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Bucks preseason stats breakdown, John Henson and Luc Mbah a Moute still out, Bucks still searching for defensive consistency

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We still have five days until the Bucks open the regular season in Boston on Friday night, and Scott Skiles may need every one of them to sort through issues that lingered throughout the preseason.

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Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE | 2012 preseason stats
We'll have more this week on the winners and losers from the Bucks' preseason, but in the meantime you can take a peek at the final 2012 exhibition season stats and jump to however many (or few) conclusions you like. Some that stood out to me:

  • The Bucks were outrebounded on average 43.8 to 42.8, which converts to a 72.4% defensive rebound rate and 28.8% of their own. The latter is better than their solid mark from last season (27.7%, 12th) while the former is better than their poor performance on the defensive boards a year ago (70.9%, 25th).
  • Larry Sanders was the Bucks' best rebounder with an impressive 15.4 rebounds per 40 minutes (7.3 total rpg in 18.9 mpg). That's way above the poor 10.0 rp40 he averaged last year.
  • The Bucks averaged 8.5 blocks per game, more than twice as many as their opponents (4.0). For some perspective, the Thunder were the runaway leaders in blocks last year, averaging 8.2 bpg and finishing nearly 2.0 bpg ahead of second place Washington. The Bucks ranked 14th at 5.1 bpg. Sanders and Samuel Dalembert alone combined for 5.2 blocks per contest in the preseason despite averaging just 39 minutes combined.
  • Tobias Harris somehow shot a higher percentage on threes (5/10, 50%) than on twos (20/48, 41.7%). Something (read: common sense) tells me he'll vastly exceed the latter and come up well short on the former during the regular season, but if we're accentuating the positive then let's focus on his three point accuracy, OK?
  • No roster player shot worse than Drew Gooden's 29.7% from the field. Based on his horrid form in the games I saw, I'm kind of surprised to hear Gooden made any shots this month. Just the preseason, eh Drew?
  • Brandon Jennings shot just 39.8% overall, but his improved three point accuracy (37.5%) and nearly perfect performance from the foul line (18/19) meant that his true shooting percentage was actually higher than his 12/13 mark (52.2% vs. 51.4%). On the downside, Jennings' turnover rate was way up: 3.5 in 29.5 mpg during the preseason vs. 2.2 to in 35.3 mpg last season.

Ball Don't Lie: Bucks project to 38-44
Kelly Dwyer pretty much knocks his analysis out of the park...though I'll still hope the Bucks do a bit better than the 38 wins he projects them for. As usual, really good stuff from Dan Devine and Eric Freeman, too.

Fox Sports Wisconsin: Emphasis still on defense, Henson and Mbah a Moute still out
Plenty of good tidbits in Andrew Gruman's latest at FSW, among them: the Bucks are still waiting for their interior defense to get where it needs to be, Scott Skiles isn't rushing to sort out his starting lineup, and don't expect John Henson or Luc Mbah a Moute to figure in either of next weekend's first two regular season games. Mbah a Moute still hasn't practiced while Henson continues to rehab his sprained knee. Why do I have the feeling Luc is going to be wearing street clothes for most of the month?

JS | Bucks still in search of an identity
Speaking of defense, Charles Gardner reports that the Bucks' lack of cohesion on that end continues to vex Scott Skiles:

"We have a whole bunch of guys on our team, predominantly on the perimeter but also several of our bigs, that can put the ball on the floor and create and make plays for other people," Skiles said.

"We're making a big mistake if we don't get out in the open floor and use those skills. But the only way we do that is by getting stops and rebounding the ball.

It's interesting how often we hear people talk about the Bucks' need to improve their interior defense without reference to that last part. Shot-blocking is great, but the Bucks were already better in that department last year than in the two prior years when their overall defense was excellent. The big drop-off was on the defensive boards, which is precisely why a) acquiring Dalembert was a potentially excellent move and b) Sanders' improvement is essential.

Green Bay Press Gazette | Milwaukee Bucks Q&A: GM John Hammond (h/t RealGM)
This is mostly stuff you've either already heard or would expect to hear from John Hammond, but still a worthwhile read. The bit about Andrew Bogut is probably the most interesting.

JS | Fire or fury: Sanders searches for balance
Charles Gardner sheds some apparent light on Sanders' earlier one-game suspension.

Sanders hinted Thursday that he was disciplined due to a dispute with a teammate last week.

"I couldn't wait to get back with my team, get back with my guys and put all the other issues behind us," Sanders said. "I think we want to win, and sometimes guys get heated at each other. In the beginning, good teams always build on that.

"I think you have trouble when that happens at the end (of a season). That's when you have worry. Those issues are handled and now we're good and on top of them."

Quick hitters:

  • Bucksketball | What happens after a team grabs an offensive rebound? Ian Segovia with a cool analysis.
  • Hardwood Paroxysm | The Paroxysm crew preview the Bucks season the way only the Paroxysm crew can.