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Tag:Roy Hibbert
Posted on: December 14, 2010 9:25 am
Edited on: December 14, 2010 11:26 am
 

Shootaround 12.14.10: Respect and disrespect

Magic says the Pistons are soft, Roy Hibbert has great hands, and Noah meets the Worm, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore

  • So remember when the Pacers traded for Darren Collison and he was supposed to be their point guard of the future, taking them to the next level?  Well, they've gotten to the next level, suddenly in a position to contend for a playoff spot. But Collison has been left in the dirt, and can't quite figure out why . People who weren't blown away by Collison's numbers last season questioned his poise and defensive stature, and it would appear those same elements are what is keeping T.J. Ford and A.J. Price in heavy minutes. Who would have thought the Pacers would have a point guard overflow a year ago?
  • Roy Hibbert has turned into quite the passing big man because of his time spent this summer with Bill Walton.  8 Points, 9 Seconds breaks down what's helped him improve , and his confidence has been as important as his quick decision making. There's something to be said for simply going with your instincts instead of debating yourself into a bad posssession. It's that All-Around play that has to leave you wondering... is Hibbert an All-Star this season? One guy who doesn't think so? His coach .
Posted on: December 10, 2010 2:50 pm
 

The NBA Quarterly All-Star Teams

Posted by Royce Young



It's never too early to start thinking about the All-Star Game. Well, I take that back. It probably is too early. But I wrote the body of this post before the intro so I'm pressing on anyway.

We're a quarter of the way done with the 2010-11 NBA season. Everybody has at least 20 games under their belt. We've learned a lot. The Heat can be good, the Spurs are great, the Lakers oddly struggle at times, Blake Griffin is exciting and Boston won't let you score... ever.

But on top of that, a few players have started that whole breakout thing. And a lot of the old good ones have stayed really good. The NBA truly has a ridiculous amount of talent right now. Seriously, this is a great time for the league. Except for that lockout stuff but I'm not going to mention that.

So because I think a lot about non-important things like the All-Star Game and Chick-Fil-A sauce, I began to notice how tough it's going to be to narrow down a 12-man roster for both conference. If there were an At The Quarter All-Star Team, it would already be quite a task to select that.

So naturally, here's my At The Quarter All-Star Teams:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Starters:
PG: Deron Williams (21.8 ppg, 10.1 apg)
I'd say the starting Western point guard spot is the toughest to pick in the whole league. Look at the candidates: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry. But Williams is the starters right now because he's commandeering an elite Western team, along with having terrific numbers.

SG: Kobe Bryant (26.6 ppg, 4.5 apg)
Kobe is the type of player that will probably be an All-Star Game starter for life since the fans vote make that happen, but it's well-deserved at this point. He's second in the league in scoring and is having a classic Kobe season. Big shots, big plays and big numbers on the biggest stage.

SF: Kevin Durant (27.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
By his standards, he's struggled a bit. His percentages are a bit down, he's missed a few games because of an ankle sprain and then a sore knee and he's seen his teammate Russell Westbrook steal some of his Thunder. But KD still leads the league in scoring and is still the leader on a very good Thunder team.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki (24.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
If I were voting, Dirk would be getting my MVP vote. Which would be weird because the season's only 25 percent done and I also don't have a vote. But Dirk is having one of his finest seasons and leading the hottest and second best team in the league (tied with Boston at 17-4). The Mavericks have found a new identity behind defense and ball pressure, but Dirk is the same old awesome Dirk.

C: Blake Griffin (20.0 ppg, 11.7 rpg)
Remember when the West used to be so stacked with big men that figuring out the starting front court was a nightmare? It's not that way anyone. There's been a shift to point guard in the West for those issues. But really, who do you start here? The best "center" is probably Tyson Chandler and maybe Al Jefferson right now. Both have been good, but I'm going to fudge and give it to Griffin. His numbers are worthy at 20-12, but he's everything that an All-Star should be. He has the league buzzing, every night is a potential highlight-fest and he's the most can't-miss guy going. To me, if we're selecting an All-Star team right now, he's got to be on it.

Bench:
Russell Westbrook, PG: Westbrook leads Western point guards in scoring, plus he's got better "LeBron" numbers than LeBron at 23.7 ppg, 8.6 apg and 5.5 rpg.

Chris Paul, PG: Weird to have CP3 on the bench considering he's in the top two or three for MVP, but again, the West is stacked. His team's little slide lately isn't helping either.

Manu Ginobili, SG: The best team in the league doesn't have an MVP candidate? Who says so? Because Manu is certainly playing like one, at least in my mind.

Monta Ellis, SG: Ellis barely gets the nod over Eric Gordon who is also having a really good year. They score virtually the same amount but Ellis has simply been a bit more efficient.

Luis Scola, PF: The Rockets may be struggling and disappointing, but Scola hasn't. Coming off a big World Championships where he raised expectations for himself, Scola has lived up to it in every way.

Kevin Love, PF: He's leading the league in rebounding, and it's not close (15.5 per game, Joakim Noah is next at 12.3). This season there have been 11 20-20 games. Love has six of them.

Tyson Chandler, C: The last spot is where things get a bit hairy. Chandler has been having a re-birth of a season with the Mavericks, protecting the rim and playing solid offense. And just barely does he get the nod of Al Jefferson for the lone center on the roster simply because playing both ends counts for something.

Tough cuts: Stephen Curry, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Starters:
PG: Derrick Rose (25.1 ppg, 8.1 apg)
Rose wondered why he couldn't be an MVP candidate before the season. And there's no doubt he should be, if only he could get his team to win a few more games. But he leads all point guards in scoring (fourth in the league) and is dishing out a career-high assist average. Rose is the total package right now at point and really, one of the top two or three players in the entire conference.

SG: Dwyane Wade (22.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
His numbers are down a bit, but there's an obvious reason why. I'll be honest, if there was another really impressive shooting guard in the East, Wade wouldn't be such a lock. But because the East is pretty thin there (Stephen Jackson? Ray Allen? Vince Carter?) Wade is the starter by default.

SF: LeBron James (24.1 ppg, 7.3 apg)
Despite what his numbers say, he's still the most talented and gifted player in the game. And it's not like the stats aren't excellent anyway. He's just set a bar so high for himself there that all of a sudden 24-7-5 doesn't look so great.

PF: Amar'e Stoudemire (25.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg)
Not only are the Knicks winning, but Amar'e has been fairly awesome this season. He's third in the league in scoring and has just broken a franchise record held by Bernand King for most consecutive games with 30 points (six). That's like, pretty good.

C: Dwight Howard (20.9 ppg, 12.1 rpg)
Forget the fact there's not a ton of competition here. Howard has maybe been the most productive NBA player this season. He's scoring at a career-high rate, plus putting up his typical big rebounding and blocked shots numbers. His developing post game is no joke and he's becoming the total package at center.

Bench:
Rajon Rondo, PG: His 14.1 assists per game are obviously eye-catching, but he's also turning it over 4.0 times a game, second in the league.

Raymond Felton, PG: Yep, seriously. He's playing on a winning club and his numbers are great! No really, they are! Look at them, I promise I'm not lying!

Ray Allen, SG: Nothing spectacular from the league's best shooter, but his stats are solid, his team is good and he's already hit a number of big shots just a quarter of the way in.

Danny Granger, SF: Come real selection time, he might get squeezed for a bigger name, but he's made the team once. He's a great scorer and now that he's on a decent team, he's deserving.

Kevin Garnett, PF: As long as he's still moving his way up and down the court, he's an All-Star. Plus, don't look, but he's actually having a pretty darn good season.

Roy Hibbert, C: A chic pick for Most Improved, the 7'3 Pacer big man has a well-developed game. Post moves, power moves and even a distance jumpshot.

Andrea Bargnani, C: Probably a stretch especially since Al Horford likely deserves it more, but Barge Nanny is sixth in the East in scoring and in his last few games has really looked fantastic, punctuated by a 41-point explosion against the Knicks Wednesday.

Tough cuts: Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Paul Pierce, John Wall, Shaquille O'Neal
Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:15 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 5:18 pm
 

Two old beasts of the East are coming back

Posted by Royce Young

Every season, there's a surprise team. Somebody not many people picked as having much of a shot that positions itself for a playoff run. In the Eastern Conference, it's not all that hard. Wiggling into either the seventh or eighth seed doesn't require the best of seasons.

So that's why before the 2010-11 campaign even started, teams like the Knicks and Pacers had a cautiously optimistic view of the season. But here we are at the quarter mark and wouldn't you know it, both teams are positioned in the top eight in the East. It's early yet, but there's reason for hope in both cities right now.

But before you get too pumped up Knicks fans, consider that New York has had a pretty favorable schedule the past few weeks. After dropping six straight and to 3-8 overall, the Knicks ripped off five in a row, then lost and now are on another five-game streak. They've won 10 of 11 and have pushed their record to 13-9.

In that stretch however, only one of the teams the Knicks defeated had a winning record, and that's the slipping Hornets. The one "good" team New York played, it lost to at home (Atlanta). So maybe everyone should just chill for a second. Still though, winning in the NBA isn't easy and these are games the Knicks wouldn't have won last season. Beating average and bad teams is the start to a playoff run and that's what New York is doing.

The Pacers on the other hand, have stayed relatively consistent throughout the season. Unlike the Knicks, there hasn't been the peaks and valleys. The longest losing streak for Indiana is two and the longest winning streak is two. The Pacers have beat good teams, including the Lakers at Staples, the Heat in Miami and the Nuggets. For the most part though they're losing to the good teams, beating the bad and splitting with the average. But again, a major step forward for them

So what's making the difference for each squad this season? A couple things:

THE KNICKS
Improved defense - The key word here is "improved." It's not great (109.1 in defensive rating, 20th in the league), but it's better. They lead the league in blocks and it's clear they work really, really hard. The defense isn't going to be winning them games. But it might not be losing them any either.

Raymond Felton
- You probably haven't realized how well Felton is playing. I don't blame you. I didn't notice until the other day. He's eighth in the league in assists per game (8.5) and seventh in scoring for point guards per game (18.1). He's hitting 37.6 percent from 3 and has a career-high percentage from the field. Felton is easily putting together his best year as a pro. It helps to have Amar'e Stoudemire and Mike D'Antoni's system, but a player has to play well, and Felton is.

Role players - Rookie Landry Fields has been stellar off the bench and now in his starting role. Toney Douglas has provided them an outside spark. Shawne Williams in just five games has made an immediate impact. The Knicks are finally getting contribution from their bench and it's making a difference. They only have one star in Stoudemire, but the cast of extras is what's making it work.

Amar'e - He came to New York to be big time and Stoudemire has played that way. He's had 30 points in five straight games and is averaging a career-high 25.3 points per game. He's meshed well with Felton and is actually playing some of the better defense of his career. Not saying a ton, but he's working. Also, Stoudemire - and the whole team for that matter - is getting to the line more than ever, making the offense look even better than it is.

THE PACERS
Defense - Does this team kind of feel like a surprise group from last season? Young, tough, competitive and surprisingly sound on the defensive end? Aren't the Pacers a bit like the 2009-10 Thunder in some ways? Danny Granger isn't Kevin Durant, but this team is winning behind a strong, disciplined defensive structure. They are seventh in defensive rating and that number is climbing.

Roy Hibbert - Hibbert completely transformed himself over the offseason. He dropped weight, added muscle and refined an already quality post game. He's probably the top candidate for Most Improved right now really. He's huge at 7'3 and has become one of the premier big men in the entire league. Hibbert is averaging 15.5 ppg and 8.6 rpg, but he's also dishing out over three assists a night. He's a difference maker and someone the Pacers are riding right now.

Josh McRoberts - At one point, McRoberts was the punchline to a lot of jokes. Now he's a legit starting NBA power forward. His numbers aren't spectacular, but he works hard, hustles and is a good post defender. After the Pacers traded Troy Murphy to acquire point guard Darren Collison most felt Indiana needed another big man to be anywhere close to competitive. They probably still do, but McRoberts has been serviceable and someone that will make a fine bench piece if that interior player does come.

Shooters - I don't know if any team in the league can get it rolling quite like the Pacers. Between Brandon Rush, Mike Dunleavy, James Posey and Danny Granger, these guys can pile up points in a hurry. They all shoot the 3 wonderfully as evidenced by the fact the Pacers are second in the league in made 3s a game (behind the Knicks, mind you). They are built on the defensive end, but because of the 3-point shot, the Pacer offense gets by.

We're still a long, long way off from April and the final Eastern standings. But considering what's behind these clubs, it's not hard to see them making the postseason. The Knicks are bullying bad teams and the Pacers are basically mediocre. But in a soft bottom-half of the East, these could be playoff teams. Which would be a major step in the right direction for both franchises. And something both fanbases have been waiting for a return to.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:25 am
 

Roy Hibbert emerging thanks to... Josh McRoberts?

Roy Hibbert went on 1070 The Fan in Indy to talk about the work he put in this summer, and dropped this nice nugget:
“I think it is because Josh McRoberts told me this is what we worked for all summer. Why we pushed each other so hard to be able to come down to these stretches in the game where we cant be tired. I’m seeing it pay off.”
via Sports Radio Interviews » Roy Hibbert Is the Best Player in the NBA That Nobody is Talking About .

So there you have it. Josh McRoberts is at least partially responsible (in tandem with Bill Walton) for turning into one of the best young big men in the league and a developing heir apparent to the title of "Next Great Big."

Hibbert's development can't be overstated as the big man is averaging 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.3 blocks (per-40's are even better : 21.3, 12.7, 4.0, 2.8). Darren Collison helps, Tyler Hansbrough helps, Brandon Rush's development and Danny Granger's return to form helps, but it's Hibbert that has been such a weapon for the Pacers, opening the entire floor up.

For his part, as much as McRoberts is often the butt of jokes, he really has become a good rotation player. He has a 21.3% defensive rebounding rate and a below-average but reasonable 13.3 PER. His role in helping Hibbert will likely not sit well with Duke haters.
Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: September 24, 2010 11:48 am
 

Preseason Primer: Pacers

Posted by Royce Young

The Pacers were part of the deal of the summer, a four-team trade that landed them Darren Collison and James Posey. They still acknowledge they're rebuilding, but now, it feels like a corner might start turning. They're still missing pieces and have questions headed to camp, but for the first time in a while, a plan looks evident.

Training camp site:
Indianapolis, IN

Training camp starts: Sept. 28

Key additions: Darren Collison (trade), Lance Stephenson (draft), Paul George (draft), James Posey (trade)

Key subtractions: Troy Murphy (trade), Earl Watson (free agent)

Likely starting lineup: Darren Collison, PG; Mike Dunleavy, SG; Danny Granger, SF; Josh McRoberts, PF; Roy Hibbert, C

Player to watch: To be determined power forward. Right now, the Pacers have Josh McRoberts starting at the 4. I think it's safe to assume Larry Bird has plans to make a move to have someone new there. Tyler Hansbrough is also in the mix but he's battling a condition that's hampering his ability to get on the floor.

Chemistry quiz: Any time you add a new point guard to the mix, questions come up about how the team will play together. Darren Collison isn't a complicated guard. He's pretty straightforward in the way he plays and the way he carries himself. He shouldn't have any issues fitting in to Jim O'Brien's system.

Camp battles: Two positions: The aforementioned power forward situation and also shooting guard. Is it Mike Dunleavy? Brandon Rush? Dahntay Jones? Rookie Lance Stephenson? Could lottery rookie Paul George slide down and play the 2? The Pacers have a number of rotation questions coming in and in both cases, might not have the player to fill them actually on the roster.

Handcuffed: The Pacers were a team that fought the law a bit this offseason. Brandon Rush was tagged with a five-game suspension for a drug violation and Lance Stephenson was accused of pushing his girlfriend down some stairs. So you can definitely assume there are some distractions and questions to be asked on media day.

Camp invites:
A couple of interest include Magnum Rolle, a second-round pick and Lance Allred, the first deaf player to play in the NBA.

Biggest strength: 3-point shooting. One of O'Brien's staples is to create the 3-point shot. Now with Collison creating space for shooters, guys like Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy, Brandon Rush and James Posey will have the ability to crank up a number of 3s.

Glaring weakness: Roster holes. Again, who plays power forward? Who plays shooting guard? The Pacers took a big step in correcting a roster issue by acquiring Collison, but the trade sent power forward Troy Murphy elsewhere. Indiana isn't done making moves and it plans on improving the lineup, at this point, those guys aren't on the team.
Posted on: August 5, 2010 7:53 am
Edited on: August 5, 2010 10:54 am
 

Shootaround 8.5.10: Candy kids

Posted by Matt Moore

The Pacers continue to search for a point guard option . There comes a point where you just have to recognize you can't go forward without a positional upgrade and you have to commit the resources necessary to acquire one. The Pacers have hit that point, but now there aren't really many options. However, if Lance Stephenson can just show a baseline of point play like he did in Summer League, he could be an option. I never would have thought that a reasonable match, but Stephenson looked like a better combo point than several attempted hybrids have.

Consider this. With Shaq signing not only with Boston, but in Boston for a two-year deal , the odds are high that his last NBA game will be as a Celtic. Try and wrap your brain around that.

Almost everyone agrees that Mark Cuban, for all his antics, is a great owner. But after Cuban lost the bid for the Texas Rangers last night, one reporter thinks his heart wasn't in it to begin with, and has some harsh words . It's hard to imagine Cuban doing the bidding of anyone, and the fact is that Cuban has been one of the best stories in sports ownership over the past decade. Committed not only to winning, but not throwing out money to ridiculous personnel like New York.

The Suns signed Matt Janning who looked good in Vegas Summer League . This brings their total number of goofy looking white point guards to three.

Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian want to have children . Tremble for your world, ye children of men.

Bulls blog Bulls by the Horns points out that Joakim Noah has improved his jumper . That's a fairly siginificant step for a player just to become decent and another sign that Noah is still even better than we think he is, and at this point we think he's pretty good.

In a lot of ways, Ben Wallace is the anti-Shaq. Doesn't say much. Does his job. Re-signs with the team that he's loyal to . You know, those kind of things.

Shannon Brown thinks playing time, more money, and a system that fits his skills are all fairly useless things . Why be a prince in an upcoming neighborhood with tons of potential when you can be a lapdog in Bevery Hills? Wanting to stay where you had success is nice, as is the loyalty factor, if that really is part of it. But Brown is poorly suited for the triangle and has more value elsewhere than he does in LA, walking the ball up as a third stringer and sitting in a corner waiting for a three. He's a slasher, a driver, a creator. But hey, his career. And the rings are always nice.

Bill Walton is working with Roy Hibbert, which can only lead to good things . My question? Where's Rik Smits?!

Sharks + Thunder= Thundersharks .

Posted on: July 27, 2010 7:56 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2010 7:57 pm
 

Video: Offseason review - Central Division

Posted by Royce Young

The Central was the center of free agency this offseason. LeBron's decision, the Bulls multiple moves and plus, some other interesting transactions. It's all been graded and broken down , plus here's some talking about it as well.


Posted on: July 27, 2010 6:12 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2010 8:30 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Posted by Matt Moore

With only a handful of free agents left on the market and with summer league over, we thought we'd take a look at how teams in the Central Division did over the summer in negotiating their moves.

Chicago Bulls

Added: Carlos Boozer (sign-and-trade), Kyle Korver (free agency), Ronnie Brewer (free agency), Kurt Thomas (free agency), C.J. Watson (trade)
Lost: Kirk Hinrich (trade), Hakim Warrick (sign-and-trade), Brad Miller (free agency)

Philosophy: "Why have excellent when you can have above-average?"

Well, hey, they didn't get LeBron. Or Dwyane Wade. Or Chris Bosh. Or Amar'e Stoudemire. But they got Carlos Boozer!

And sure, they didn't get Anthony Morrow. Or J.J. Redick (though they tried). But they got Kyle Korver!

And that's pretty much the Bulls summer. The Bulls swung out on the big boys and got the next best thing they could rustle up. Boozer's numbers are good, and he certainly solves a lot of their needs. That's really what it comes down to. All of the Bulls' signings were exactly what they needed, they just weren't the best guys they could get. Carlos Boozer gives them a low-post power forward with offensive versatility. He's just not Amar'e Stoudemire or Chris Bosh. Kyle Korver adds three-point shooting,and was a better option than even Anthony Morrow would have been. Ronnie Brewer may have been their best signing. They essentially took Kirk Hinrich, a defensive combo-guard that can't really shoot anymore (I'll never figure out where his shot went), and his considerable salary and moved him for Brewer, a defensive combo-wing that can't shoot.

It's hard to knock the Bulls, since they did at least stay aggressive, and did make moves. And trying to grade them based on expectations in this competitive of a year is tough. But with one of the biggest markets, cap space, and a handful of advantages, you still have to look at their moves and ask "Really?"

Grade: B-

Cleveland Cavaliers

Added: Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Christian Eyenga (draft)
Lost: LeBron freaking James (sign-and-trade), Delonte West (trade), Sebastian Telfair (trade), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agency)

Philosophy: "Not with a bang, but with 'The Decision'"

Yeah, I think this pretty much sums it up .

How do you judge them for this? How do you evaluate them after losing the most important player in franchise history in one of the most embarrassing ways possible? Can you blame them? Can you exonerate them simply because of James' classless behavior? At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of a front-office to make the team the best it can be. And in this case, it didn't. Whether there were forces beyond their control or foresight is irrelevant. We are judged by our performances, and the results sadly speak for themselves.

Sessions is a great pick-up, though, and Hollins has some potential outside of the triangle.

Grade: F+

Detroit Pistons


Added: Greg Monroe (draft), Terrico White (draft), Ben Wallace (re-signed)
Lost: none

Philosophy: "Running in place is good for the soul."

Such a wasted opportunity. Rip Hamilton, out there to move, with teams who missed out on the Big 3 needing impact players. Tayshaun Prince, same deal. Rodney Stuckey, conceivably expendable. Instead, Joe Dumars and company elected to simply do nothing. No additions, no trades, no moves. Just the consistency of mediocrity. Perhaps the idea is that things could not go as badly as they did last season. And it's hard to argue against that, with all the injuries. But the problems remain with an ineffective frontcourt and an inconsistent backcourt. There was still a lot Dumars could have pursued, he's pulled off those moves before. But instead he seems convinced that this roster as constructed can get the job done.

The shining light? Greg Monroe looks good. Really good. The kind of low-post player they've needed for years and have been getting by with Kwame Brown for. The wasted opportunity docks them, but their draft was solid enough to save them to a degree.

Grade: C-

Indiana Pacers


Added: Paul George (draft), Lance Stephenson (draft), Magnum Rolle (draft)

Lost:
none

Philosophy:
"The vague semblance of a plan."

The Pacers did the same amount of stuff that the Pistons did, so they get the same grade right? Sadly, no. Fair is not always equal. The Pacers get a much improved grade from years past thanks to their willingness to go away from what has been their calling card. Instead of opting for big-resume players from major programs in college and veteran marginal free agents, the Pacers went with talent. Best talent available. And now? They have a roster with movable veteran pieces (Ford, Murphy, Foster), with replacements in place for them, and have managed to get involved in multiple talks for Granger without losing leverage.

Lance Stephenson, even if Summer League was a complete mirage, has long-term value to be able to invest in at both the point guard and combo-guard position. George has long-term development potential. Roy Hibbert has been given opportunities to develop and showed signs last year, and they didn't do anything in the draft or free agency to interfere with that. Even Magnum Rolle looks like a decent backup prospect.

I don't really know how to live in a world where I'm about to give this grade, but I'm going to.

Grade: B+

Milwaukee Bucks


Added:   John Salmons (re-signed, Drew Gooden (free agency), Corey Maggette (trade), Jon Brockman (trade), Keyon Dooling (free agency), Larry Sanders (draft), Darington Hobson (draft), Tiny Gallon (draft)
Lost:   Luke Ridnour (free agency), Kurt Thomas (free agency), Royal Ivey (free agency), Charlie Bell (trade), Dan Gadzuric (trade), Darnell Jackson (trade)

Philosophy:
"LOCK AND LOAD."

I love what the Bucks did. I hate what the Bucks did. I totally understand what the Bucks did. I'm completely baffled by what the Bucks did.

Okay, here's what we know.

John Hammond believes this roster can contend. Andrew Bogut, when healthy, can be the cornerstone. Brandon Jennings will only get better. They have movable assets of value. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is versatile and talented at multiple positions. They needed scoring. A high-volume, high-usage, efficient shooter that isn't named Michael Redd Who Has No Legs. So they got Corey Maggette. Nice. That works. Sure, Maggette's a defensive question mark, but we've seen terrible defenders become semi-decent in good systems, and the Bucks have one of the best around. They re-signed Salmons, for a lot less than I thought he would garner in this market. They now have offense and defense.

But in addition to that, the Bucks got gluttonous. Drew Gooden, for the amount of money he was signed for is fairly unforgivable. Three days later, Hammond got Salmons back for a quality price. It was like every move they made, they followed with one on the other end of the sense spectrum. One thing is for certain: the Bucks are good at power forward. After watching Larry Sanders look fairly incredible at Summer League, I'm ready to commit to a bet that the Bucks will lead the league in blocks next season. With Bogut, Gooden, Mbah a Moute, Sanders, and whoever else gets in on the act, I think they have a good shot at that.

The question is if the unbalanced nature of their acquisitions (all high-usage players) will maintain a balance with their defense to ensure they reach last year's performance and exceed it. And on that front, it's a mixed grade.

Grade: B-



 
 
 
 
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