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Saturday Notes: Alexander in Milwaukee, RJ analysis, Bogut news

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Sleepy Joe: Alexander takes a snooze in the Cousins Center lobby. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

  • Alex reports from Summerfest where Joe Alexander was in his element.
  • Sportsbubbler delivers video from the Alexander press conference while Charles Gardner provides a recap.There's an allusion there to Alexander possibly wearing the same #8 jersey Marques Johnson wore, but it looks like the jersey they presented him was simply an "08" jersey printed up for whomever the Bucks picked in the 2008 draft. I'll guess Alexander ends up wearing #11, following in the miniature footsteps of T.J. Ford, whom the Bucks happened to pick eighth five years ago.  Chatting at ESPN before the draft, Joe warned it could get ugly if he doesn't get it:
    I chose 11 because it was a number I wore in middle school. I'm going to wear 11 if I can. If not, I have some serious thinking to do about whether I really want to play in this league.
    He's got a sense of humor, kids!  Needless to say, his first Braeger Chevrolet commercial should be awe-inspiring.
  • Dave Heller at the JS has a survey of Bucks' draft grades. For the most part the spread in grades (C- to A) depend on how strongly the writers felt about drafting for quality vs. positional need. Aside from those, Jonathan Givony at DX also gives the Bucks an "A":
    With Jefferson in the fold, we definitely feel better about seeing Milwaukee take a chance on Joe Alexander with the 8th overall pick. He was always going to have problems stepping up from day one and justifying being drafted that high considering his lack of polish, but with Jefferson on board and minutes to be had off the bench at the 3 and especially the 4, Alexander can develop at a more reasonable pace, instead of being thrown straight into the fire.
  • Ty at Bucks Diary is working overtime.  On a positive note, he breaks down the numbers and argues that Scott Skiles' defensive magic could pay immediate dividends:
    As I said above, all but one player improved his career defensive efficiency under Skiles, and the minimum improvement was 3 points per possession, with the average improvement being 5.5 points per possession. That means victories, especially in the Eastern Conference. If you project Skiles average improvement effect onto the Bucks roster from last season, and you assume that their putrid offense won't get any worse, then I estimate the "Skiles Effect" alone will add 11 wins to the Bucks record.
    It's a pretty startling stat, and there's no doubt that the 08/09 Bucks will provide a fascinating test of Skiles' incredible defensive record. In efficiency terms, Skiles' teams have typically been excellent defensively (2nd, 7th, and 1st from '04-'07 in Chicago) and below-average offensively (26th, 23rd and 21st over the same period) while playing at a fast pace.

    To me the question is 1) how much can Skiles really help the Bucks defensively and 2) can they still be a respectable team offensively. The Bucks were dead last in defensive efficiency last year, so there's no doubt some improvement will occur, but how much is reasonable?  The Bulls were 21st in 02/03, then 16th the following season when Skiles took over 16 games into the season.  So they were pretty bad and Skiles produced results rather quickly. I'd love to know the biggest improvement a team has made from year-to-year in that category.  For what it's worth, the world champion Celtics produced one of the best defensive performances of all time this year after ranking 16th last year. Maybe they could spare us Kevin Garnett?

    Secondly, the Bucks were below-average offensively last year, ranking 21st in efficiency, but I agree with Ty that as of now it's difficult to imagine the Bucks will be any worse than that. Normally you expect there to be a tradeoff of worse offense with improved defense, but it's possible the 07/08 Bucks were simply so poorly coached and unmotivated that those rules won't apply (well, we hope). Afterall, at the moment their worst starters offensively are Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva, two guys capable of going for 20/10 on any given night (I'll ignore CV's offensive inefficiency for the moment). There's a solid chance Villanueva and/or Mo Williams aren't on the roster by opening night, but the addition of Jefferson alone gives the Bucks one of the most offensively potent teams in the least on paper.
  • On the flip side, Ty says Richard Jefferson's defense is in clear decline. That's somewhat understandable given he had ankle surgery two years ago, though he did play in all 82 games last season. Last year RJ's opponent PER was about the same as Desmond Mason's, but the key difference is that RJ's own production actually outpaced the guys he was guarding, which can't be said of Desmond. Both guys might suffer from having to guard the best opponent wing player more often than not, and the Nets were also better defensively when RJ wasn't on the court. Still, the Bucks were outproduced at every position in 07/08, so as long as Jefferson can be consistently better than the guy he's guarding--which wasn't true of Yi and Simmons--the trade could make a big difference.
  • Speaking of which, how does Jefferson feel about moving to Milwaukee? Dave D'Alessandro writes he has yet to say anything about his new gig.
    Still no first-hand word from R. Jefferson on his life being turned upside down. We could tell you third-hand that he's pretty flummoxed by the whole thing, which we've heard from two of his closest friends. But he dutifully ran his camp yesterday and is at a charity golf tournament today, so we'll hold off on the rest until we hear from him personally. Which, knowing Richard, could be in October.
    D'Alessandro also mentions that the Nets could use a wing player and now have a logjam of bigs following the acquisition of both Yi and Brook Lopez. Which makes you wonder if the Bucks tried to include Desmond Mason's expiring deal and one of the Nets' young big men (Josh Boone, Sean Williams) in order to balance the trade out positionally. Of course, at the time the deal was made the Bucks hadn't actually drafted Alexander/Mbah a Moute and the the Nets didn't yet have Lopez.  So perhaps Rod Thorn and Hammond will be talking again soon.
  • Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal writes that draft day said a great deal about the direction the Bucks are headed in.
  • Jim Paschke might not have a reason to learn Chinese any more, but that doesn't mean he's not excited about the draft day wheeling and dealing.
  • The Salt Lake Tribune writes that Andrew Bogut could miss Beijing entirely if he doesn't sign a new contract extension with the Bucks. Bogut has been saying that he won't play until his extension is finalized, but something tells me he might revise that stance if negotiations stall. Afterall, he's still under contract for 08/09.  From a Bucks standpoint it would be nice to lock up Bogut before he has a breakout fourth season, but you can bet agent David Bauman won't be looking to give the Bucks a bargain. The earliest Bogut can officially sign an extension is July 9 when the free agent/trade moratorium ends.