A hard foul can be as effective as a block sometimes.Benny Sieu/JS
- Really good to see Tom Enlund writing about the possibility of Yi Jianlian and Charlie Villanueva playing together as the 4/5 combo. The pair combined for the last couple minutes of the Lakers' game following Bogut's sixth foul, which worked well because a) Phil Jackson did the Bucks a favor and immediately yanked Andrew Bynum and b) both guys' free throw accuracy was useful down the stretch. Then they stole a couple minutes together against Dallas on Saturday. Will Larry K go to the option in the future?
"Not to take anything away from Dallas' (centers), but they're not providing a whole lot of offensive punch for their team," said Krystkowiak. "It's not like (Yi or Villanueva) would necessarily get buried down in the post and would have to defend against a big center. That would probably be my focus - defensively making sure we could guard the other team and also keep in mind rebounding.
"If they can hold their own on the glass, then it would be something where I think we could pose problems for the other team in terms of spreading the floor and making one of their big guys have to come out and have to guard one of them, provided we're not giving stuff up."
Everyone always seems desperate to get CV and Yi playing for stretches at small forward, but so far LK has shown a strong preference against going big at the 3. CV has played 41% of the available minutes at PF and just 1% of the minutes at SF, while Yi has gotten 51% of the PF minutes and 2% of the center minutes. The greater significance of the possible pairing is that Yi being able to play some at center could lengthen Villanueva's tenure with the Bucks.
- I've been harping on Andrew Bogut's emergence as a shot-blocker for a few weeks now, and Charles Gardner takes a deeper look at the team's sudden improvement in the art of denial. After finishing last season as the league's worst in shot-blocking, the Bucks entered Saturday's game fifth in the NBA. In the article Bogut talks a bit about his swatting strategy:
"If you get there late in this league, you're going to get dunked on," Bogut said. "I try to meet 'em at the block. If you meet 'em any later, guys like (Atlanta forward) Josh Smith, you saw what he did the other night.
"On big guys, you wait until they leave their feet, then you leave your feet. That's what I tried to do with (Andrew) Bynum, although I got called for a couple fouls."
While the Bucks won't be striking fear into the hearts of opposing teams overnight, they're doing their best to make opponents think twice when they venture into the paint. Bogut, Yi, Villanueva and Mason all had big blocks down low to deny lay-ups against Dallas. But just as important may have been Bogut's hard foul on Nowitzki (see above) in the first half, sending Dirk to the floor for a couple minutes.
- Everyone's been trying to peg Yi as "the next __" for quite some time, and Nowitzki is the name that comes up most often. Following the win over Dallas, Tom Enlund asked Larry Krsytkowiak about Yi's performance against his possible archetype.
"I just assume that Yi doesn’t know anybody," said Krystkowiak. "We watch a lot of personnel and individual film and he didn’t share with me that he’s familiar with him. Yi spends a lot of time in the film room because every game he plays, it’s at least two or three (new) people that he may see that he may be matched up against. So he’s becoming a student of the game. He has to understand tendencies and other team’s personnel."
I think at the moment I'd say his "best case" would be a combination of Nowitzki and Chris Bosh. Outside of his 2/2 performance from deep in Houston he really hasn't looked for his three point shot, but it appears that will be a part of his game in the future. Physically Yi reminds me most of Bosh, wiry strong and certainly quicker and more explosive than Dirk. Down the road his playing style might be similar to Dirk's, mixing in post stuff with perimeter shots and opportunistic drives. Yeah, I think we'd all be OK with that.
- In the meantime Yi still has a ways to go in terms of figuring out how to score against big bodies down low, which is the one area of his game that has been worse than I expected it to be (don't tell Dirk, though). You get the feeling that he's still figuring out what he can and can't get away with against NBA athletes, which in fairness should be somewhat expected given he was always taller and more athletic than his CBA opponents. According to 82games, Yi's eFG% inside is a paltry .308, with 27% of his shots blocked. That's easily the worst among the Bucks' players not named Charlie Bell, but he also boasts the best eFG% on jump shots (.500) on the team. Given his length and athleticism there's little excuse for his ineptitude aside from inexperience and a lack of strength. Athletically he flies up and down the court and moves extremely well laterally, but his reported 37" vertical isn't quite the sort of pogo-stick hops some had advertised. Not that I'm complaining--as an all-around athlete he's still something of a freak for a guy of his size, and if he doesn't become a 20 ppg guy down the road it won't be for a lack of athleticism.
- So apparently Ramon Sessions isn't finding this whole D-League proposition very challenging. Following up on his 27/10 debut, Sessions lit up the Sioux Falls Skyforce for 34 points (11/17 fg), six assists, and six rebounds in Tulsa's 117-109 win.
- Jim Paschke writes that the Bucks' players had their annual business seminar last week.
- Jeramey at The Bratwurst brings up a sore subject among Bucks fans: Tim Thomas. By the way, did I miss something or is the #5 excluded altogether from the Bucks' jersey number countdown video that they show before games?