The first batch of games brought a few things to light:
- If all the talk about guaranteed minutes wasn't already moot, it is now because Yi Jianlian is plenty good enough to play, and play a lot.
- The Bucks haven’t solved their road woes, although they may have figured out how to play against division opponents.
- Protecting the glass isn’t likely among the biggest problems.
There is one question however that the first three games made more confusing rather than clarified: who is the number two option after Michael Redd?
Coming into the season, many projected breakout years for Andrew Bogut, Mo Williams, and Charlie Villanueva. Williams improved drastically last year and at 24 only figured to improve. Many players make a big leap in their third season, which Bogut and Villanueva were entering.
Yet none of them are averaging even half as many points per game as Redd. Instead of providing consistency, all three have been thoroughly up-and-down. Worse, they’ve been more down than up. Each of them played pretty well against the Bobcats, but even in that game Bogut fouled out and Williams made the costly error of going for two when three was needed. They sandwiched that game with a pair of nondescript performances against the Magic and Bulls.
- Williams, destined to improve as a distributor, is tied for 65th in the NBA with 3.0 assists per game.
- Bogut, the team’s hope for a low-post scoring threat, is tied for 162nd in the NBA with 7.0 points per game.
- Villanueva, hoping to find consistency, is shooting .300 from the field, .286 on three’s, and .571 from the line.
Yi Jianlian and Charlie Bell have been pleasant surprises, but before getting too excited it is worth pointing out that neither are shooting .430 from the field or averaging double figures in points. They are what they are: Yi, a promising rookie, and Bell, a capable backup combo guard. Neither should be relied upon to step up as the number two option after Redd. It’s nice that they have performed well while Villanueva and Williams start slowly, but they can’t be counted on for big-time offensive production throughout the season.
Meanwhile, Desmond Mason and Bobby Simmons have taken turns offering solid but unspectacular moments.
Luckily, we’re only three games in, which is less than 4 % of the season. So there is plenty of time for Bogut or Williams or someone else to assert their status as the second offensive option after Redd. Let's hope it doesn't take too long though.
Who's the best hope for a number two?