Bucks Weekend: Is Andrew Bogut the best center named Andrew drafted in 2005? Skiles dunks on Shaq!!!

What’s this? A two-game home win streak for the Bucks before flying out to Los Angeles and the Battle of the Andrews? The fans needed that. But first, a moment of NBA Weekend Zen from J.E. Skeets over at Yahoo NBA’s Ball Don’t Lie blog.

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After a well-knit, all-around team victory over the Chicago Bulls Wednesday, the Bucks face Charlotte tonight at the BC to close out their lightest week of the season and then it gets tough again. The Bucks head to Los Angeles for a Sunday night game against the Lakers, the first of three on a Sunday-Wednesday west coast swing.

The pairing of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol has delivered one of the top 3 teams in the NBA (Celtics and Cavs the other two) but another force awaits the Bucks and Andrew Bogut in LA:  The other Andrew. The other A.B. The other center in the 2005 draft.

Bogut was the #1 overall pick in the 2005, while Lakers center Andrew Bynum went #10 straight out of high school. After a slow development his first two season, Bynum brought it on last season, averaging 13 pts, 10 rebs and 2 blocks through 35 games before a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. After knee surgery, Bynum’s back in the flow for the Lakers putting up the same, steady numbers. His rebounds are down a bit but Bynum’s now playing alongside Gasol, who was acquired last season after Bynum was hurt.

Bynum’s numbers are generally comparable to Bogut’s but judging these centers is not about the numbers. Watching the two Andrews battle was one of last season’s highlights as the Bucks stole an early season game from the Lakers. Both young centers played well in the matchup but it was clear that the only things Bogut did better than Bynum were pass the ball and take charges. Everything else, especially the shot-blocking and the ability to stay out of foul trouble, has gone Bynum’s way … with the exception last season of the all-important “health” quotient. Even that goes Bynum’s way this season as Bogut appears slowed by ankle problems and missed three games with a knee bruise  …  

Check out this story from earlier this week, after the Lakers beat Toronto last Sunday. Bynum had 18 and 10 and harassed All-Pro big forward Chris Bosh to his worst game of the season. How will Bogut fare?  We’ll see on Sunday. This is good test for both Andrews, and it should help answer our question: Who is the best center named Andrew drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft?

This vs. poor Joey Graham of the Raptors is just ugly!





The all-important health quotient: When are these Bucks going to get healthy? The win against Chicago was a strong statement that Scott Skiles has the Bucks moving in the right direction (the interior defense was SOLID) but it didn’t stop the incessant injury report questions that have nagged the Bucks all season long like a bad trick knee. Charlie Bell needs a break to rest his bum ankle. Andrew Bogut returned from his bruised knee only to get whacked in the head and retreat to the locker room with a migraine. Bogut is questionable still with the tip-off against Charlotte twenty minutes away.

Some media is so dulled by the injury stories that they just didn’t bother with the update Friday: WTMJ-TV News 4 didn’t even report Bogut’s migraine – Lance Allen! Where’s my injury report?  Skiles did all he could to keep Larry Brown and the Bobcats guessing about Bogut’s status up until a half hour before the game. But who was he kidding? No Migraine was going to keep Bogut from outmuscling Emeka Okafor in the paint for the 6th straight time. A little basketball’s probably good for a migraine anyway.

The Bobcats game Friday was not on the toob. I suppose this means that the Bucks want us to go the game. Incentive? They looked like a team moving in the right direction in beating the Bulls Wednesday, and $29 upper level seats are $10. Disincentive?  I’m off to watch the Celtics and Portland Trailblazers on ESPN, my first chance this season to see Blazers rookie center Greg Oden.

Sam MitchellSam Mitchell makes a classy exit: The Toronto Raptors fired coach Sam Mitchell Wednesday and you could see it coming. After trading T.J. Ford for Indiana Pacers’ injury-riddled center Jermaine O’Neal, the Raptors looked no better than they did last year when they finished 41-41 and were bounced out of the playoffs in the 1st round by the Orlando Magic. In fact they looked worse in their early season matchup against the Bucks, a game the Bucks would have won if not for some terrrrible decision making by a certain shooting guard in the final minute.

 

Now the Raptors are just like the Pacers of the last couple of seasons: waiting for O’Neal to be healthy. The former All-Star center hasn’t played in nearly two weeks. After losing to Kobe, the other Andrew and the Lakers Sunday, the Raptors were blown out by 39 points in Denver Tuesday and that was the end for Mitchell. The Raptors are 8-9 and still on the western road, playing tonight in Utah.

 

I never thought T.J. for O’Neal was a good trade because of questions about O’Neal health. Not that T.J. Ford is the picture of health either, but I think you can do better for a dynamic point guard than an aging, injury-prone center.

 

Marbury to be a Celtic? Apparently it’s possible according to a report on ESPN Radio, though I question whether ESPN could have got the scoop with the media that surrounds the Knicks on the case. But here I am in the blogosphere mongering another ESPN rumor. Marbury, who was first benched by Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni then refused to play when the team was shorthanded, is currently banished from the team and trying to negotiate a buyout of his contract. If Marbury gets a buyout (similar to what Sam Cassell did last season), he would then be waived and could sign on with another team after clearing waivers. ESPN has reported that the Celtics, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat are interested. The New York Daily News reached Marbury by email Friday but Marbury refused to comment.

 

Packer broadcast break: “When that ball goes to the ground … wow … Satan rules at the bottom of an NFL pile. You don’t want to be there.”  — CBS color commentator Gus Johnson. The Packers had just recovered a fumbled punt by the Texans in the 4th quarter.

 

Deep Sixed in Philly?  With Elton Brand missing his second straight game as the Sixers played the Nets Saturday night, center Sam Dalembert pulled another disappearing act. Dalembert didn’t score, grabbed a few rebounds and had his shot blocked three times. Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks benched him in the loss, after playing him only 18 mins vs. Detroit the previous night. Dalembert grabbed a single, lone rebound against the Pistons. Dalembert’s had a few of these games in the last two-three weeks as the Sixers have struggled, falling to 9-12.  Sixer fans are beginning to wonder whether Sam’s injured, in the doghouse, or just out of it.

Why should Bucks fans care? Well, if Philly continues to struggle and Dalembert disappears, this is good news for the Bucks and Andrew Bogut, who’ll meet the Sixers three times this season. Dalembert has caused nothing but problems for Bogut in the past. If the Bucks are to have any hope of reaching the playoffs, Philly’s the kind of mid-level team to beat. With Detroit, Philly and Toronto struggling after big acquisitions (Brand for Philly, Allen Iverson for Detroit and Jermaine O’Neil for the Raptors) the playoff picture in the East is looking murky. This could be good for the Bucks.

 

Devin Harris playing like an All-Star: Tom Enlund leads off his NBA beat column with a look at ‘Tosa East’s own Devin Harris, who’s emerging as the best point guard in the Eastern Conference (now that Chauncey Billups is in Denver) and is 5th in the league in scoring, first in free throws made.  Richard Jefferson had this to say about his former Nets teammate, who came to New Jersey in the Jason Kidd trade last February:


“Devin is one of the best young players in this league. I’m extremely proud of him. He’s a friend of mine. I knew right away when he came over from Dallas that they had received a very, very good piece.For him, he works so hard and learned so much from so many people – (former Dallas coach) Avery Johnson and all the players there – and now he’s in a situation he’s able to show all the things he’s learned. Everybody knew he was a great player. He was on a team that went to the Finals, on a team that won almost 70 games, and now he’s in a situation where it’s his team and he’s really starting to flourish.”

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