Julie Andrews unfortunately was not in attendance at Bucks Media Day on Monday, but a completely new cast of guards were on hand. That's correct: The Bucks returned zero players from last year's point guard and shooting guard slots. Most people would argue that it was a good thing, as the Bucks could now rid themselves of the tandem swag anchor and star anew.
With five new parts (four if you don't count Luke Ridnour as ''new'') in the backcourt expected to help chip away at the memory left by Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and JJ Redick, expectations are bound to be set a little higher than they should be at this stage in the season. It's going to take some time for everyone to get to know each other, both on and off the court. I figured I could help in that process.
Height: 6-4 Weight: 190
Expectations: Learning under Luke Ridnour, Gary Neal. Probably won't play a lot of minutes right away unless an opportunity presents itself via injury or roster change.
(Legitimate) fun fact: Favorite TV show is King of Queens
Media Day observations: Excited to be there, experience the NBA, and get to work. Nothing surprising there.
Height: 6-2 Weight: 175
Experience: 11th season overall, second stint with the Bucks
Expectations: As of right now, he's most likely going to serve as the backup to Brandon Knight. That is not to say that he won't end up seeing more minutes or won't be on the floor in crunch time,but the general impression is that, for now, he will back up Knight or play off the ball in a similar way to how he was used in Minnesota last season. There's also the chance he starts over Knight. It's impossible to know that right now. Training camp just started.
(Legitimate) fun fact: Ridnour was a four-year highs chool letterman in tennis.
Media Day observations: Ridnour was one of the guys who was vocal about their excitement to be back in Milwaukee. His family enjoyed their time here when he played in Milwaukee from 2008-2010 so there's a deeper connection to the city than just matters on the court.
Ridnour also spoke of his role as a mentor to Brandon Knight. His goal was to make sure he could learn from him on how to carry yourself throughout a season and how to continue to get better and better. Again, pretty vanilla.
Height: 6-4 Weight: 210
Experience: 4th season
Expectations: Backup combo guard, knock down threes, bring magic Spurs formula over to the Bucks.
(Legitimate) fun fact: Favorite meal is a cheeseburger at TGI Friday's
Media Day observations: Perhaps Gary Neal's most valuable asset outside of his shooting ability is that he comes from a franchise that repeatedly wins and wins and wins. When asked about if he can become a leader after being a role player on the San Antonio Spurs, Neal thought he definitely could.
"That's my goal, to come and here and try to lead by example and not really vocally. In San Antonio we didn't have to many vocal leaders; we just had guys who showed up every day and put their hard hats on and worked, so that's what I'll take from San Antonio."
Also, Gary Neal made us laugh, even if it was unintentionally.
Gary Neal has said "bust your butt" as least three times in two minutes.— Jon Hartzell (@jhartzell2) September 30, 2013
Interesting choice of footwear.
Height: 6-5 Weight: 200
Experience: 6th season
Expectations: Starting shooting guard, handling a decent amount of the scoring responsibilities.
(Legitimate) fun fact: Business major at USC, ranked in the 95th percentile in ACT scores, prompting this:
Knight (straight A's in HS) and Mayo (29 on ACT) win the super coveted title of "most book smart starting backcourt" pretty easily, right?— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) October 1, 2013
Media Day observations: Mayo did have offers from other teams this offseason, but chose Milwaukee because he felt that the Bucks actually valued him and wanted him to be part their team. Though he was signed by Dallas last year and had success, going back to the Mavericks was apparently not going to be an option. "There wasn't really an invitation to come back," Mayo said.
Mayo also said he likes everything about Milwaukee (his little brother Todd plays for Marquette) except for the cold. He'll fit right in.
Height: 6-3 Weight: 189
Experience: 3rd season
Expectations: Probably the starting point guard, though the popular perception is that he's more of combo or shooting guard, but more on that in a minute.
(Legitimate) fun fact: 4.3 GPA in high school. Whatever academics you boast are invalid.
Media Day observations: Knight is jacked. I'm not going to waste much time here admiring an athlete's physique, but my goodness. Both him and Mayo, though flawed in their own ways, will definitely present a much better defensive effort than last year's duo, from both a tactical and physical standpoint. Though I guess that's not really saying a whole lot when last year's guards had the defensive integrity of loosely-built sandcastles.
More importantly, Knight's interview was more unique than anyone else's, outside of Larry Sanders' burn notice (which we'll get to in part 5). He was definitely ready to address the criticisms about his weaknesses.
On whether he can be "nasty" enough to deal with opposing point guards (some would say he's too even-keeled):
"I'm the same way. If they're nasty, I'm nasty too. What do you mean [I'm not nasty]?
On him not being a true point guard, perhaps his biggest obstacle and this point in his career:
"You look around the league, and most of the [air quotations] point guards are scorers. To be a point guard in this game at this day in age, you've got to be able to score the basketball. There are few point guards that dominate the game solely by passing the ball."
"If you look at the stats, most of the [air quotations] true point guards in the league shoot more than I shoot the ball anyways. If you look at the shot attempts per game, most of the guys average more shots than I do."
So, whether you are encouraged by Knight bringing up stats without provocation is up to you. Maybe you think it shows he's using his intelligence in unique ways, maybe you think it's a meaningless point all together. However, it does reveal that Knight isn't going to try and be something he's not. He's going to play point guard the way Larry Drew and him see as the best fit, and take it from there and try and develop into a valuable asset going forward.
Training camp is going to be tough with all the new faces, especially in the backcourt. If all goes right though, these names should become familiar in no time.