- The Bucks have had plenty of problems, but at least injuries hadn't been one of them--until now. Charles Gardner reports that Desmond Mason will miss 6-8 weeks for a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Krystkowiak said he has not decided who will replace Mason in the starting lineup against Charlotte on Saturday night. The Bucks experimented with a few combinations in practice, including one look that had Jake Voskuhl at the power forward spot and Yi Jianlian at the small forward position. Charlie Bell and Bobby Simmons are candidates to start.
"I don't know yet, and I don't want to let anybody know yet," Krystkowiak said. "We used all kinds of matchups and lineups in practice. Either way we go, we've got our hands full with some athletic wings, (Jason) Richardson and (Gerald) Wallace and those guys. It will be a shootaround decision tomorrow morning."
While Mason's offensive game isn't a great fit for the Bucks' halfcourt style, he's actually been more efficient than in previous years (OK, not saying much) and his defensive effort has been one of the brighter spots on an otherwise bad defensive team. Small forward had been a weak spot anyway, so we'll have to keep an eye on whether Mason's injury inspires Larry Harris to look into trades for help at the 3. In the meantime we'll likely see a patchwork of solutions at the 3, including more Bobby Simmons, more three guard lineups and possibly some burn for CV/Yi at the 3. If the start of the third quarter on Wednesday is any indication, Charlie Bell could start, but personally I'd like to see Simmons get a look with the starters. On a positive note, Michael Ruffin has recovered from his broken wrist and will be available Saturday against the Bobs.
- In response to Krystkowiak's call for giving more minutes to defenders, Tom Enlund wonders who the Bucks' best defenders are.
Defensive players? We'll let Krystkowiak handle that one.
"(Guard Royal) Ivey was on the floor until 2 minutes were left in the game," said Krystkowiak, referring to Wednesday's loss to Sacramento. "He was one of those defensive guys that were out there. I think Charlie Bell is doing a tremendous job defensively as well. So those guys are in the defensive mind-set. I think Jake (Voskuhl) fits the mold along those same lines."
- Among the Bucks' main defensive issues: defending the three point shot. Charles Gardner writes the Bucks are now last in allowed 3fg%. But not only do the Bucks allow a high percentage, they also allow the third most three pointers made per game (7.3/game). Allow a small amount at a high percentage and it's not a huge problem, but when teams go to town shooting open threes it's a different matter. Meanwhile, the Bucks themselves are 24th in 3fg% (34%) and 24th in 3fg/game (5.3/15.8).
- Brett at the The Bratwurst is taking a comprehensive look at Larry Harris' tenure as Bucks GM. I think Brett does a great job chronicling both the big and small moves, but reading through the list shows just how subjective grading a GM can be, as well as how interdependent moves are. Reasonable people can easily disagree on what constitutes a good versus bad move when you consider the various standards by which you judge them: short term/long term payoff, salary cost, cap flexibility, player potential vs. proven ability, etc.
- It seemed there were "Yi is adjusting well" articles almost every day early in the season, but even with some improved play of late those articles have become a little played out. SI has another one, but there's actually a bit of newer, more recent information in there.
Yi, who acknowledged at the start that he put too much pressure on himself, is also getting more comfortable with his surroundings. It helps that his parents, Yi Jingliu and Mai Meiling, are living in Milwaukee to help him adjust.
"I'm an only child,'' the younger Yi told The Associated Press in an interview. "When I'm gone, it's different in the house without me, and so it's really nice having them here to help me, and of course, anyone who has their family here is definitely more comfortable.''
Charlie Villanueva has another blog post over at NBA.com. Pretty long post where CV touches on the Bucks' close losses, his work as spokesperson for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, and Dominican players in the NBA. Oh, and he's also been learning about Chinese culture...and rats:
Our 2008 is known as the Year of the Rat by the Chinese. Thanks to fellow teammate and my buddy Yi Jianlian, the year of the Rat is symbolic of opportunity and good prospects. I read somewhere during a crisis rats come into their own because they are level headed and intuitive, but often their energies can be scattered by their over ambitious tendencies. If their over ambitious enthusiasm can be avoided there is no reason why Rats should not do well. I almost see a similar comparison with the Bucks. I expect great things and positive changes for myself and the Bucks for 2008. Let's bring it on!
- Amid all the negativity of late, Jim Paschke highlights something good that you probably didn't hear about.
- Bucks.com recently had their second installment of questions from fifth graders. This time, Yi Jianlian steps up to the plate.