John Salmons looked like he needed another week (or two) of pre-season. Same for Corey Maggette, who seemed confused on defense (“Defense? What’s that coach?) The spacing and ball movement on offense was reminiscent of some of the worst days of the Michael Redd-Terry Stotts period.
The Bucks, still a work in progress, ugly and obvious, after dropping Wednesday’s opener 95-91 in New Orleans, would do well to pick up a win in Minnesota tonight and reset the season at home against the Bobcats Saturday.
GM John Hammond’s newcomers — Drew Gooden, Maggette and Keyon Dooling — have some work to do, and they would be wise to get to it ASAP. Coach Scott Skiles‘ patience won’t last much longer. Defensive ace Luc Mbah a Moute and bruising forward Jon Brockman are set to return in Minnesota, and Ersan Ilyasova will not be relegated to 15 minutes of playing time often — and probably not for some time.
Maggette does warrant a pass due to his lack of a preseason, and Gooden was productive in his minutes (15 pts, 11 rebs). But Gooden — who did have a full preseason — failed time and time again to get a hand in David Wells‘ face. That’s the kind of defense that gets on Skile’s nerves and won’t be tolerated on a Skiles team. Just ask Michael Redd.
The Bucks core — plus Salmons — was a winner. It’s too early to say that GM Hammond did too much this off-season, too early to be aggravated that Hammond and the Bucks are marketing Maggette and Gooden to Bucks fans as part of a winning formula. Yes, it’s early … but no — the Bucks team that played in New Orleans Wednesday was no winner.
Carlos Delfino (19 pts) – never looked better. Good spacing, solid D, ball movement, great teamwork with Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings. The Bucks core knows what it’s doing, nevermind the newcomers.
Andrew Bogut: The free throw line is only 15 feet away and 50 percent from the floor isn’t quite good enough, big man. The Bucks will need Bogut to be more efficient offensively. But in every other regard, it was great to see the Bucks center back on the court. He was in control of the paint all night (15 boards), and Emeka Okafor (0 points) didn’t get free for a single shot the entire game.
Brandon Jennings: Watching Jennings play D — often successfully — against Chris Paul was more fun than watching him run the Bucks tired-looking offense. It’s too bad the Hornets are in the West and BJ gets only one more crack at CP3 (next Saturday). That the Bucks were even in the game was a credit to Jennings, who found Delfino’s hot hand time and time again in the 4th quarter. If BJ’s sophomore season is a campaign to prove to the world that he’s the real deal, he’s off to a pretty good start.