Andrew Bogut named East player of the week… The Charlie Bell Factor, too

Andrew Bogut and the Bucks were the buzz of the league last week, and that was before they beat the Utah Jazz  with gut check defensive stands and clutch shooting. The Bucks center even won over the round mound of TNT, Charles Barkley. 

Monday the NBA named Bogut Eastern Conference Player of the Week, March 8-14, over Lebron James, rival center Dwight Howard and Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson.

Bogues led the league in blocked shots for the week (3.7 per game), was second in rebounds (13.7) and scored 19.3 ppg. AB began the week with a monster game in the Bucks win over the Celtics (26 pts, 17 boards and 4 blocks) and continued his strong play in wins over the Jazz and Pacers.

Heck, he didn’t play that well offensively in the latter two wins, though he anchored the tough defensive stands that turned back the Jazz, on a 23-5 tear before losing to the Bucks and Thunder last weekend.  Suffice it to say Bogues has had better weeks during the 2009-10 campaign; it’s been his coming out party as a force in the league to be reckoned with, an All-Pro center.

Nice that the NBA is noticing, in light of the All-Star snub AB  received from the East coaches and Commish David Stern just a few weeks ago. A belated thanks NBA, and we’ll take that 5th seed in the playoffs, too. As for Bogut?

“Thanks [for the fan support] for the player of the week award I was fortunate enough to receive,” he tweeted. “Still a lot of work 2-do.” 

The daily newspaper in Milwaukee has even noticed Bogut’s breakout season. Journal Sentinel sports editor Garry D. Howard left that “Jerry Stackhouse was the spark” thing behind and wrote a laudatory piece on Bogut and Skiles.

   Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks' Charlie Bell, left, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, in Milwaukee.   The CHARLIE BELL FACTOR: It’s real, trust it, know it, never mind the Hollinger ratings (rarely kind to defensive commandos). Bell has been on the bench as Skiles instead plays Stackhouse, leading to talk that Stack sparked the Bucks’ turnaround. Nevermind that Charlie was the shooting guard Skiles relied on most when the Bucks turned things around after their long and losing trip West.

Charlie’s still an X factor determining the Bucks success, as he played heavy minutes in the 12 games between the last game on the 1-5 western trip (at Houston) and the disjointed loss to Houston on the eve of trading deadline (the last game the Bucks played without John Salmons). In the 12 games in between the Houston losses, the Bucks were 8-4, with Charlie averaging 31 minutes per game. 

Yet there are many in the Bucks fan base convinced that Charlie doesn’t make a positive impact on their team’s performance. Let’s go to Charlie Bell’s game logs (what would I do without you basketball-reference?) for a closer look.  

CB’s avg. line in those 12 games:  31 mins, 40% shooting but 42% (20-47) on threes, 13-18 from the line, 2.5 rebs, 1.8 assists, 10.2 ppg. 

That three point shooting % is not a typo — Charlie was shooting 42% from the land of Ray and Reggie during the turnaround stretch that preceded Salmons’ arrival. This includes lousy bad night — a 1-6 outing and a loss in Toronto.  Minus that game, and Charlie was draining nearly half his shots from Downtown (46.3%) for three weeks. It was a shot in the arm the Bucks needed.

Here’s more: 7 steals, and only 8 turnovers in 371 minutes. That’s baallll control, an extremely stabilizing court presence for Brandon Jennings, who has to be allowed to make mistakes (and does) running the point in his rookie season. Michael Redd was finished for the season, the Bucks were working Stackhouse into the lineup — somebody had to help Bogut and Jennings restore order.

And for all the defensive muggings that Charlie lays on opponents, Charlie gets off scot free — only 23 fouls total, or 2 per game.

Some highlights: Bell had 18 in a win against Philly Jan. 27, part of a 5-game stretch in which Charlie averaged 13 ppg.

Bottled up Dwyane Wade, not once but twice in three days. On Jan. 30 Bell hounded Wade into a  7-19 shooting (23 pts) night,  “one of his most frustrating games of the season,” according to the Miami Herald. Jennings called Bell “a D-Wade stopper.” In public.

In the rematch two nights later Feb.1 the Bucks held Wade to 20 pts on 6-20 shooting, as Bell and Luc Mbah a Moute alternated on Wade. “The Bucks might have ‘a D-Wade stopper’ in Charlie Bell,’ as rookie Brandon Jennings said. Or they might not,” went the Herald game report. “But what is certain is that the Bucks have become Heat stoppers.”

First game off the road: At the BC against the Raptors, the Bucks played their starters heavily — Jennings, Bell, Bogut, Delfino and Mbah a Moute — and fed Bogut in a 113-107 win. The starters accounted for 86 of the final tally, Bogut leading the way with 27.   Bell shot 6-9 for 13 pts, dished out 3 assists and didn’t turn the ball over in 36 minutes. It was a statement game to the home fans that things were coming together for the Bucks, that they could win and this was how they were going to do it.

In those first dozen games coming off the western trip, Stackhouse was new, working to fit in. The hope that Redd would be able to fit in was recently lost, Salmons wasn’t here yet. Jennings was mired in a shooting slump. Somebody had to step up and help execute the game plans, maintain Skiles’ constant pressure D on the perimeter. Bogut stepped into his All-Pro stride, all-Rambis defensive whiz Luc Mbah a Moute moved into the starting lineup, Carlos Delfino began shooting better…

… and there was Charlie Bell, the X-factor, hitting 42% from 3-point land, the former point guard taking care of the ball, making plays and supplying in-your-face defense.  The Charlie Bell Factor — the Bucks can depend on it.

Quote of the Day:  “This team is bad.  This team needs a few pieces, and to build a new identity.  Right now there’s nothing.  They’re one of the worst offensive teams, one of the worst teams defensively, they’re a shell of their former selves.”  —  Need4Sheed blog guest writer Boney on the Pistons.

And to think the Bucks split with that shell of the Pistons.

7 thoughts on “Andrew Bogut named East player of the week… The Charlie Bell Factor, too

  1. Kevin

    It’s good to have a center that isn’t past his peak or doesn’t want to be traded to LA. When he came into the league, I compared him to Mehmet Okur. The other night, they went toe to toe and it was fairly even.

  2. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Here’s Stack’s game logs, for reference.

    Stack was contributing something in all the games since he got here. It’s really a mixed bag if you look at it. Detroit was a weird game. The Bucks couldn’t score in the 1st quarter — none of them but Delfino. You might say that’s because Charlie started but he was one of the few Bucks shooting well that night.

    Houston was the trade deadline game, and it was a mess. They admitted after the game that it probably bothered them. It the Houston game was the 13th after coming off the road. Even with that loss and the Detroit loss, they were 8-5.

    The other three losses are @ Toronto, @Dallas, @ Orlando. The Dallas game is really interesting — Bucks lost by 1 but they were only in it at all I think because Bogut was tremendous — 13-14 from the floor for 32 pts!!!

  3. Kevin

    I don’t have all the stats in front of me, but Stack contributed more than just one of the first seven games. And the Bucks lost at home to Detroit and got embarrassed by Houston with Bell. So we can keep making examples; you’re stuck on this guy and I’m not.
    Meyers was also hurt during that ugly 76-77 32-50 season. Then with him in 77-78, they were 44-38 and battled Denver 7 games. He definitely was the key, even if he underachieved a bit.

  4. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Those late 1970’s-early 1980’s Bucks were great weren’t they? And I do mean “great” with all that greatness is in basketball, but for one thing: a title.

    The nature of bizarre lawnmowing accidents being what they are, I can see why he turned to Jehovah. As I’m sure you remember, as I do, that Meyers missed the entire 1978-79 season with a back injury and struggled with it a little bit when he came back in 1979-80. His minutes were done, his scoring down, his rebounding, everything … though he was still effective.

    During the summer after the Bucks’ near miss against the Sonics in the playoffs, he was at home, contemplating his future, finding religion, thinking about whether he wanted to play anymore, when … Ouch — “yardwork’s not supposed to hurt that much!” Meyers decided right then and there that he couldn’t see going through it all again, the grind of another NBA season, the constant rehab on his back, which was going to be a recurring problem for the rest of his playing days, his teammates’ lifestyles. So he decided to retire, leaving me with an important decision: What sounded better, “bizarre lawnmowing accident” or “Jehovah’s Witness conversion”? I hope I made the right choice.

    Nellie was pissed, though. Part of that had to do with George Johnson, the big forward he had drafted out of St. John’s in 1978. George had a a somewhat disappointing rookie year and when Meyers decided to come back, Nellie rented him to the Denver Nuggets instead of letting him sit on the Bucks bench behind Meyers for a year. George had a solid 79-80 season in Denver and was muscling out a rep for himself as a bonafide NBA rebounder. But after being rented out for a season, he wasn’t too thrilled about coming back to Milwaukee. In fact, he told Nellie he didn’t want to come to training camp.

    Having treating George this way to make room for a Meyers comeback, only to see Meyers walk away from the game, Nellie had to wonder whether he wasn’t jinxed. We could have kept George here and who knows what would have happened in the 1980 playoffs and beyond? And the Bucks would have had a power forward. Instead, Nellie was on the phones trying to make a trade, which ended up being with Indiana for Mickey Johnson.

    Mickey was a skilled veteran putting up some big numbers in Indiana (19 pts, 8.3 boards) but he was 6’10, 190. As it turned out againt Philly, we didn’t need another guy who could score. We needed a rugged forward who could keep the Jones’ off the glass. That might have been George. That might’ve been Meyers. But it sure wasn’t Mickey.

  5. joe

    I read the beginning about you being a bucks fan mid 70’s .[ME TOO!!] Your fact about David Meyers leaving is wrong.He left because he was a Jehovah Witness and he wanted to spend his time with his family and church so when his contract ran out he just didn’t sign another one and Nellie was pissed. Take Care Joe Smitz GO BUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Stack didn’t contribute much in his first seven games as a Buck, unless you count the 14-point night he had in the T-Wolves blowout, which gave Skiles the first opportunity to play him extended minutes. The turnaround started on the road when the Bucks were able to put Redd behind them and reset the starting rotation with Bell at shooting guard. It allowed them to get back to what had worked well early in the season when Redd went to the sidelines.

    The Bucks were 7-4 at one point with Bell as the starter, and that included an OT loss in New Orleans in which Redd was embarassingly horrible off the bench and the Bucks let the CP3-less Hornets back into the game in the final minutes. It was ugly to watch. Skiles started Redd the next game in OK City and the Thunder blew them out.

    The Redd experiment was shelved for four games and Charlie was back in the starting lineup. They beat Chicago, then came Bogut’s Big Ben-Haywood games, though we had no business losing to the Wiz on an Earl Boykins game-winner.

    After 18 games the Bucks were 9-9 (8-7 with Charlie as the starter) and frustration was palpable. They could have so easily been 12-6, should have been 12-6, even with Bogut missing a third of the games and Mbah a Moute more than that. Bogut wasn’t Bogut yet … And the Redd experiment was hanging over the entire team.

    Point being, Stackhouse joined a team, and rotations, that had already shown what they could do with Charlie playing the starting guard minutes. Overall the Bucks are 19-16 with Charlie as the starter. Take out the drama and the uncoachability that is Michael Redd, and we already had a near 50-game winner in the East without Salmons or Stack. It’s Bogut. It’s Jennings. It’s The Prince. It’s Charlie. It’s Ersan. It’s the damage Ridnour was doing off the bench. It’s Delfino getting his shot straightened out. It’s Skiles.

    The decision to not play Charlie now is sound because it makes no sense to rebreak the bench rotations that Stack is part of. Those were set. Bell went to the bench to make room for Salmons, who really has, as you said, helped elevate the Bucks into the conversation in the East.

  7. Kevin

    I just can’t compare a few contributions Charlie made to the Bucks’ recent surge. Things turned around when Stack joined the team and elevated when Salmons arrived. That and the resurgence of Brandon Jennings and Carlos Delfino. Royal Ivey can’t crack the rotation, either.

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