hinge on the starting backcourt:

"Everybody doesn’t want it to work. Everybody thinks it can’t work. We came to an agreement that we’ll sacrifice whatever just to win. Now that we have so much length back there, people can’t talk about our size and that it won’t be able to work, because we have damn near three 6’10” guys back there, and they can block anyone’s shot."

On whether he’s the face of the franchise:

"I wouldn’t say yes, and I wouldn’t say no. I am a leader. I’ve been here for four years. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘vet’ yet, but if any of the young guys want any advice, I would give it to them."

On the pressure on the organization with the coach and general manager in the last year of their contract:

"It’s pressure, but it’s good pressure. I think it’s going to bring out the best in all of us – the fact that everyone’s on the last year of their deal. Our mindset is not about ‘let’s try to get to the playoffs,’ but ‘we need to, and we need to do it now.’"

On how he’s grown as a player from last year to this year:

"My confidence is on a whole ‘nother level now. With the moves we made, having Monta on my side, if I don’t have it going, I know he’s going to have it going or somebody else. So, the confidence and mentality is just on a whole ‘nother level."

On the approaching contract extension deadline:

"With that situation, that’s why NBA players hire agents, so they can take care of that. Other than that, I’m just going to play basketball."

On whether the team needs an all-star to be a legitimate playoff team:

"All-stars are picked by fans and political stuff. As far as to be a playoff team, we just come in tomorrow and have to come in with the same mentality and focus. We just have to believe it. It doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks."

On the hardest part of last season:

"When we lost that game to the Knicks at home. We were battling for that top spot, and we couldn’t get over that hump. That’s really the toughest part – not getting over that hump, because we’re always, always close."

On where his pre-training camp “big brother, little brother” talk with Monta Ellis took place:

"We actually live in the same building. I’m on the 25th, he’s on the 24th. I told him if I’m making too much noise at night, just hit the broom [on the ceiling] and tell me I have to quiet down."

On what he specifically worked on this summer:

"I perfected the Steve Nash shot. I love it. It’s like my go-to move, you just can’t stop it."

Monta Ellis (click here for full audio)

On his leadership role this season:

"Whatever it takes – if that means I have to sacrifice, if that means going from 20 points to 15 points, if that means getting my assists up to nine or 10. Whatever it takes for this team to win, I’m willing to do it…This is not Monta Ellis, this is the Milwaukee Bucks, and we all rise up under the Milwaukee Bucks. At the end of the day, when we lose, everybody is accountable for it. The only thing I can do is lead by example and address an issue when it needs to be addressed."

On how he and Jennings make each other better:

Oct. 1, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis answers a question from the media during Milwaukee Bucks Media Day at the Bucks Training Center in Milwaukee. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

"We just have to work off each other. One night, he’ll have it going, and we just have to continue to go with that. Some nights, I’ll have it going. But my thing, to help with Brandon, is to keep the press and media out of his ears. Don’t let him feed into it. That’s the biggest thing with me and Brandon. Everything else, I don’t have to do anything. He knows how to play basketball, going into his fourth year, I don’t really have to tell him much. All I have to do is keep his mind focused."

On whether he and Jennings will need to score the ball in order for the team to succeed:

"We don’t need to do that. We have length now. We have guys who we can throw the ball into and can score the basketball. We have young guys who are hungry, who have talent. Me and Brandon don’t have to score 25 points or 30 points to win, we don’t have to do that anymore. When it comes to the defensive end, the only thing we have to do is hold our man to four or five dribbles, and if they go to the basket, we have our big guys back there to wipe them out. As long as we don’t open the door for them to go all the way to the basket and get our big men in foul trouble, that’s the biggest thing we need to do."

On playing under Scott Skiles last season:

"It was different. Me coming from Golden State and coming to the style of Scott Skiles was different, but I can adjust to any situation. That’s all I had to do was make an adjustment. As far as being here, with the players, and playing under Scott Skiles, I love it."

Tobias Harris (click here for full audio)

Oct. 1, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Tobias Harris participates in a media interview during Milwaukee Bucks media day at the Bucks Training Center in Milwaukee. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

On adding weight this summer:

"I put about eight pounds of muscle on, just to get a little bit bigger and stronger for the season."

On how he would define a breakout year:

"As a player, I look at it by the team results. For me, a breakout year would be getting into the playoffs and having a good season."

On what Summer League meant to him:

"It just showed that the sky’s the limit and that the time I’ve put in definitely did pay off. It’s a confidence booster for me, also, going into this season."

Ersan Ilyasova (click here for full audio)

On his newfound love for golf:

"I’m not any good at it, but I’m really glad I hit a couple balls. That was my first time."

On whether money was the determining factor when he re-signed with the Bucks:

"No, it’s not just about money. It’s all different contexts…I’m really glad it worked out this way. My kids have grown up in Milwaukee, my wife is from Milwaukee, and I know the team and coaches really well. It’s a really good thing that I’m still in Milwaukee and to be a Milwaukee Bucks player. Oct. 1, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; US Senator Herbert Kohl (D), owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, chats with Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova during Milwaukee Bucks Media Day at the Bucks Training Center in Milwaukee. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE"

On the new acquisitions lessening the rebounding burden:

"Definitely. When you look at last season, we lost a lot of close games where we just didn’t get an offensive rebound. We really struggled with length, even Drew Gooden and myself were playing in the five spot. It was kind of tough.  This season we have a lot of length, guys who can block shots, and it will help us defensively."

A few other things of note:

  • Jennings was visibly upbeat. He seemed genuinely excited about the offseason acquisitions and the approaching season.
  • I overhead Jennings, while tapping his stomach, tell Gery Woelfel that he gained 15 pounds this summer, up from 175 to 190. This should help Jennings score more efficiently at the rim, which is something he already made significant strides at last season.
  • It was refreshing to hear Ellis say he’s willing to score less and distribute the ball more. Yet, with this likely being a contract year for Ellis (he can and will likely opt out after this season), there might be a conflict of interest there.
  • Ellis said that Jennings’ defense is underrated. Scott Skiles didn’t exactly agree.
  • Jennings, with the whole “all-stars are picked by fans and political stuff,” still appears to be bitter about his all-star snub.