There was a lot to be excited about last night in the Bucks season opener. The block from Giannis. Larry Sanders patrolling the lane. Jabari Parker going coast-to-coast. Somehow, though, none of those things really grabbed my attention.
The thing that grabbed my attention was Jared Dudley barking out defensive assignments audible on my television in the third quarter.
On the next possession, he dove on the floor to start a fast break, which he finished with an assist for a Brandon Knight three. Then, another loose ball corralled by Dudley led to another Brandon Knight three assisted by…that’s right, Jared Dudley. In two minutes, the Bucks went on a 10-0 run and took a 24-point lead.
This isn’t my way of saying Jared Dudley should start every game for the rest of the season. Or even my way of saying he should get more playing time. Instead, this is my way of saying that the sequence described above is exactly why the Bucks traded for Jared Dudley, and why he should continue to get around 25 minutes on the floor each night.
I had my doubts about Dudley going into this season. Heck, I had my doubts about Jared Dudley as recently as yesterday afternoon, but then I was struck by something Chad Ford mentioned in his chat regarding the 76ers current tanking strategy.
“A lot of old school GMs, including a few that have gone through this, have made this point. You have to be building culture and veterans teaching young guys how to win is part of that. If you look at the Kings, who essentially took a similar, albeit less drastic approach, you can see how adding young talent into a losing situation year after year can breed a culture of selfishness and complacency. I’m not sure anyone in Sacramento knows exactly how to turn that around.”
I couldn’t help but think about the current situation in Milwaukee when reading Ford’s comments. For years, Bucks fans have dreamed of a team willing to fall to the bottom of the standings and rise to the top of the NBA Draft board. Last season made that dream a reality, but it’s important to realize there is a lot more to developing a quality basketball team than simply acquiring young talent.
There are plenty of people that scoffed at the minutes allotted for veterans like Dudley, Zaza Pachulia and O.J. Mayo last night and throughout the preseason, but a youth movement can only go so far. You can only play so many minutes with a lineup with five guys under age 25 on the floor before those minutes become meaningless. Without veterans to show young players how the NBA game is played, those helpful reps on the floor eventually turn into bad habits and a team stagnates.
As fans look for the Bucks to own the future, it is important to remember the need for accountability right now.
What to Read
Larry Sanders looks to put nightmare season behind him: The Brew Hoop crew took a look at what this season may look like for Larry Sanders from a ton of different angles. Overall, the outlook was positive, but there are still some lingering concerns.
It’s Jason Kidd’s kingdom, we’re just watching him experiment in it: At Hardwood Paroxysm, Andy Liu takes a closer look Jason Kidd’s fit with the Milwaukee Bucks and the roster’s vast possibilities. Ultimately, he decides that the best thing to do with the lineup is get weird and try something unusual.
Shameless plug alert: Milwaukee Magazine’s Howie Magner and Dan Shafer traded emails for an extended Bucks preview edition of Sports Nut. And be sure to read “Downtown Horizons,” the November cover story, which takes a look at the path forward for a new Bucks arena.
Clip of the Week
“Wiggins is the freak athlete that could one day be a superstar if he realizes his potential. Parker is the more polished product that can produce in the league from day one.”
During the draft process, this synopsis became a popular evaluation of the draft’s top two prospects. Alhough this synopsis is correct, it only tells part of the truth. Parker is certainly more polished than Andrew Wiggins at this point in his career, but as the baseline spin-and-dunk (at :24) and the catch-and-dunk (at 1:15) show, Parker is also quite athletic. I think this has been lost on most people and should remain just one of many reasons that Parker’s future is very bright.
Week in Review
Wednesday: After leading by 24 points midway through the third quarter, the Bucks were unable to seal a victory against the Charlotte Hornets, falling in overtime 108-106. Brandon Knight led the way with a near triple double as he put up 22 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds, but ultimately it just wasn’t enough in the Bucks season opener.
Next Week’s Preview
Friday: The Bucks will get their home schedule underway as they welcome the league’s second-worst team from last season, the Philadelphia 76ers. Not much has changed in Philadelphia as they’re once again projected to be one of the league’s worst teams. Waukesha native Frank Caliendo performs at halftime.
Saturday: In their first back-to-back of the season, the Bucks will fly to the east coast to take on the Washington Wizards. After a second-round loss to the Pacers last season, the Wizards have added veteran Paul Pierce for a little extra punch, but will be without budding star Bradley Beal for the next four to six weeks.
Tuesday: After a two-day break, the Bucks will return to the Midwest to take on the reigning Central Division Champion Indiana Pacers. The Pacers may find themselves closer to the bottom of the division this season after losing Paul George to a horrific injury during FIBA play and Lance Stephenson to free agency.
Wednesday: The first game of the I-94 series will take place in Milwaukee as the Bucks welcome the Chicago Bulls to town. The return of Derrick Rose and addition of Pau Gasol make the Bulls one of the league’s most dangerous teams.
Stats of the Week
- While Brandon Knight’s usage rate rose from 22.8 percent in Detroit to 26.8 percent in Milwaukee last season, his turnover percentage decreased by more than 4 percent to 13.2 percent, and his assist percentage rose by 5 to 26.6 percent (via Basketball Reference). (Translation: Brandon Knight had the ball more than he did in Detroit and turned it over less while tallying more assists.)
- In his first year in the NBA, Nate Wolters recorded a 3.28 assist-to-turnover ratio, which was the league’s eighth-best rate.
- Bucks free-agent acquisition Kendall Marshall was just three spots lower at 11 with a 3.18 assist-to-turnover ratio (via NBA Stats).