The Bucks entered the season as one of the most intriguing teams in the league, and have thus far lived up to the hype. Six games into the preseason, they are still working out lineup and playing time bugs. Despite being just 2-4, the Bucks have been close in every contest. The duality of this team is exciting at some points, and enraging at others.
Unlike a lot of other fans, I have been very impressed with Samuel Dalembert. Upon his acquisition, I expected an old, immobile, one-dimensional shot blocker, but I have seen much more. As advertised, Dalembert has been good defensively, but he has also shown promise on the offensive end of the floor. His outside shot has been a bright spot in his game (not great, but it's evident) and he's shown some hustle and youthfulness around the basket.
Another positive has been the outside shot of Brandon Jennings. Jennings is shooting 41% from long range, despite an 0-6 night in Toronto. Monta Ellis has also been sharp from deep, shooting an impressive 47%. This, however, will also be a negative to be discussed later in this post.
The Bucks have been terribly inefficient as a team and can not seem to win tight games. One major disappointment of mine that has, in turn, led to their inefficiency has been the infatuation with the outside shot. Sure, the Bucks have been shooting alright from the three point line, but I expected the Jennings-Ellis tandem to increase each others eFG% by getting out in transition or slashing to get easier buckets. Both players have the ability to get in the paint, and get to the line, consistently, yet the settle for lower percentage jumpers. So far, the offense has looked disjunctive.
Alright, Coach, what do you have for us? Scott Skiles is notorious for his defensive minded play, but that is far from what we've seen from this team. We knew the small guard combo would have problems defending, so the Bucks went out and improved the front court with the additions of Dalembert and Henson (oh, and Pryzbilla....almost forgot). Still, the defense has been sub-par. The Bucks have given up 100.8 ppg in their four losses. This would make them 27th in the league last year.
Perhaps the most glaring hole in the defense is the poor defensive play of the guards. Opposing guards are averaging over 48 points a game in Bucks losses. It has been difficult for the Jennings-Ellis duo to stay in front of anybody, despite the opponents size. Even Nate Robinson put up 24 points. Coach Skiles and the Bucks need to find a way to combat this struggle.
Despite all this, the Bucks could still be in for a good season. They have played very well at times, and are as deep as any team in the league. They have yet to play a game with a full roster, which may have hindered them at the end of tight games. Also worth mentioning, the L.A. Lakers are 0-6 in this preseason. It's only preseason, the real stuff starts November 2!
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