Friday’s game in Toronto will mark the halfway point of the season. With the Bucks at 17-23, things could be worse, but it’s also easy to think that the team would be closer to .500, if not above, if guys like Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut would have been healthy all season.
I’ve already taken a look at the point guards and shooting guards in my midseason updates. For part three, here’s an update on how the Bucks’ small forwards are doing.
I mentioned how Joe’s hamstring issue that has held him out of every game this season didn’t look good, and that his time with the organization was running out. The team declined his rookie option for next season, making Alexander an unrestricted free agent after this season.
To add insult to injury, Milwaukee sent him to the NBA’s Developmental League on Wednesday to get some live, on-the-court action. He may have spent his last days with the Bucks. If so, it’ll mark an epic failure by GM John Hammond, his only real gaff since taking over the General Manager reigns awhile back. Alexander was drafted eighth overall in 2008 but injuries and ineffectiveness will end his Bucks career too early.
For now, Joe will play with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League. I wouldn’t expect him to be an option again for the Bucks this season unless a series of serious injuries strike the team.
Ilyasova has been the definition of a roller coaster this season. He’s had his highs (13.6ppg and 7.7rpg from November 11-30, 17.2ppg and 7.8rpg from December 8-19) and his lows (made 0-1 field goal in five of 10 January games thus far, averaging just over 20 minutes per game in January).
Carlos Delfino’s hot streak over the past week or so has relegated Ilyasova to bench duties after starting for most of the season. He is still averaging just under 11 points and 7 rebounds per game in his age-22 season and his upside is still relatively high. It’s pretty clear that he is a big part of this team’s future. I fully expect him to have a nice second half of the season
Luc Mbah a Moute
Mbah a Moute has started 20 games this season but is only averaging 6.5 points and just under 5 rebounds per game. Sounds pretty sub-par, doesn’t it?
Well, in a way it is, but in another way, not at all. Mbah a Moute is a defensive wiz, often guarding the opposing team’s best scorer. He rarely fills up the stat sheet, but he’s not there for that – it’s his job to make sure the opposing team’s best player doesn’t fill it up, and he does a damn good job of it.
ESPN blog Bucksketball has a good analysis of how standard metrics of rating a player like Mbah a Moute aren’t quite where they need to be. As of January 7th, Mbah a Moute’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) was a mere 9.23, 5.77 points below league average.
“I don’t blame PER for its inability to accurately measure Mbah a Moute,” says Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball. “Nearly everything he does is impossible to gauge from a statistics point of view. How easy to measure is amplified intensity on the defensive end?”
Like many sports, it is extremely difficult to analyze a player’s impact and worth defensively, and with basketball it is no different. Mbah a Moute is a lockdown defender in the Bruce Bowen model teams would love to have.
With all that said, Luc is starting to come around on the offensive end of the court in January. He’s had perhaps his best two games of the season this month, a 13 point, 9 rebound, 2 block, 1 steal night against Golden State on the 15th and a 15 point, 8 rebound, 1 steal game against Houston on the 18th.
Luc will continue to see sporadic minutes based on matchups, but his defensive prowess and undeniable value to this team will be as consistent as it gets.
Recent addition Jerry Stackhouse played in his first game as a Buck on Wednesday night against Toronto. The 14-year NBA vet played 17 minutes, scoring 3 points and added 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Stackhouse wasn’t signed to sit on the bench, so he could get a solid amount of minutes if his body will allow it. Coach Scott Skiles expects Jerry to contribute for the rest of the season.
I gave the position a C- grade in the preseason, based on the fact there’s a lot of positives and negatives about the group.
I’m going to give them a C midway through the season. Ilyasova has been a touch better than I expected, and Mbah a Moute has emerged as one of the league’s top defenders. Sadly, Alexander was a complete nonfactor for the Bucks this season and I hope he gets a chance to play somewhere else next season.
The addition of Stackhouse could bring a strong veteran presence to the position. Stack has always been a guy who can score and get to the rim. Adding him to the equation will only increase the productivity the Bucks get from the small forward position.
Check back near the end of the season for my position-by-position season wrap up articles.
Next up – the power forwards midseason update.
(Headshots courtesy of ESPN)
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