Tag Archives: Ball Don’t Lie

Bogut ranked #2 in Ball Don’t Lie center ratings

Defense matters in the NBA.  When it comes to the best big men in the world, there is Dwight Howard and then there is Bucks center Andrew BogutBall Don’t Lie’s Kelly Dwyer — one of most dogged NBA junkies in the blogosphere — concurs.

Bucks fans have seen Bogut improve every year in the face of a couple of broken noses, a smashed kneecap, a bashed upper thigh and a troublesome lower back.  The rest of the NBA finally took notice last February as Bogues — healthy at last — anchored coach Scott Skiles’ tenacious, turnover machine defense and at age 25 seized the mantle of leadership, lifting his Bucks out of the abyss of the Michael Redd era and reenergizing a fan base that had been dormant since the trade of Ray Allen in 2003.

No, Bogut didn’t make the 2010 All-Star team but everybody from Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to the TNT’s Round Mound of opinion, Charles Barkley, went on record saying he should have — and would have had the Eastern Conference coaches been able to recast their ballots a couple of weeks after the voting deadline.  At season’s end, Bogut was voted 3rd team All-Pro by the league’s media, just missing the 2nd team with the 11th highest overall vote total.

Dwyer, at heart a Bulls fan and a bonafide Scott Skiles expert, tends to pay more attention to the Bucks than most NBA geeks, and his meta-awareness of the game’s sometimes unmeasurable intangibles is unrivaled.  Here’s his take on Bogut:

That’s right. The man who I think is the second-best center in the NBA didn’t even make the All-Star team last season.

This isn’t me trying to be obscure — Bogut was a No. 1 overall pick fercryin’outloud. It’s just the end result of seeing this guy work expertly on either end of the court last season. Bogut was an at-times dominant defender on par with Dwight Howard, especially when Howard started 2009-10 slow. And Bogut’s versatile offensive game still isn’t being taken advantage enough by his Bucks teammates.

All he does is do everything well, save for the odd trip to the free-throw line. And because he turns 26 just a month into the season and so many other bigs are either playing out of position, coming back from injury or starting to put it all together, I think Bogut establishes himself as a clear No. 2 in 2010-11. To those that pay attention to defense, at least.

As for Dwyer’s Top 11, I’ve gotta take issue with Hawks big man Al Horford‘s #4 ranking, and I think it’s fair to say that the Lakers Pau Gasol plays as much center as teammate Andrew Bynum (#5), given Bynum’s ever-nagging knee problems.  Spurs Hall-of-Famer-to-be Tim Duncan plays center most of the time, too, it should be noted, and deserves to be in the Top 5, nevermind the Spurs’ insistence on listing Duncan as a forward, which they’ve continued to do since David Robinson retired in 2003.  Duncan’s the Spurs center.

Ranking Brook Lopez  # 3 seems to beg a “what has Lopez accomplished?” question, and wouldn’t a lot of teams take Joakim Noah’s defense and rebounding over Lopez’s sometimes uninspired D?  No way is Lopez the #3 center in the league but I realize that Dwyer was giving a nod to Lopez’s offensive game and that youth weighed in KD was balancing his criteria.

I could quibble all day into next season about rankings 3-11 (that’s what we obnoxious and insufferable NBA blogo-junkies do).  But the spot that Dwyer nailed was the one that mattered most and is most contentious among NBA faithful who care about center play — #2 behind Howard.  Bogut earned it last season and will have to fight to defend it through the coming season as guys like Lopez, Bynum, Noah, Greg Oden and Marc Gasol continue to improve and they all try to stay as healthy as the freakishly fit Dwight from another planet.  I can’t wait.

And damn you Dwyer for getting your center rankings done before I even started mine.

Paint help: Bucks draft shotblocker Larry Sanders

Sanders, Larry

I’ve joined NBA draft night just in time to hear Jay Bilas describe Gordon Hayward as “an elite shooter” and realized it was going to be a long night of sneering banality from the wardens of college ball unless I acted quickly.  Off went the toob and over to Ball Don’t Lie I went for the annual draft live blog, hosted by Trey Kirby and featuring special guest Sham from ShamSports.com, where I had just gone to find out how long the Bucks will be stuck with Cory Maggette (three more years at $31 million total).

Meanwhile in the draft …

That “elite” shooter Hayward went to the Jazz with the #9 pick, by the way.  And the Pacers drafted Paul George with the #11 pick, taking two perimeter forwards who the Bucks worked out off the board. The Bucks will draft in a few minutes.

Here’s that Ball Don’t Lie link again if you prefer your NBA analysis from guys who like pro basketball and actually think a good night of fun is sitting around at the NBA draft making up stupid nicknames for the players.  Turn ESPN off when you find it.

Kentucky’s Patrick “Swayze RIP” Patterson fell all the way to 14th, just out of the Bucks grasp.

With the 15th pick the Bucks selected …

Larry – “Remember Gary Shandling for the his Amazing HBO show, not the movie where he played The Alien” –  Sanders, the 6’9″, 210-pound forward-center from Virginia Commonwealth.  Who is Larry Sanders?  Raw, wingspan, thin, not much of scorer but is scoring what a good team should want from a rookie, especially one drafted 15th?  No. Learning to play Skiles-style defense will dominate Sanders’ NBA life for some time with the Bucks.

Check that – the Bucks list Sanders at 6’11” and 235, so size was probably the deciding factor here.  Here’s the Bucks description of From Bucks.com Draft Central:

Larry Sanders Larry Sanders – VCU – Junior
11/21/88 – 6’11” – 235 lbs – Forward | Draft Profile

  • Career Highlights: Team was 75-27 during his three seasons with two regular season CAA titles and one postseason CAA title. Two-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Strengths: Extremely long and athletic forward who can rebound and block shots at a high clip. Runs the floor extremely well for his size. Has a frame that should fill out nicely. Offensive game is a work in progress.

From the BDL peanut gallery:

Andy – Desipio.com:  Bilas just compared Sanders to Theo Ratliff. Huh? You mean he already has a huge expiring contract?

Sham can’t believe Sanders went ahead of Solomon Alabi, center from Nigeria who played at Florida State.

I also thought the Bucks would take a good look at Alabi, figuring if they decided to go big, might as well go as big as possible and draft the center from Nigeria (also building on the international  character of the team, missing one player now that the stumbling Dutchman, Dan Gadzuric,  is a Golden State Warrior).  But I’m not sure the Bucks ever got a good look at Alabi.

Sanders they did get a good look at, though it wasn’t so clear at first how much they liked what they saw.  After a June 14 workout, Bucks director of scouting, Billy McKinney said it was “a bit of a stretch” to say that Sanders was “in the mix” at #15:

“I think that might be a little bit of a stretch, but anything is possible. This draft is a little bit crazy right now because we’re not sure how the top 15 is shaking out. Every week we go through mock drafts and we look at the mock drafts and different people are all over the board. We think that might be a little bit of a stretch (to have Sanders at 15) but we have him in anyway to look at him in the event that something might happen in the event that we might move back.”

Sanders’ shot-blocking abilities may have tipped the Bucks decision his way: “We’re a defensive oriented team and of course, one of the things that we’re looking at of course in the draft is trying to get more length and athleticism,” McKinney said.

This could also mean that the Bucks are in the market for more experienced help in the paint for Bogut and may want to trade up for, say, Patrick Patterson, or trade out of the draft for NBA experience. As of the Gadzuric/Bell for Magette trade, the Bucks don’t have a backup center under contract.

The guy I thought the Bucks would end up with, Luke Babbitt (6’9″ scorer/shooter out of Nevada) went in the very next pick, to the T-Wolves at #16. But the T-Wolves are trading Babbitt to Portland for Martell Webster.  Babbitt, obviously, was not enough of a paint defender/rebounder/shotblocker to fit the Bucks needs, however much they liked his offensive game.

5 picks (three straight PFs taken by the Rockets, Bucks and T-Wolves.)

12. Memphis Grizzlies – Xavier “Ohio” Henry
13. Toronto Raptors – Ed “Dangerous Danny” Davis
14. Houston Rockets – Patrick “Swayze (R.I.P.)” Patterson
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Larry “Remember Garry Shandling For His Amazing HBO Show, Not The Movie Where He Played The Alien” Sanders
16. Minnesota T’Wolves – Luke “Rain Man (Shouts to The Jones)” Babbitt – traded to Portland for Martell Webster]
Now the Bucks are describing Sanders as 6’9″.  From the the email I just received from the team:
The Larry Sanders Show Coming to Milwaukee
The Bucks select 6’9” forward Larry Sanders from VCU. Sanders averaged 14.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for Virginia Commonwealth last season. Stay tuned to Bucks.com for info and additional draft coverage.
How tall is this guy Sanders really? And when are the Bucks ever going to get their PR #@% together. Pick a height people, especially when drafting for wingspan.
…. It’s 9:45 pm as I type this and the Bucks are about to pick with #37 in the 2nd round.  Sham continues to call for center Solomon Alabi. Like sham, I’m beginning to wonder why 35 teams would take a pass on Alabi and am beginning to like the idea that the Bucks will take the Florida State big man. Bogut can’t have too much help coming off another injury. The Pistons take a point guard named Terrico (or letters arranged to that effect) at #36 and the Ball Don’t Lie guys wonder if he was stoned in some photo they’re looking at.   Bucks at #37 take …
Darington Hobson Darington Hobson – New Mexico – Junior
9/29/87 – 6’7” – 205 lbs – Guard | Draft Profile

  • Career Highlights: Made an immediate impact at New Mexico after transferring from the College of Eastern Utah. Was conference’s Newcomer of the Year and Player of the Year in his only season at New Mexico.
  • Strengths: Skilled wing who can play three positions. Very good ballhandler for his size. Has good court vision. Can score in a variety of ways. Sticks his nose in on the glass.
McKinney didn’t have much to say about Hobson after the workout, judging by the workout notes. Hobson worked out with Luke Babbittt, Gordon Hayward, Lazar Hayward and Jordon Crawford, shooting guard out of Xavier. Needless to say, the Haywards and Babbitt got most of the attention. Crawford also went in the first round. I’m guessing that the Bucks took “the best player available here,” though I’s still not sure why that “best player available” isn’t Alabi.   I can’t find a profile of Alabi on Bucks Draft Central, so he must not have come in for a workout.
With their #44 pick from the Warriors (part of the Maggette trade, originally the Blazers pick) the Bucks ended up with Jerome Jordan, a 7-footer out of Tulsa. I guess that shoots the workout theory — the Bucks didn’t work Jordan or Alabi out. Maybe these 7-footers didn’t get around as much as some of the other guys, heat and humidity being what it’s been around here lately. For a minute or two there it looked like the Bucks had taken Gani Lawal, a power forward out of Ga. Tech.
Yahoo Analysis: Jerome Jordan is the rare example of a kid who stayed too long in college since he’d have been more likely to crack the first round had he left as an underclassman. Still, there is upside here if Jordan can diversify his game since the Tulsa big man has been playing basketball for only five years. — Jeff Eisenberg
He’s 7-feet tall. That’s two backup centers added to the fold in this draft. The Bucks have one more pick in this draft, believe it or not – four altogether. This ought to be interesting. It’s pick # 47, the only pick the Bucks have in this draft that was originally theirs.
Keith Keith “Tiny” Gallon – Oklahoma – Freshman
6’9” – 296 lbs – Forward

  • Finished fourth on the team with 10.3 points and first with 7.9 rebounds.
  • Hit 54.7 percent of his field goal attempts (122-223).
  • Attended Oak Hill Academy for his Junior and Senior years of high school.
Bucks workout notes here. Billy McKinney was fairly impressed with the entire group (Wayne Chism, Gani Lawal) that was in Milwaukee June 2 for a workout. But he seemed most impressed with the power forwards, who locked up on the blocks for some rugged matchups. It was exactly what the Bucks wanted to see.  It’s important to note that Gallon may have had the edge — he played high school ball with Brandon Jennings at Oak Hill Academy.
On Gani Lawal…
“He played well, too. It was a very competitive group, Gani Lawal going against Wayne Chism, sometimes Tiny Gallon and other times Deon Thompson. He’s very athletic, really good offensive rebounder and plays well off the ball.”

On Keith “Tiny” Gallon…
“Well that tells you a lot. It’s kind of an oxymoron when you look at Tiny he’s a big man. What I can say about him is that he’s done a great job of maintaining his weight, or getting it down. He started out, we talked to him in Chicago, he weighed 350 in high school. He’s down to 295 now, so his trend, in terms of his weight, has been going down. I’m sure once he gets with a pro team and is able to work with a strength and conditioning coach on a regular basis, he’s going to be even smaller. Maybe he’ll be Tiny, version two.”

And there you have it, Bucks draft day 2010.  Shotblocking Larry Sanders, small forward Hobson, big center Jerome Jordan and a big forward named Tiny Gallon.  Any draft day that ends with the Bucks having a guy with a wieght problem named Tiny Gallon has been a good day.

On Gallon making a name for himself aside from playing with Brandon Jennings in high school…
“That’s very important at this level for him. They played together at Oak Hill Academy for those people that don’t know that, and he and Brandon have a very good relationship, but in terms of how he will play in the pro game is going to depend on his merit—his work ethic, his commitment to keeping his weight down and improving his skill as a player.”

Andrew Bogut is a beast

“NBA fans, take a look at this guy Bogut,” said TNT analyst Kenny Smith after watching the highlight of Andrew Bogut blocking a driving Paul Pierce shot in the lane, snatching the ball and launching the outlet to half court where it found a streaking Brandon Jennings.

“He’s going to be in the NBA a long time.” Not sure what Charles was doing during these highlights of the Bucks 86-84 win over the Celtics Tuesday. Guffawww …

“He was a monster,” wrote Kelly Dwyer in “Behind the Box Score” at Ball Don’t Lie. “Actually, he was Andrew Bogut. I’m not going to tell you that he hasn’t improved this season, he has, but this guy has been there all along. It’s just taken a series of coaches (and his current coach’s second year) to realize that.”

So the Bucks are 34-29 and holding on to the fifth playoff spot in the East, hoping for a first round matchup against either the Celtics or the Hawks (for many reasons, Kevin Garnett chief among them, I hope it’s the Hawks). When the season started I didn’t think I’d be writing that sentence with 19 games to play, but there it is. Coach of the Year buzz (Smith again) is humming around Scott Skiles.

And Andrew Bogut (25 pts, 17 boards and a lot of great D against the Celtics) is at last playing like the big center who was at the top of the draft boards in 2005.  Bogut is now perhaps 2nd only to Dwight Howard as an NBA center.

Like Dwyer said, Andrew Bogut has become Andrew Bogut.

It’s about time.

Bucks get Salmons from the Bulls… Cavs load up with Antawn Jamison

Salmons_blog  TNT’s David Aldridge is twittering that the Bucks will send Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson to the Bulls for G-F John SalmonsFrank at Brewhoop has been tracking trade rumors this week.

JSOnline has confirmed the news. Salmons is headed to Milwaukee but there’s no note on who the expirings from Milwaukee will be.  Kurt Thomas is apparently NOT part of the deal, some sources said. 

Chicago Tribune reports that a deal has been reached “in principal” and that it’s Thomas and Elson for Salmons, but that the Bucks could “substitute” Hakim Warrick for Thomas.  Problem is, Warrick’s $3 mil. contract can’t be substituted for Thomas’ and have the deal fit under NBA trade rules. Carlos Delfino‘s contract would work. 

Ball Don’t Lie has a trade deadline post that will be updated through 3pm tomorrow. Apparently the trade may be expanding, but Salmons is definitely headed for Milwaukee.  The Bulls official blog is also keeping tabs.

The 6’6″, Salmons, a 20-pt. scorer when he was with the Kings last season has been odd man out fit in the Derrick Rose-Kirk Hinrich-Luol Deng mix in Chicago.  The Bulls  needed to clear some cap space to be in the summer 2010 free agent market (D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire etc.), and Salmons had an early termination option for 2010-11. It would have been no surprise if he had opted out of Chicago. 

In Milwaukee, Salmons would start at shooting guard, with Charlie Bell likely to return to a reserve role.

Salmons came to the Bulls last season as part of the Andres Nocioni-Brad Miller deal right before the trading deadline. With Deng sidelined, Salmons filled in at small forward and averaged 18+ pts per game as the Bulls drove past the Bucks and Pistons into the playoffs.

With Deng healthy and playing 38 mins per game, Salmons is playing shooting guard, but shooting just 10 times per game and scoring 12 ppg. He’s shooting well from Downtown, which never hurts a Scott Skiles team coached to launch ’em. Unless Salmons is little more than a less prolific version of Michael Redd, this trade improves the Bucks and doesn’t help the Bulls — especially if KT and Elson are the two involved. Somehow, I think Carlos Delfino’s name may come up, Hak Warrick’s already has. 

No matter which of the expirings are used (Luke Ridnour’s name has not come up), this looks good for the Bucks and not so good for the Bulls … for now.  However, Chicago’s priority now is clearing cap space to make a run at D-Wade, Chris Bosh or other summer free agent options.

Note: backup center Elson is on injured reserve and is expected to stay there for a few more weeks.

UPDATE: Seems Thomas and Elson may stick … it to the Bulls. What a terrible trade for Chicago – Elson is on the injured reserve and Kurt Thomas has very little game left. Again, the latest is that the trade is expanding but that Thomas may or may not be involved.

It came from Cleveland. “It” in this case is a monster built to win the NBA championship. Somehow, someway, the team with the best record in the league, running away with the top seed in the East, got better before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Just an hour or so ago, the Cavs announced that they had traded center Big Z (Zydrunas Ilgauskas), a first round pick and draft rights to a guy named Emil to the Wiz for former All-Star Antawn Jamison, a big forward with a scoring game who should fit right in with Lebron and the rest of his beastly Cavs.

Big Z was in the final year of his contract, paying him $11 mil. this season. With Anderson Varejao continuing to improve and with Shaquille O’Neal in the fold, Z became expendable. If healthy in the playoffs, Shaq and Andy will get the big man minutes. Jamison isn’t the outside shooter that Big Z is but he’s got a more versatile offensive game and younger legs.

The Clippers are involved in this deal, too, and the Cavs will pick up backup point guard Sebastian Telfair. The Wizards get former Buck Brian Skinner and Al Thornton, a couple of rugged big men to play with Big Z and Brendan Haywood. Drew Gooden, another rugged, veteran big forward, will go to the Clippers.

The Wiz just might have improved with this trade as well, particularly in the paint, where center Haywood this season has already given Andrew Bogut some problems. The Bucks are 0-2 against the Wiz with two left to play (both in early March).

The Bucks have two to play against the Cavs.

Meanwhile, the Bulls left shooting guard John Salmons at the hotel this evening in New York, a good sign that the Bulls GM John Paxson has another trade deadline deal good to go. This will be the third straight season the Bulls have hooked one up in the 24 hours before the deadline. Last season Paxson acquired Salmons and Brad Miller from the Kings.

Salmons hasn’t had a good season. The Bulls have Luol Deng healthy and highly effective this year at small forward, and Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose running the show from the guard spots. Salmons was the odd man out.

The Bulls have been mentioned as a team involved with the Rockets efforts to dump Tracy McGrady and $23 million contract in New York. Brewhoop runs down some of the T-Mac possibilities.

Now it seems that Salmons is headed for Milwaukee!

Ray Allen is still a Celtic, despite all the rumors this week. I could never see the Celtics capitulating to the Cavs and Magic and Hawks by giving up their title hopes. Trading Ray Allen would be the white flag waving from Boston.

As for the Bucks, I’d really love to see them figure out a way to bring Ray back, of course. I suppose the Bucks could send to the Celtics Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Hak Warrick, Kurt Thomas and Stackhouse. A Ray Allen-Brandon Jennings backcourt would send Bucks fans to the ticket office in droves, precisely what the franchise needs now that Scott Skiles and Bogut and Jennings, Mbah a Moute and Ilyasova have this thing headed in the right direction.

But I can’t see the Celtics trading Ray, and am pretty sure the rumors to that effect were those of the made-up ESPN sort.  The Celtics do appear about to trade Eddie House to the Knicks for Nate Robinson in a deal that will be announced sometime THursday.