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So Long, 2009-10 Season: A Kneejerk Reaction to a Dislocated Elbow

First things first, I hope Andrew Bogut makes a quick and full recovery. reports that Bogut suffered a dislocated elbow, sprained wrist, and broken hand, all on his right arm.  Get well soon, big man.

Now, on to the impact this has on all the other involved parties:

On the 2009-10 season and playoffs: I usually don't let myself make grim predictions on par with Chicken Little, but with Bogut out for the forseeable future, the Bucks' sky has fallen.  With only six games left in the season, I would be shocked if the Bucks finished any better than 2-4.  And regardless of their first round opponent, Bogut's absence all but guarantees the Bucks being on the wrong side of a first-round sweep.  Maybe Atlanta's poor performance on the road could allow the team to steal one at the Bradley Center, but remember: Dan Gadzuric and/or Primoz Brezec will be playing more than a handful of minutes at the 5.  Almost as frightening as the injury itself.

On Bogut's rehab: I've never dislocated an elbow, but I have dislocated a knee and a shoulder (twice!), so I have some idea on how painful the rehab will be.  Thankfully, Bogues is far tougher than I am, so working through the pain won't be an issue.  What will be an issue is regaining the muscle memory and finesse that allowed Andrew to shoot, score, and pass the ball with ease.  In a few months, when the swelling is completely gone, the offseason gives him an excellent opportunity to get it back, which is a good thing.

On Amar'e Stoudemire: While I may have immediately cursed the name "Stoudemire," I don't think that the contact Amar'e initiated deserved a flagrant.  That call was clearly based on the gruesome result of the foul, not the foul itself.  Bogut did the smart basketball thing by releasing the rim (therefore ensuring that contact would affect his descent to the floor, meriting a foul shot), but the smart safety thing would have been to hang onto the rim for a second until his momentum brought him swinging back towards the court.  I'll be the first to say that I think that Amar'e is immature enough to do something like this, but that's based entirely on my opinion of him before this game, not the play itself.  Just the wrong place at the wrong time for Amar'e.

On the tangible effect on the team: With Bogut out, there are several holes the team needs to fill.  First, of course, is low post offense.  We can safely assume that no one on the roster will be able to recreate Bogut's scoring punch near the basket.  On the other side of the court, Kurt Thomas is a good defender in spurts, but he can't be expected to bring 'Drew's level of defense for an extended period of time.  And let's just forget that Danny G. and Primoz will be involved at all.

Actually, let's not.  Their involvement will further highlight the need for bringing in an effective backup center in the offseason, and communicating that need to the front office means that they'll actually do something about it.  As if they didn't know already, of course.

On the intangible effect on the team: This might be the most positive point in the whole situation.  Whereas Thomas, Stackhouse, and Bell are solid veteran presences, Bogut is the leader on the court for these Bucks, so someone will have to step up and take his place.  Looking at the roster, I see more role players than anything else.  That's just how the team is built, meaning we can immediately disqualify players 3 through 15. 

So who's left?  John Salmons and Brandon Jennings.  Performance-wise, Salmons wins this contest easily, bringing consistently high effort and excellent results on both sides of the ball.  However, his contract situation makes casting him in this role problematic, since there's no guarantee he'll be here next year.  Plus, his emotional disposition all but prevents him from rising to a leadership role.  I love that Salmons operates as a silent assassin without emotion, but he's not going to fire you up.

That's where the massive silver lining comes in.  We all know that Brandon Jennings has the makings of a leader.  He's not afraid to speak up, take responsibility, stand up for teammates, and his emotions seem to fuel his game.  He's left an impression on this team since arriving on the Milwaukee scene, ever since he got the green light from Scott Skiles to start at PG.  He's someone that you will follow into battle, thinking to yourself that there's nothing you and your teammates can't overcome.  He's young, he's brash, and he shows off, but he also knows that this is Bogut's team, and he has deferred all year long.  For the rest of this season, he gets the chance to make this "his" team.  It's almost like an audition, and I have no doubt that Brandon will live up to the challenge.

* * *

So, yes, 'Drew's injury is poorly timed and scuttles our chances for the playoffs.  But it will further Jennings' development, galvanize the young players on the team together, and put the Milwaukee front office in prime position to make improvements in the offseason.  The deer will be OK, Bucks fans.  Just keep it together.

Let's just keep rooting against Chicago so we can get as good of a pick as possible.  Every little bit helps.