Well, that's it guys. No more Bucks (or in this case, quasi-Bucks) basketball until...uh, geez, October?
A day after seeing their summer league championship dreams crushed by the Lakers, the Bucks closed out their Vegas slate on Friday evening with a ho-hum 90-80 loss against the Spurs. A heartbreaker, I know.
Most of the game's intrigue was extinguished by the opening tip, which saw John Henson sitting on the bench joking with Larry Sanders, while the Spurs returned the favor by resting Cory Joseph, Aron Baynes and Nando De Colo. Gustavo Ayon was held out for good measure, while the starting backcourt of Ish Smith and Dominique Jones played just 10 minutes apiece. So even by the low standards of Vegas, this game was about as JV as you'll find.
Thankfully, Bucks second rounder Nate Wolters gave us at least some reason to care, delivering his best statistical performance of the week with 20 points (8/13 fg, 1/3 threes, 3/5 ft), five boards and three assists in 27 minutes. And if you don't mind, that's all I'm going to talk about in this recap because that's the only thing that might be vaguely relevant to the 13/14 Milwaukee Bucks.
First, there's the bad: Wolters hasn't been able to shoot all week. Coming into today's game, he'd missed all seven of his threes and connected on just 32% of his shots overall. Which is weird, because his strong collegiate shooting record would seem like one of his most translatable skills. But, you know what they say about small sample sizes. Today things started to come together more, as he was getting just enough of a step on his man to set himself up for make-able shots in the lane: floaters, challenged glassers, stuff like that. He's not blowing by guys, but no one ever really expected that either. With the Spurs comfortably ahead in the fourth, Wolters went on a quick run featuring a pair of nice drives and punctuated by an open three, his first sort-of-NBA three (hey, he avoided the Doron Lamb curse!).
The nice thing is that even when he's not scoring, it's obvious Wolters has a nice understanding of angles, spacing and all that good point guard-y stuff. He seems to have a good feel for how to draw help defenders and generally force teams to not only react to him in P&R, but then make simple plays to keep the offense flowing. Everyone wants a chessmaster, but being good at checkers is worth something, too.
Coming from a small school where he was asked to carry the scoring load, Wolters was clearly looking to work more on his facilitating game this week and he generally looks capable of running an offense. He had a few nervous moments when the Spurs' guards really tried to pressure him, which highlighted his lack of quickness. That also figures to be a question mark on defense, and Wolters did get crossed up a couple times today. But he didn't embarrass himself either (how's that for faint praise).
Either way, regular season rotation minutes aren't won in Vegas, so the good and bad of Wolters' week isn't much more than isolated data points on what will hopefully be a long NBA journey. Assuming the Bucks add a starting-caliber point guard at some point before October (Brandon Jennings? Or anyone but Brandon Jennings?), minutes at the pointwould seem hard to come by for Wolters with Luke Ridnour and Ish Smith also in the mix. Smith and Wolters are pretty much polar opposites, so I'll be curious to see whether one can establish himself ahead of the other, though Wolters also brings the added benefit of size that might better allow him to check shooting guards. There's certainly no logjam at that position for now (hi O.J. Mayo!), though basic logic would dictate that at least one more swingman gets added to the roster this summer.