The improving Milwaukee Bucks hit the Izod Center for the last time tonight (weather permitting), so here’s Jeremy Schmidt from the TrueHoop Bucks blog, Bucksketball (say that three times fast):
NAS: You recently asked your readers their thoughts on the future direction of the Bucks. What are your personal thoughts? Do you believe the Bucks have the capacity to build towards something meaningful in the future?
Do the Bucks have the capacity to build towards something meaningful? Yes, they certainly do. Will they? That remains to be seen. Thus far, John Hammond has stuck to his plan of ridding the team of poor contracts and loading up on short-term deals while they ride out the Michael Redd and Dan Gadzuric deals. The near $30 million of expiring contracts in the summer of 2011 gives Bucks fans hope that with such wiggle room and two pieces that look solid in Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings, the Bucks can get back on track. Now if before the trade deadline Hammond swings for the fences and takes on a big contract that extends past 2011, that would be troubling. Laying out a plan for long term success is one thing, sticking with it is another. So far Hammond hasn’t done anything to lose my trust, but the NBA is a crazy place so who knows what will come next.
NAS: In your opinion, is Andrew Bogut finally evolving into an elite center?
Yes, yes, yes a hundred times yes. I’d love to stand on rooftops and let everyone know how great Bogut has been since the new year began, but my voice isn’t that strong and my market isn’t big enough for anyone to care anyway. Don’t let his good but not great full season numbers fool you, Bogut has been a terror on both ends since January 1st. What bogged down Bogut earlier this year was an abnormally low shooting percentage in December of 45 percent, but since January first he’s shot 58 percent and averaged roughly 17 and 11 while blocking more than two shots a night. Those sound like elite numbers to me. The funny thing is that Bogut’s game extends so far beyond the numbers. He takes more charges than any center in the league and controls the entire Bucks defense. On top of that his relationship with Brandon Jennings has resulted in a pick and roll combination that has an extraordinary feel for each other despite playing less than 50 games together.
NAS: For some reason, Carlos Delfino has the Nets number. Yet he seems like quite an ordinary player against the rest of the league. So what’s the deal here? Is this a fluke, or is there some level of talent there that’s not showing up consistently in the box score?
Delfino seemed to use the last Bucks-Nets game to jump start his season. He was very inconsistent for the first few months and struggled mightily with his shooting, but shortly after a strong showing against New Jersey in the start of January he went on a terror. Delfino bumped his scoring by about six points a night in January and has stayed on track in February despite not shooting as well from deep (40 percent in January, 32 in four Feb. games). Delfino has been getting extended serious minutes for the first time in his career over the past 13 games and looks to really be settling in. He has a lot of different talents and is the Bucks biggest guard/forward so the tools are there for him to be successful even if he’d never put it all together before. Will Delfino keep up his strong play for much longer? It’s tough to tell. This could be who Delfino really is and it’s possible he never showed it because consistent minutes weren’t there. It’s probably more likely that Delfino will taper off again at some point and return to his previous inconsistent form. Either way, I wouldn’t bet against him having a very strong game against the Nets.