82games.com just updated their statistical information and I used it to update the Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart. (Click Here to see the chart updated to 12-27-09).
If you do not know how to make sense of the information in the chart, there is a page dedicated to it in the column to the right.
Bucks have structural problems
I was really anticipating this update because I wanted to pin some responsibility somewhere for the Bucks woes. To be honest, I was with one of the commenters who speculated it could be Michael Redd’s fault. My information doesn’t suggest that. My information suggests its been a dip in the play of the players I refer to as the team’s “structural players”: SF Carlos Delfino, PF Hakim Warrick, PF/C Ersan Ilyasova, and SF/PF Luc Moute. Each of those 4 have seen a dramatic decline in their Player Win Averages over the last ten days, and that has really led to the Bucks slide.
Yes, Luke Ridnour’s numbers have declined but he really had nowhere to go but down. He is not an elite point guard, yet he was producing like one. The scary thing is, the team was relying on him to continue producing like one. Bad bet.
As for Mr. Redd, his play has actually improved drastically, but it could hardly have gotten worse. He’s still not at his normal production level, but at least there is now hope he might get there.
Don’t blame Tiny
Bogut and Jennings, the team’s mainstays, basically held at the level they were playing at the last time I updated the Bucks Win Chart on December 16th.
Sure, Bogut has regressed from the super season he had last season, but only half way back to his previously established average in the prior seasons (he was basically a .500% player prior to last season). I sort of expected he might do that. As athletes are fond of saying, “He is who he is”. Bogut struggles on some nights, and dominates on others. He’s not a bust, he’s a good center. But I don’t think there’s any chance he will ever be an elite center.
Point guard Brandon Jennings, I have no problem with (a little Yiddish sentence structure). Others I’m guessing do have a problem with him because, to paraphrase Denny Green, “he isn’t who they thought he was” (ESPN has taken to posting what I call “sarcastic statistics” for Jennings on their underscreen scroll. You know, unremarkable statistics with some negative emphasis — usually poor field goal shooting).
But I warned BucksNation against overinflated expectation. Without the hype, and considering his age and experience, Brandon Jennings is well outperforming any reasonable expectation at this point.
Of course when Homer True is claiming in November that you “saved the franchise”, and Jim Paschke spends a month referencing you into every aspect of every game, I’d say any notion of balance or “reason” pretty much flew out the window.
I also need to mention Charlie Bell, a player I frequently target for my ad hominem attacks. Bell is also playing well above my expectation and well above anyone else at his position and he deserves to keep getting minutes.
But the Bucks really need to get one or more of those aforementioned “structural players” going again. I think Delfino and Moute can reimprove, and I have hopes for Ilyasova, but I have to be honest with you: I hate Hakim Warrick. He’s never consistently produced strong “win” numbers, and I doubt he ever will. His game is mismatched with his body and with his talent. He basically has a “strong player” game without having the strength or efficiency needed to pull it off. The numbers he is putting up now are right in line with his career averages, so I don’t know.
In closing, I guess my question to Bucks management is this. When will the organization end its infatuation with “floor stretchers” (i.e. “We think ____ can really stretch the floor”) and finally invest in some “floor shrinkers”? You can’t have a winning team that cannot make two point field goals. This is the National Basketball Association, not the Euro League.