Slick Mo: Thinking Aerodynamically?
- Yi Jianlian will represent the Bucks tonight as a member of the rookie team in the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge. The sophomores have dominated the series and won 155-114 last year. The second year players will again have more star power, including Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, and Lamarcus Aldridge, making them easy favorites. Tom Enlund of JS Online writes Yi will come off the bench.
At the rookies shoot-around workout Friday morning, New Orleans Hornets assistant coach Darrell Walker, who will coach the rookies, said that he would start Mike Conley of Memphis at point guard, Kevin Durant of Seattle at shooting guard, Jeff Green of Seattle at small forward, Luis Scola of Houston at power forward, and Al Horford of Atlanta at center.
- Jim Paschke is in New Orleans covering All-Star weekend from an Yi-perspective for Paschketball.
New Orleans is an NBA extravaganza waiting to happen. I arrived in the Crescent City early Thursday afternoon. It is the first time I have been back since hurricane Katrina as we didn't televise the Bucks only appearance here this season.
- JS Online's Charles Gardner writes that the Bucks' failures are all too familiar. We've been tracking the team's progress, or lack thereof, periodically. The Bucks' 19-34 record is identical to their record after 53 games last year.
Despite a change in coaches, plenty of off-season activity and optimistic talk of a playoff run, the Bucks have failed miserably again this season.
- With All-Star weekend upon us, the Bucks have some time ponder their many problems. The Bucks battled valiantly against the Hornets (Brew Hoop recap) in their last game before the break, which was a much better way to conclude the pseudo first half of the season than most of their recent losses would have been. Still, by most indications positive energy is in short supply. And wins are definitely not piling up, as the Bucks won just four times in the last month. Brett at The Bratwurst is correct when he writes the Bucks have stumbled into the All-Star break.
Look, no matter what walk of life you are in, whenever groups of people are involved in something that is going badly they start hating each other. Poorly-run businesses have politicking and back-stabbing all the time. Divorces happen in families that have had a run of bad luck. It’s normal. It’s part of life. And in professional sports (probably in basketball more than others, because the small roster size makes each individual more important) closed-door meetings and infighting happens with every single team when things aren’t going so great.
- The Bucks join the 76ers, Knicks, Pacers, Bulls, and Bobcats this year in not having an Eastern Conference All-Star. They are also likely to join this group in the lottery this summer. In any event, SI.com's Marty Burns ranks the All-Stars from 1-26. Michael Redd has slightly favorable numbers to last-place choice Joe Johnson, but don't read too much into that. There were other guards who didn't make the team that were more worthy than Redd, like Jose Calderon.
- So while no Bucks are headed to New Orleans to play in this weekend's main event, a couple Bucks should be playing as anti-All-Stars in the mind of SI.com's Paul Forrester. It's generous to say November and December didn't treat Charlie Bell and Bobby Simmons kindly. They are slowly recovering, and have actually played pretty well in February, but two months is a lot more damaging than two weeks is helpful.
After missing all of last season with multiple foot surgeries, Simmons is putting up the kind of journeyman-type numbers (7.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 41.9 FG%) he did early in his career, before a breakout season in 2004-05 with the Clippers persuaded Bucks GM Harris to give him a five-year, $47 million deal. Simmons isn't the only reason Milwaukee appears headed for a housecleaning this summer, but he sure is pushing a big broom.
- The Bucks also won't have anyone in the D-League All-Star Game, though Ramon Sessions and David Noel have played on an elite level in their time in the NBDL. Sessions parlayed his excellent play into a call-up from the Bucks, and promptly and sadly broke his left hand. Noel meanwhile has only played in eight games for the Tulsa 66'ers after recovering from his own health problems. The NBA's farm system is still a work in progress, but in an otherwise disappointing season, the play of Sessions and Noel has exceeded expectations. Noel is averaging 19.0 points and shooting 47.5 % from long range, a very encouraging sign for a player known more for his strong defensive ability.
- For many and obvious reasons, it's way too early to understand much about the draft, but speculation is an inevitable, almost escapist attraction for fans of troubled teams. On that note, Draft Express (which has not taken into account team needs) has the Bucks taking Roy Hibbert while NBADraft.net has them taking Nicolas Batum.
- Hardwood Paroxysm hosts Round 6 of the Blogger MVP/ROY Rankings. Great host, great blog.