John Hollinger appears to be a statistics guru. Or maybe they just have a huge supercomputer at ESPN. Maybe both. In any event, Hollinger's system projects that the Bucks will slide into the 9th spot tied record-wise with the Chicago Bulls. Besides the Bulls, the Nets appear to be the main other competition for the 8th spot. Interestingly enough, the simulation projects that our record could be as good as 49-33 (has it seen the Bucks play?) or as poor as 28-54 (winning only 2 remaining games seems a bit pessimistic). In any event, our playoff odds are about 4 out of 9 right now.
The question is: if the Bucks could make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed (about the only way that's possible right now), would you want them to?
It's an intriguing question to be sure. If they don't make it, they're likely to get a pretty mediocre draft pick anyways. This is a question I'm sure John Hammond is asking himself with the trade deadline quickly approaching on Thursday.
If you want to sell our shot at the playoffs right now and try and clear up some cap space, there are ways to do it. But with the terrible economy, and the state of the Bucks, the interest is probably lukewarm. I keep hearing Portland as trade partner. That's possible. The fact the Bucks have stayed afloat with a makeshift team tells you that they have some promise - young players with a lot of potential that will probably be the core of the team. They include:
- Ramon Sessions: He is 12th in Hollinger's player efficiency rankings (PER) at the PG position in the NBA, and the 7th best in the East. He is the best by farin our Division.
- Charlie Villanueva: He is 8th in Hollinger's PER for PF in the NBA, 4th in the East, and best in our Division.
Not only that, but these two guys have played remarkably well in the absence of Bogut, Redd and Ridnour. Obviously you want to hang on to Bogut too, even though he's injury prone. Luc Richard Mbah-a-Moute is a defensive role-player who can bring lots of energy and create plays. Eventually I think he'll wind up being a 6th man. Those 4 guys appear to be the core. You can say what you want about Villanueva being good trade bait, but the way he's been playing, I think he's a keeper.
Everyone else is expendable. Redd has a good PER on Hollinger's ratings, but he's been around awhile and we've been mediocre at best. Perhaps it's time for a change of scenery. Redd probably won't go during the season, but could be packaged during the offseason. Jefferson is the obvious choice to go now, along with maybe Ridnour, if Hammond indeed wants to build for the future starting now.
Then we need to fill in the SG and SF spots and find some good bench players. Charlie Bell just got a contract, so him and Mbah-a-Moute would be a good start to the bench. Taking a look at unrestricted free agents at the 2 or 3 spots this upcoming offseason:
Mike Bibby, Flip Murray, Ben Gordon, Wally Szczerbiak, Allen Iverson, Jamal Crawford, Ron Artest, Marquis Daniels, Fred Jones, Steve Francis, Quentin Richardson (option), Desmond Mason, Hedo Turkoglu (option), Andre Miller, Grant Hill, Bobby Jackson, Michael Finley, Kyle Korver and Juan Dixon.
Overall, not a lot of starting potential. There's a few out there, and most of them would start mainly at the 2, or be a hybrid guard (could get interesting since we have another guy who could play both in Sessions). I'd say Bibby, Gordon, Iverson, Turkoglu, or Miller would be positive additions.
The draft class will probably be pretty deep and good at the 2 position, but the talent will fall off quickly at the 3.
Given poor options for acquiring a SF, one has to wonder if trading Jefferson would be a good idea. That being said, Jefferson's production hasn't been earth-shattering. If we're actually going for it this season (ok, I'm laughing to that "going for it" would mean scraping into the playoffs) then you would probably want to hang on to Jefferson.
Given that, I would probably trade Jefferson and Ridnour for expiring contracts or cheap help at the 3, or both. Then I would trade Redd in the offseason for a top-half-of-the-league type SF, and grab a SG in the draft or through free agency.
In any event, our playoff hopes are still alive, and we have a bright future if we can hang on to Sessions, VIllanueva and Bogut. That was the point of this article. That, and it probably wouldn't hurt to unload Jefferson if there's an end game to get a good SF.