From the JS comes news that Michael Redd is hoping to be back in uniform for Friday night's matchup with the Bobcats. Redd has out with a strained left patella tendon since suffering the injury October 31 in the Bucks' home opener, and will have a fitness test on Thursday.
"I was just running up and down, just making sure I can cut and run and sprint a little bit. I'm going to try to give it a go Thursday in practice. They're throwing me to the wolves Thursday."
As you may recall, we discussed the somewhat delicate issue of Redd's impact on the team's style last week. Since then the Bucks have had high-scoring contests against the Warriors and Mavs, but I'm still not going to go so far as to suggest the Bucks can't use Redd's scoring ability. It may be harder to get Andrew Bogut all the touches he deserves, but as of now Jennings is the only perimeter player who's a threat to opposing defenses, and over the long haul it still seems like the Bucks will need Redd contributing in some capacity if they want to be serious about making the playoffs. Considering Redd is next to impossible to trade right now, the only question is then how, not whether, Scott Skiles uses him when he's healthy.
Much of that comes down to the glaring limitations of the Bucks' other SG options. Charlie Bell's defensive intensity is admirable and he's hitting 43% from deep, but his overall efficiency is middling at best (.520 TS%) and he doesn't give you any volume scoring either. It's been a similar story for Carlos Delfino, except he's not even making a respectable percentage from deep (.341/.304) and has yet to break double figures despite starting six games at small forward. Meanwhile, Jodie Meeks has looked solid in most aspects of the game except for his jump shot, which is rather ironic considering that's supposed to be his meal ticket. I can only assume the shooting will come around--we saw how lights out he can be against the Knicks--but for now he's not quite there. Luke Ridnour has also seen extensive action at the two lately and done about as well as you could expect, but that's not setting the bar that high. Long-term he's a backup PG, end of story.
As Jeremy pointed out yesterday, none of those guys can draw fouls either, which is one of those critical parts of the game that often gets overlooked. It's a different story with Redd, who for all his reputation as a shooter is really more of a scorer at this point than anything else (making wide open threes seems to have become a particular weakness).
Gardner also reported today that Delfino's poor play might be due to a lingering stomach illness that caused him to miss the Golden State contest. He was due to see a specialist on Tuesday, so hopefully he can get healthy and contribute more consistently, because thus far he's been a big disappointment. Fortunately Luc Mbah a Moute has been playing his best ball of the season lately, so there won't be any dropoff if Delfino is sidelined for some period. Redd can also slide over to the three spot for stretches if the Bucks want to go small with Bell, Meeks or Ridnour at guard.
The other open question in the lineup is the PF spot, where Ersan Ilyasova has been soundly outperforming Hakim Warrick over the last four games. The Turk held his own against Dirk and co., working hard on defense in addition to scoring a season-high 19 on 13 shots to go with 12 boards. Ilyasova's season numbers are still modest, but he's scoring efficiently (.559 TS%), easily leading the team in rebound rate (18.8%), and a clearly better defender to boot. In contrast, Warrick has only averaged 18 mpg and hasn't broken double-digits in the last four games, while often struggling defensively and on the boards. I mentioned last week that it probably made sense to put Warrick back into a sixth man role if Redd was again starting, but now Ilyasova's earned the starting spot on his own merits. Via Gardner:
"Ersan certainly deserves all the playing time he is getting," Skiles said after the team's practice Tuesday. "He's playing very good defense.
"He's shooting the ball when he's open, knocking down shots. He's rebounding."
Asked if he was contemplating a change in the lineup for Wednesday's home game against New Jersey, Skiles said, "We might."
I've been kind of expecting this to happen ever since Ilyasova was signed this summer, if only because his defensive abilities make him a more versatile matchup against most starting PFs. He might not be a prototype long-term guy for the position, but he certainly has the skillset to be an excellent complementary player who can start if needed. That's especially true if Mbah a Moute slides into the starting SF spot, since Ilyasova's perimeter shooting ability compensates for Mbah a Moute's deficiencies in that regard.