Training camp draws near, Beno Udrih gets all statistical, season previews begin

Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

With camp only days away, informal workouts are in full swing and the debate about minutes and rotations is shifting into high gear.

FS Wisconsin | Bucks to showcase frontcourt depth
Ryan Kartje serves up a good read on the Bucks' big man philosophy as well as some interesting quotes from Beno Udrih, who seems to enjoy treading the line between guy-who-just-wants-to-play and perennial complainer.

"I thought my role was going to be different last year, and things were different," Udrih said. "It's a fact: I had the best plus/minus last year and only played like 16, 17 minutes per game. I really don't know what my role is. ... I played consistently for like four years when I was in Sacramento, and I wanted to come here and help the team."

Udrih seems to gripe publicly about his lack of playing time on a fortnightly basis, so that in and of itself isn't really alarming. But I am pretty tickled to see him citing his plus/minus numbers, which were pretty great last year after being slightly negative his last couple years in Sacramento. Avoiding time on the court with Carlos Delfino and Drew Gooden really helps in that department, but it's not to diminish Beno's ability to run the offense and shift between both guard spots--a rather valuable skill on a roster that also features Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Udrih struggled mightily with his perimeter shot last year and couldn't replicate his excellent finishing of prior years, all of which explains how his excellent 58% true shooting mark in Sacramento crashed to a sub-50% figure in Milwaukee.

Udrih figures to have a clearer role with Shaun Livingston now out of the picture, and my guess is that his playing time will hover in the 20-25 mpg range--assuming Scott Skiles doesn't fall head over heels in love with Doron Lamb and Marquis Daniels. But even if that happened, the fact that Udrih and Brandon Jennings are the only true PGs on the Bucks' roster will no doubt help the Slovenian carve out more regular playing time. Which is probably a good thing considering his tendency to shoot better when he plays more minutes.

As for the Bucks' crowded frontcourt, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. Ersan Ilyasova playing somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 mpg and Samuel Dalembert playing 20-25 mpg seem like the safest bets, but beyond that everything gets fuzzy. Aside from Luc Mbah a Moute and Tobias Harris potentially getting some run at the PF spot, all the other bigs can split time between PF/C.

Sure, the Bucks might talk about Gooden getting to move back to his natural four position, but they just gave Ersan Ilyasova a big chunk of change to take the majority of those minutes and there are a number of bigger and smaller guys capable of stealing backup minutes at the 4. So then what? Is Gooden your primary backup/change of pace center or is Joel Pryzbilla actually going to play every night (hopefully not)? And what about Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh getting time there? Let's just play some games already.

NBC Sports | Bucks Season Preview
Our bud Matt Moore offers up his detailed take on the 12/13 Bucks. My only complaint is the characterization that the Bucks' offense "continued to run into the gutter" after the Ellis acquisition; in actuality the Bucks were pretty fantastic offensively in the season's second half, scoring 109.2 pts/100 possessions in the final 27 games (16-11). While there's some bias in there due to the Bucks' easier schedule late in the season, that's damn close to the Thunder's 109.8 pts/100, which ranked second in the league. Not bad considering Monta Ellis never really hit his stride (and may never) playing with Brandon Jennings.

Even so, I'm hardly assuming the Bucks' will be a top five offense in 12/13. Ilyasova and Mike Dunleavy may not replicate last season's exceptional efficiency and there are plenty of new faces, some of whom bring a decidedly defensive bias (ie swapping Dalembert for Gooden). That's probably for the best, but it makes it even harder to predict what kind of identity the Bucks will end up carving out for themselves--especially when you consider how quickly the Bucks shifted from an all-defensive outfit in '09-'11 to a run-and-gun club last year.. A middle-of-the-road offense and defense wouldn't be a bad starting point in all honesty.

Briefly:

  • HOOPSWORLD | Tobias Harris is among ten sophomores poised for breakout seasons in 12/13.
  • ESPN | The Bucks check in at #19 in Marc Stein's first preseason power rankings.
  • Hollinger | As already discussed by Steve yesterday, John Hollinger offers his take on the 12/13 Bucks. My favorite tidbit: Larry Sanders was first among centers in blocks, steals and fouls per minute last year.
  • CBS Sports | Could Steph Curry really be the first of the '09 PGs to get an extension? I'd be very surprised if he was, but stranger things have happened. For what it's worth: I don't see Jennings and the Bucks agreeing to a new contract before the October 31 deadline, despite Jennings' insistence last month that he would like to get a deal out of the way. If anyone signs soon I'd expect it to be Ty Lawson; he just changed agents which may or may not indicate a new deal is on the way.
  • Bucks.com | Truman Reed looks back at the high school dominance of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.
  • Bucks Media Day | It's on Monday, and yes, camp starts next week.
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