No playoffs, potential lockout on the horizon, "down" draft class, all topped off with questions about the future of the Bucks' ownership. Quite the exciting summer so far, huh?
It's exhausting talking about concerns and problems all the time. We're all disappointed that our high expectations weren't met this year, but there's always room for optimism, and there's plenty of room for improvement. So on a brighter note, let's look back on some of the more successful games of the Milwaukee Bucks' 2010-2011 season!
To kick off the new series of retrospectives, let's start with an early-season performance from Brandon Jennings, the only game he's played in his short career that stands on the same plane with his (in)famous 55-point outing: his triple-double in a 98-88 home-opening victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
There was more to this victory than an exceptional game at the point, though. Carlos Delfino showed off his range with a 5-11 shooting performance from deep, while Luc Mbah a Moute grabbed nine boards, Bogut blocked four shots, and Jon Brockman drew, like, thirty charges.
Hoopdata's advanced box score shows how even the game actually was, but the Bucks held a major advantage in one area: offensive rebounding. Milwaukee outrebounded Charlotte 14-5 on the offensive glass and finished with an exceptional 37.8 ORR.
Jennings stated early in the year that his goal was to average double-digit assists per game, but this was one of only four times he reached that benchmark. Clearly both he and the team will need to perform at a much higher level, with much more consistency, to fulfill such a pledge. For now, let's take a closer look at each of Jennings' helpers from this game with the help of Synergy Sports Technology. Sorry I can't post any videos, but I'll do my best with what we've got.
Assist #1: Jennings brings the ball up the left side of the court and hits Bogut, who was trailing the rest of the offense, with a pass in stride a few feet outside the three-point lane. Bogut drives down the right side of the lane and tosses in a short running hook shot. Frankly, it's a bit of a stretch to give Jennings the dime on this play, but it's still very pretty. A number of us have commented before on how good Bogut often looks driving to the hoop and wished he could be set up for those plays more often. Another big key in this play is the presence of Carlos Delfino and John Salmons behind the arc on the strong side, preventing the Bobcats from helping on the drive too effectively.
Assist #2: Another easy assist, Jennings hits Delfino behind the arc off a Gooden screen. Gerald Wallace for some reason decides to go under the screen despite being able to drive a small farm implement though the space between Gooden and Delfino.
Assist #3: Another easy pass off a similar play, Bogut sets a screen for Salmons in the corner, who runs as though he's going to curl into the lane, but instead takes a step back behind the arc and sinks the trey. The initial misdirection gets Salmons' defender caught up on Bogut.
Assist #4: Here's a nice one. A block by Bogut careens right into Brandon's hands, who races down the court spaced by Salmons and Maggette. Bogut, again trailing by about a second, runs down the right block and catches a pass slung in from Jennings. Only Shaun Livingston stands between Andrew and the basket. DUNK.
Assist #5: Not a complicated pass, but a really good post-up from Bogut who winds up covered by Stephen Jackson before the rest of either team gets set. Jennings enters the ball quickly into Andrew who makes a quick spin toward the baseline and tosses in a hook shot. Cap'n Jack literally jumps up and down in frustration.
Assist #6: Off a Charlotte miss, Salmons rebounds, tosses to Jennings, and heads for the right wing behind the arc. Somewhere the Charlotte defense gets mixed up, because Boris Diaw winds up guarding Bogut under the basket and two other Bobcats are hanging out near the free throw line. Jennings pulls up for a jumper on the left elbow, but passes out of his shot to a wide-open Salmons for three. A classic "Ughhh...AAHH!" moment.
Assist #7: Another simple spot-up assist, Delfino is camped behind the arc after a Tyrus Thomas breakaway dunk. The Charlotte defense seemed unprepared for Milwaukee to advance the ball back up the court so fast and find themselves outnumbered 4-to-3. Jennings whips the pass cross-court a few feet over midcourt and hits Carlos for another wide-open look.
Assist #8: Mbah a Moute sets a pair of screens for Salmons on the right wing while Delfino spots up in the opposite corner, Bogut on the left elbow. With Salmons unable to free himself, Bogut sets a quick screen for Delfino, whose defender once again goes underneath, allowing Delfino to receive the pass and hit an elbow jumper.
Assist #9: Nothing more than simple ball rotation, With Jennings giving it up to Salmons off a staggered double-screen. Salmons doesn't like the shot he gets, so he gives it back to Jennings who swings to Delfino in the corner for three. This is late in the third quarter, so presumably Delfino had already hit a few long shots, yet his defender was playing off him by a decent amount. Don't ask me why. Incidentally, when Salmons passed back to Jennings, Brandon was wide open behind the arc, but passed up the shot to get it to Delfino.
Assist #10: Jennings brings the ball up the right side and goes into a simple pick and roll set with Bogut, which frees him up to drive toward the basket down the right side of the lane. After just a step or two, Brandon dishes to Delfino in the corner for a three. To Jennings' credit, Delfino shoots with a little more space here because his defender stepped in a bit to help on Brandon's drive. Of all the spot-up assists Jennings had, he definitely gets the most credit for creating this one.
All in all, Jennings assisted on five spot-up shots, three shots off screens, a quick post-up and a transition dunk, according to Synergy. Most of Brandon's passes lacked flash, but they sure got the job done. Like a no-hitter in baseball, it's tough to rack up a triple-double without some help from your teammates. Jennings benefited from Delfino's hot shooting, assisting on four of his five triples. He also benefited from some poor defense by the Bobcats on occasion. It was a solid offensive night for most of the team, as the Bucks finished with a 112.6 ORtg. Hopefully we see more of these games next season. Heck, hopefully we see any games next season!
I apologize for that last line, this is supposed to be a cheerful post. Here, this should help.