It meant nothing...but it's still something.
That might be the best summary of Saturday's annual intrasquad scrimmage at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which saw Jason Kidd's Bucks make their first public appearance in front of a nice crowd that came for basketball and stayed for the team's second annual "Fan Fest" afterwards. And while the actual basketball was short--just three "quarters" of running 10 minutes each--it was nice to get a glimpse of what to expect next Wednesday when the team opens the preseason in Green Bay against the Grizzlies.
Playing for the "losing" black team, Jabari Parker shook off some early rust (and wayward jump-shooting) to finish with a game-high 10 points, though teammate Brandon Knight was arguably the most impressive guy on the court with seven points and a game-high seven assists. For the white team, Giannis Antetokounmpo saw the ball plenty but didn't appear too interested in shooting, instead making plays for teammates before almost begrudgingly burying a wing triple midway through the game. More news and notes (with help from Twitter):
Starting fives. I wouldn't read much into these, but in case you're wondering:
To recap the starters: Knight/Dudley/Jabari/Ersan/Larry vs. Marshall/Mayo/Giannis/Henson/Zaza.— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) October 4, 2014
Giannis and Jabari started opposite one another at the three spots, though Parker also shifted to the four at various points in the game. We also saw both teams roll with two point guards at various points, with Wolters coming off the bench for Knight's black team and Bayless as sixth man for Kendall Marshall's white team. Not that the two PG lineups should be a surprise--with Mayo as the only "true" shooting guard on the roster, we're likely to see plenty of that this season no matter who starts.
Chris Wright was nowhere to be seen, though it's not clear if his absence might have been related to rumors of a possible offer from Greek club Panathinaikos. With 14 guaranteed contracts plus Kendall Marshall's NG'ed deal on the roster, Wright is virtually assured to be waived before the season if he doesn't find a gig elsewhere. Fingers crossed that Chris finds a lucrative deal before then.
Parker finds his comfort zone. Like in Vegas, Parker began to find his rhythm when he attacked the rim. Granted, things didn't start quite as he would have hoped...
Jabari grabs the board, goes the length of the court, takes a screen...and airballs his three. #PRACTICE— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) October 4, 2014
...but after another mid-range miss, he got on the board with a lefty layup and an alley-oop slam from Knight. That theme continued with three more buckets for the black team, and in general he seemed to get more comfortable as the game went on.
"At the beginning of training camp I was a little lost," Parker said. "But I think everything came full circle for me today.
"It's been real special for me, being thrown in the fire so early. I just love it that I'm being able to be around some good guys, real veterans. The experience is helping me go fast. I'm able to catch on a little better because I have good teammates."
Point guards. After bristling at media day suggestions that he might not be the Bucks' long-term answer at point guard, Brandon Knight looked like he had a point to prove on Saturday. And while nothing really gets proven in October, Knight did pretty much everything you would have wanted him to do on Saturday--driving and kicking to Jared Dudley and Khris Middleton for open jumpers, getting other guys involved in transition, and picking his spots as a scorer with a couple nice drives to the basket. He even looked genuinely ticked when a bullet pass that might have led to another layup was a bit behind Dudley.
Does it mean anything? Not really. But is it a hint at Knight being extra motivated to prove his skeptics wrong? Quite possibly, and that might be the best possible thing for everyone.
As for Kendall Marshall, his Bucks debut wasn't particularly memorable one way or the other. Starting alongside Giannis, it was interesting to see him float off the ball to the corner for spot-up threes on a pair of occasions, something that we never really saw him do in L.A. last year--just seven of his 178 threes last season were corner attempts. It's not a normal place to find your point guard (just 10% of Knight's three attempts came from the corner as well), but with other playmakers on the court it's an interesting look for a guy who hit 40% of his threes a year ago.
LAR-RY, LAR-RY. Fans had the chance to ask players questions during stoppages in play, and when it was Larry Sanders' turn we had a bit of a throwback moment. After being asked about his hopes for the coming season, Sanders paused and asked the crowd how they were doing. Another pause, and then something we didn't hear enough of last season: Chants of LAR-RY, LAR-RY. Welcome back?
O.J. Mayo: ALIVE. The Bucks' beleaguered shooting guard started and led the white team in scoring with 8 points, including a first quarter buzzer beater. Does he look fitter? I guess, sure. Is he going to be a key piece of the Bucks' going forward? I'd still assume not.
Fan Fest. The Bucks once again made the rest of the day about the fans--autographs with players, shooting on the BC court, a Q&A with Kidd and John Hammond, Hoop Troop, the Bucks Dancers, etc. The Bucks' full court press for Milwaukee's affection continues, and days like today will certainly help.
Wut. You can buy these here. pic.twitter.com/7s6gtRoLyY— Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) October 4, 2014
John Hammond and Jason Kidd answering questions in front of a big crowd pic.twitter.com/QnksNuXDtY— Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) October 4, 2014