“New” Bucks resemble the “Crooklyn Era” Knicks

Now, here me out, I’m not alleging the 2010 Milwaukee Bucks are the modern day equivalent of  the legendary 1969-1973 New York Knickerbockers, but I think the Bucks’ new makeup and style since the All-Star break bears a certain resemblance to that favorite team of a young Spike Lee.  Here’s how.

Winning with defense and just enough offense

The New York Knicks somehow won two Worlds Championships in a five year span without really having any offense to speak  of.  They did it with overpowering team defense.

Like those Knicks, the Bucks leader is a hardworking, fairly unathletic, but nevertheless effective “basket guarder” at center (Bogut’s Marginal Win Score numbers are quite similar to Willis Reed as well, as you can see on the Historical Win Chart linked to below), both teams relied heavily on jump shooters at the perimeter positions (Delfino’s game is very reminiscent of  Bill Bradley’s, with much better rebounding), each had a scrappy, productive, undersized, “role player” at power forward (though Moute needs a whole lot more game to be as good as Dave Debusschere was), and both had a lightning quick defensive ace at the point guard (though Brandon Jennings defensive style is not nearly as physical as Walt Frazier’s and his offense can’t come close to matching the Glide’s… yet).

Plus, Scott Skiles has instilled the Bucks defense with the same “whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-parts” quality and the “one heartbeat” team philosophy out of which Bill Bradley made a successful political career.

Now here’s where it breaks down.  In order to truly make the “Crooklyn” Knicks model work  to championship level, the Bucks will have to crank their defense way, way up.  The Knicks of that era played defense on a whole different level.

Here is my “Team/Oppo Win Score Averages” for the NBA Finalists of the early 70’s.  As you can see, the New York Knicks Team Win Score (roughly, their offensive efficiency) was  just slightly above average, but their Oppo Win Score (roughly, their defensive efficiency) was on a whole different plane.   You can see that simply by comparing their Oppo WS averages to the same produced by every other NBA Finalist of  the Era.  No one else was even close.

And the Knicks had to be that powerful on defense, because their offense was not that good (the ’69-’70 Lakers Team Win Score is very deceptive.  Wilt Chamberlain was out most of the season, and then came back for the last part and the playoffs.  In reality they had a much, much higher Team WS average).

But hey, the Knicks rode that style to 3 NBA Finals, and as I mentioned, 2 World’s Championships, in a four year span.  And the one season in the “Crooklyn” Era that the Knicks did not make the Finals, it was only because of a monumental upset at the hands of the mediocre ’70-’71 Baltimore Bullets (I happen to have made a crude Win Chart for that ’70-’71 New York Knick team which dates back to when I first started experimenting with “Historical” Marginal Win Score. You can click here to see it.)

So don’t knock it.  If you have to be lopsided, and the small market Bucks almost assuredly do, then wicked defense is the the way to go.  Its just a hard, very hard, feat to pull off.  But if anyone can coax that kind of defense, I’m beginning to believe Scott Skiles can.  How long would he be able to sustain it?  Well, history tells a different story about that.  But that’s a problem for another day.


4 Responses to ““New” Bucks resemble the “Crooklyn Era” Knicks”

  1. Abe Says:

    I know that Skilles has been given the axe in other places, but does something tell you that this Bucks team won’t stand up and demand new deals, start playing for themselves. The only person I could see doing that would be Jennings quite frankly. What do you think?

    • tywill33 Says:


      Its not the new deals, its the new attitudes that winning spawns.

      And, I think that once the team is successful, the fans will side with the coach. More later…

      • Abe Says:

        But those attitudes, do you see then changing? I just don’t see any bad seeds on this roster, sans potentially Jennings. Phoenix had Amare, Chicago had Ben Wallace. Who does Milwaukee have that will have an attitude change.

  2. Blake Says:

    Would you mind doing that March Madness analysis of teams that you did last year? Hopefully we’ll have better luck this year.

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