Bucks.com: Jennings and Bucks doing their part
Merry Christmas everyone! The Bucks are doing their part to spread the holiday cheer, with (among other things) their annual visit to Children's Hospital and Brandon Jennings delivering toys to kids at the Boys & Girls club. Great to see.
WSSP: Bogut on Rome, Woelfel on PG depth
There's always good stuff to find over at WSSP's audio page, including Bogut's spot on the Jim Rome show (where he talks about migraines and Twitter) and Gery Woelfel's spot after the Portland game. Among other things, Woelfel mentions that there's no talk about Delfino returning soon, though there's also been no suggestion from specialists that his career is in jeopardy. Delfino sounded in good spirits on Twitter a week ago, but there's still no indication of when he might be back.
@ Chicago...still working on my rehab...trying to stay + & get better...There is light at the end of the tunnel...FAR but I can see it ! ;)
Woelfel also drops a rumor about the Bucks looking for PG help even before the Jennings injury, with Luc Mbah a Moute being mentioned as possible trade bait. To be clear, I don't think Luc is ever going to be the kind of guy you pencil in every night as a starter--he's that bad offensively--but so what? Since joining the Bucks in 2008, he and Bogut have been the driving forces of the Bucks' defensive revolution, and as a restricted free agent he should be relatively affordable to retain. He certainly shouldn't be considered untouchable, but you'd really hope they'd get more than just a slightly better backup PG in exchange.
Still, Jennings' injury obviously increases the depth issues they've had in the backcourt, and it's anybody's guess whether the improved play of Earl Boykins and (to a lesser extent) Keyon Dooling is enough to convince the Bucks to stand pat for now. On the one hand that combination has looked surprisingly serviceable over the past couple games, but Jennings is going to be missing for a while and it would seem Boykins in particular will have to come back down to earth somewhat.
JS: Bucks close the deal with defense
Andrew Bogut's block on DeMarcus Cousins (above) might be my favorite of the season because it had everything you could want in a great block: Cousins tried to tear the rim off, Bogut rejected it with an equal measure of violence, and it happened in an absolutely crucial moment of the game. If you watch it a couple times, you see Bogut has to come from near the baseline under the hoop to get there in time, and he does it with his left to boot. Despite all that, the folks at NBA.com didn't even think it was Bogut's best rejection of the game--they awarded his swat on Omri Casspi (above) their "Block of the Night" nomination. Whatever--as long as Bogut got the nod. After the game, the big fella discussed the play in greater detail:
"I knew he was trying to dunk on me," Bogut said. "I don’t think he saw me because I was kind out of the picture, around the corner. I just made a play on him and got the ball, thankfully.
But that didn’t end the play when the ball bounced back into Cousins’ hands and he went up again. "He was trying to establish position and he’s a rough and tough guy," Bogut said. "I just held my ground and he happened to hit me pretty hard. I went down.
For comparison, below is the Casspi block, and what's impressive is how late Bogut gets up for it--Casspi already has the ball cocked behind his head with two hands when Bogut takes off.
Woelfel: Bucks share holiday memories
In the spirit of the season, Woelfel spoke to a number of Bucks about their holiday plans--nice little read. Among other things, I was amused to learn Luc still believe in Santa Claus when he was 11, and I'm also more confused than ever about Ersan Ilyasova's origins.
Ilyasova will have a bigger celebration Dec. 31 when he hosts a party for most of his family, including his parents - mother, Iraliya, and father, Shamsedin - who are flying to Milwaukee from the Ukraine. His sister, Shamide, who is a student at UW-Milwaukee, will also join them.
"All of our families will come together at my house," Ilyasova said. "We will have a family dinner and celebrate a new year.
"The bad thing about it is, we have a game (Jan. 1 against Dallas in Milwaukee), so we can't stay up too late."
We've all heard the rumors of Ilyasova immigrating from Uzbekistan and having his age doctored, but I'd honestly never heard of a connection to Ukraine. He's always been listed officially as being born in Eskesehir, Turkey, but I suppose his family could originally be from Ukraine or something. Wait, why am I worrying about this?
The Point Forward: LeBron get facts wrong in contraction talk
Zach Lowe and his Point Forward blog at SI have become a daily must-read, and he's got a great summation of everything that's wrong with the LeBron James contraction blather.
The dreamscape of 1980s All-Star teams LeBron and others conjure up when talking about contraction was basically limited to Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, with the Pistons dabbling at the fringes of this territory later in the 1980s. Beyond that, there were good teams who would send one or two players to the All-Star game and a bunch of so-so and bad teams.
You know what this sounds like? The state of the NBA right now.
Brew Hoop favorite Matt Moore also has a nice reality check on LeBron's latest worldview, so the good news is that no one seems to be taking his latest comments too seriously. It's no secret that the Bucks' market size and tenuous building situation will always put them in conversations about teams moving, contraction, etc, so I'm always a bit sensitive about these kinds of things. It's not to say I have any real short-term concerns, especially given the more worrying developments for fans in New Orleans and (to a lesser extent) Sacramento and Detroit. But it's still nice to see more informed people offer some actual context for LeBron's misguided nostalgia.
And overall, the numbers just don't add up. Remember, the NBA already had 23 teams in 1980, so it's not like we're talking about the days of Original Six hockey or something. If anything, I'd argue that the increase from 23 to 30 teams has been a proportionally smaller jump than the increase in global talent. Consider that foreign-trained players now account for 14% of the NBA's 436 players, and that doesn't even include international players like Bogut who attended school in the US.
Aside from that, it's difficult to imagine that the pool of NBA-worthy players from the US hasn't risen dramatically as well. The US population has grown from 226 million to 309 million over the past 30 years, just about perfectly mirroring the increase in NBA teams, and the growing popularity of the game has resulted in more players playing more basketball at a younger age. You could argue that the AAU circuit and national media's strange preoccupation with finding the next great 12-year-old aren't paricularly helpful in churning out well-adjusted players, but it has done nothing but help the total volume of talent being produced.