Bulls

NBA Extensions

Midnight marked the deadline for rookies from the 2009 NBA Draft to work out an extension with their teams. The Thunder couldn’t reach an agreement with James Harden and now he’s in Houston. In less publicized news, however, several other notable players from that draft class worked out deals just before the deadline.

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors: 4 years, $40 million

DeRozan’s reputation around the NBA has largely remained constant since his days as a draft prospect. He is blessed with tremendous physical tools, can be an explosive scorer, and if he ever makes the jump to being a 22 ppg guy and do it while being more efficient, he could be the starting shooting guard on a decent team. However, none of this has happened. He remains a talented young player, but without almost any indication he will become more efficient, he is more likely to end up like an early-career Jason Richardson than the centerpiece (or even second option) on a good team. If he doesn’t make the jump this year with an outstanding point guard (Kyle Lowry) and solid supporting cast, he may not go to any level beyond that.

Judging the contract is a little hard since post-Lockout GMs/Owners seem to be just as dumb with contracts as pre-Lockout GMs/Owners. In free agency, DeRozan likely would have received this offer from someone. The Raptors re-signing him likely means that the Raptors were also unwilling to find a trade partner. Just off the top of my head, there are a few teams that would at least field serious offers about DeRozan. The Bucks would likely be interested in re-uniting their current franchise centerpiece (Brandon Jennings) with his childhood running mate. There are certainly enough pieces to make this work, but I think the bottom line is that Toronto wants to win now. They aren’t interested in re-shuffling the deck in hopes of a better mix. Frankly, I agree with them. I have little to no interest in paying DeRozan 10m per year, but they are a pretty solid team right now and they will likely make the playoffs this year.

Jrue Holiday, Phildelphia 76ers: 4 years, $41 million

Jrue is in a somewhat similar situation to DeRozan. He is still young, still has plenty of upside, but he hasn’t made much progress year-to-year. He is a fairly important part of the 76ers plans moving forward, and I suppose continuity is worth some extra money, but he just doesn’t do the things you think he’d do. He is extremely athletic but doesn’t get to the rim in the halfcourt often or get to the line (1.8 FTA/game last year). The Sixers offense liked to run a lot last year, but he still didn’t rack up assists in those minutes. Stats are not everything, but on a team that struggled offensively last year, you’d think he would take a bigger role.

Maybe the best way to view Jrue is alongside two point guards who did not get their extensions: Darren Collison and Brandon Jennings. In Indiana, Collison was a speedy, smart point guard who (until the Orlando series) was slightly subpar on defense and was just kind of underwhelming. He would have magnificent stretches where he would hit his mid-range jumper and be aggressive and make the Pacers offense unstoppable. But for much longer stretches he’d struggle with his mid-range pull-up jumper, lose his aggression and find ways to not make full use of his skill set. When the Pacers swapped him (indirectly) for D.J. Augustin, they got a player who was not as good, but who could utilize his skill set more efficiently than Collison did. I do not watch enough 76ers games to state this outright, but Jrue strikes me as another guy with a skill set he doesn’t use efficiently.

Brandon Jennings didn’t get his extension either. He is a quick, sometimes explosive, guard with a very underrated game as a creator. The defensive-reputation of the Bucks sometimes overshadows that for long stretches last season, the Bucks were an outstanding offensive team, particularly with their passing. Jennings’ inconsistent jump shot and inability to finish in the lane (probably a height and loss-of-hops problem) have been well-documented but not nearly as well as his consistency in running the offense and being a productive player. BUT, once again the issue is efficiency. Can Brandon Jennings do his job on this team? Absolutely. Could a lesser player execute the same sets and bring similar skills at a much lower price? Yes.

That’s what it comes down to for Jrue. This contract is a hope that he becomes a player who can utilize his skill set better and jump up a level in the point guard hierarchy, but if that doesn’t happen, this contract will look fairly bad in 3 years.

Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls: 4 years, $32 million guaranteed w/ 6 million in incentives extra possible (thus the reporting of 4/38m)

Gee, I wonder who has been teaching Gibson how to yell……

Taj Gibson’s deal is a complete departure from the last two guys we talked about. The Bulls frankly couldn’t afford to let Gibson go, and yet they took a very hard line with him. It is no secret that Bulls fans hate Carlos Boozer and that the Bulls have very little interest in keeping him around. Gibson is probably the better player right now even though Chicago’s likely offensive struggles this year will be slightly ameliorated by Boozer’s presence. On the open market, I would think Gibson could get a Millsap-type deal. His offensive game isn’t as refined as Millsap, but his defense is much better and the value of each is likely similar in free agency. I think Bulls fans would have been happy to extend him for 4 years, $48 million, but they got a discount, so a small round of applause for the penny-pinching Reinsdorf.

Other Things I Wanted To Comment On

All-NBA 2012 Second Round Draft Picks

PG: Tyshawn Taylor (BKN)- There weren’t a ton of PGs in the second round that will see significant minutes and I didn’t see Isaiah Thomas (SAC) on this list.

SG: Doron Lamb (MIL)- Plenty of minutes and I am betting on a Monta Ellis trade.

SF: Jae Crowder (DAL)- Hustle, muscle, decent shooting. Marquette connections had to influence on this pick.

SF (because I didn’t want to pick a PF): Darius Miller (NO)- Should see minutes on an exciting team. If I had to pick a PF, it would be Kris Joseph, but he won’t see enough time.

F/C: Kyle O’Quinn (ORL)- Someone has to play well for them, right?

The Milwaukee Bucks Secret to Success at Home

As the NBA season nears its midway point symbolized by All-Star Weekend, I felt it was about time to make a significant point towards the Milwaukee Bucks success at home this season. While many NBA experts feel they hold the secrets to Bucks success or lack thereof, I believe I may have discovered and hold the ingredient that gives them true home court advantage at the Bradley Center, me.

Before you begin laughing, hear me out; the team currently holds a 12-7 overall record at home this year. For the game’s I’ve been in town for they’re 10-4, not that big of a difference right?…WRONG! Let’s take a more in-depth look on the results to prove my point.

So far this season there’s been 19 home games; I’ve been in town to attend 14 of them. When I’m there the Bucks have won 10 games and has lost just 4 games. Of the 4 losses I’ve attended, 3 of the 4 are losses of 2 points or less (5 total points), 2 (or half) of the losses have been overtime game winning buzzer beaters courtesy of Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki and Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant. In reality, I’ve only been a part of one bad loss which came December 6th against the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Bucks went onto lose by 15 in a game that was never close.

Also take note of the four losses I’ve seen starting with a 4 game home winning streak snapped by the Mavericks in overtime, then a loss to the Orlando Magic by 2, followed by a poor outing against the Cavaliers, then a loss to the Lakers in overtime.

Look at the teams just mentioned, the Magic and Cavaliers squared off in the Eastern Conference Finals last year with the Magic representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The Mavericks are currently the second best team in the Western Conference and of course the Los Angeles Lakers are the defending NBA Champions, as well as the best team in basketball as we speak.

While those team names speak for themselves, let’s overview the other 10 teams the Bucks have faced when I’m there.  The Bucks hold wins against the Pistons, Knicks, Nuggets, Warriors, Nets (of course), Bobcats, Bulls, Raptors (twice), and the Trailblazers. 9 of the 13 teams faced are currently in line to make the playoffs yet to be fair it’s worth also stating that the 4 non-playoff teams faced are horrendous (Knicks, Nets, Warriors, & (I never thought I’d say this…) Pistons. In all if we currently added together these 13 team records (played Raptors twice) up they’re sitting at an overall record of 281-260 which well beyond .500 and that’s including New Jersey’s 3 wins & 38 losses!

Now moving onto the 5 Bucks home games I’ve missed, the Bucks went 2-3, losing 2 of the 3 by at least 12 points. They only won 2 games and one of them came in double overtime against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Teams faced include the Kings, Wizards, Spurs, Thunder, and Bulls. Currently 3 of those 5 teams would make the playoffs but overall strength of those teams aren’t nearly as close to the 13 teams I’ve seen them face. Compared to the combined 281-260 combined record of the teams I’ve seen, the teams I missed have a combined record of 96-109, which is well below the .500 mark.

Overall team efficiency on both ends of the floor is drastically different as well. When I’m there the Bucks average 104.9 ppg and limit their opponents to just under the 100 ppg with 99.6 which makes for a +5.3 differential favoring the Bucks. Games when I’m gone the Bucks only manage to put up an average of 97.6 ppg and allow their opponents to average 101.4 ppg, which is a bad -3.8 differential favoring the opponent. This means the Bucks score on average +7.3 ppg when I’m there while also limiting opponents to -1.8 ppg. Tell me that’s not a huge difference!

On a final note, it’s not just the Bucks as a team that plays better; I also am the lucky charm to Yung Buck himself.  Bucks rookie guard Brandon Jennings currently is averaging 18 ppg on the year, but when I’m there he averages 23.2 ppg. Now get this, when I’m NOT there Jennings averages a ugly 10 ppg and I’ve never seen Jennings score less than double-digits, something he’s done a few times this season. I stress an ugly 10 ppg for Jennings because of the amount of shots he attempts each game.

Could this just be shear coincidence, yes, it very well could be but it’s definitely drastic change in events each game I show up. Going into tonight’s home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves the Bucks are 10-4 with me there, not to mention they’re 4-0 when I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the games on a media pass. If you’re wondering about tonight’s game, well let’s just say I’ve already seen the Timberwolves this year during preseason and yes the Bucks won that game too and of course I’ll show up tonight

My Second Home When In Milwaukee

. Until the season reaches spring break the Milwaukee Bucks shouldn’t have a difficult time winning at home. The Bradley Center may contain Andrew Bogut’s rowdy fan club “Squad 6” that plays an effect on the final outcome but I argue I very well could be the Bucks’ best kept secret.