Friday, March 7, 2014

Bucks Bring Up Tony Mitchell From Fort Wayne | Caron Butler's Spot On The Bench Didn't Get Cold

Bucks Tony Mitchell
The Milwaukee Bucks proved that their buy-out of veteran Caron Butler's contract wasn't without prior planning. The team has already filled his vacant position with a prospect from the development league. This came just days after the forward's departure for Oklahoma City. 24-year-oldTony Mitchell was called up for a 10 day deal from the team's affiliate in Fort Wayne on Monday, marking his first trip to the NBA since graduating from Alabama in 2012. Mitchell has proven himself to be one of the most potent scoring threats in the D-League, averaging nearly 20 points and six rebounds this season. In his inaugural year in 2013, he managed 22 points per game in 45 starts. The six-foot-six small forward most recently won his second consecutive D-League dunk contest.

Mitchell's talent on offense was well recognized early in his collegiate career. By his junior season, the Alabama native was the Crimson Tide's second leading scorer and was already generating speculation as a potential first round pick. In February of that year, however, head coach Anthony Grant announced he was suspending Mitchell for the remainder of the season. Cited for conduct detrimental to the team, Mitchell failed to recover following his return for his senior season, averaging fewer starts, minutes, and points.

Reviews of the Bucks decision to elevate Mitchell in the wake of Butler's dismissal have been generally positive. His numbers with the Mad Ants have been reminiscent of his better college days, and a clean bill of health throughout his time in Fort Wayne is a refreshing change from the seemingly-forever afflicted Epke Udoh. The timing was also nearly perfect, said some, as it is likely that Charlotte, Detroit, Indiana, Minnesota, and Orlando were also taking notice of Mitchell's accession. Those five share Milwaukee's affiliation with the Mad Ants.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Milwuakee Bucks Y2K Night | Glen Robinson To Attend The Game

Continuing a tradition that has become a favorite among NBA fans, the Milwaukee Bucks will celebrate Y2K Night on Saturday when conference leader Indiana visits the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Playing their part in one of the league's most popular promotions, which has already seen San Antonio host 70's night and the Timberwolves host 80's night, the Bucks will feature throwback jerseys and ticket prices starting at just $7, the admission price at the turn of the century. Cheerleaders will don uniforms from that era, and even a special guest appearance by former Buck and All-Star Glen Robinson is planned. Classic hip-hop act Coolio will provide halftime entertainment for the game.

Long-time fans of the Bucks will remember Robinson from his tenure with the team from 1994 to 2002. He was the first overall pick by Milwaukee in the 1994 draft after capping an impressive career at Purdue by winning the Naismith College Player of the Year Award his senior year. The Bucks presented Robinson with an unprecedented 10-year $68 million contract at his first signing. The team certainly got what they paid for, as the Indiana native made an immediate impact with the struggling franchise, earning a spot on the NBA All Rookie-Team in 1995. By 2001, Robinson was a two-time All-Star and had helped lead the Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals that year.

Following their loss to Philadelphia in the conference finals, the Bucks traded Robinson to Atlanta for three players and a first-round draft pick. The six-year veteran left the organization as the team's second-best-all-time scorer, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In his final season in the NBA in 2005, now with the Spurs, Robinson finally managed a league championship.

In addition to his appearance at half-time, Robinson will also sign autographs on the concourse prior to the game. VIP ticket holders will be the first allowed in for the session, at 6PM. A special suite ticket package is also being offered for the game, featuring a personal appearance by Robinson to your suite.

Y2K night is the second era-night that the Bucks have hosted at the Bradley Center in as many years. Last March, the team welcomed rapper Vanilla Ice to Milwaukee for 90's Night. Promotions from that night included a one-of-a-kind art piece that was raffled-off, and retro posters. All fans in attendance at Saturday's game will receive a pennant.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Antetokounmpo At The Skills Challenge During All Star Week

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Bucks rookie standout Giannis Antetokounmpo added yet another event to his NBA All Star weekend itinerary. At just nineteen, the youngest player in the league, the native of Greece has earned an invitation to the 11th annual Skills Challenge during the mid-season break in New Orleans. Just six first-year players have taken part in the showcase, including former Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, and many have gone on to win rookie of the year.

Antetokounmpo's prospects of garnering that prestigious honor are bleak, especially as a member of the worst team in the NBA. The chance to play in the Skills Challenge, however, as a rookie, is something not to be squandered. Derrik Rose, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade are just a few of the past competitors, as is Damian Lillard, who became the first freshman to win the challenge last year. Antetokounmpo's performance at the 2014 Skills Challenge could be a major boost to his future projections.

The Skills Challenge is a timed head-to-head competition that pits players against each other in various dribbling, shooting, and passing drills. Antetokounmpo has excelled in those areas as part of the Bucks roster, posting over 80 assists and 320 points in 45 games. His opponents in this year's February 15h event are Lillard, who will attempt to defend his title, DeMar DeRozan, Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Goran Dragic, and Reggie Jackson.

Antetokounmpo will also attend the Rising Stars Challenge at the 2014 All Star weekend. The freshman versus sophomore game is one of the highlights of the games, and features the best in both classes. The Rising Stars Challenge takes place on February 14.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bucks Win On New Year's Eve Just A Glimmer Of Hope

Bucks 2013
A win for the Milwaukee Bucks on New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles ended 2013 on a high-note. Brandon Knight scored a career-high 37 points against the lowly Lakers, and recently healed power forward Ersan Ilyasova continues to improve. Center Larry Sanders even posted solid numbers during the night, and played his longest game of the season since breaking his thumb in a Milwaukee bar-fight.

The victory is purely consolatory, however. Milwaukee remains in last place in the Eastern conference, trailing the Knicks by 2.5 games and first place Indiana by a whopping 18 games. The team has the worst record in all of the NBA, and manages the least points while allowing over 100 points on average. A successful season appears to be based in the hopes that certain players standout as a possible foundation of starters to bring into 2014, complimented by smart draft picks. The relatively generous playoff format of the league could play some magic with the team, however, as the 8th seeded Celtics are just four games ahead of Milwaukee, and no other team in the bottom half has won more than 12 games.

All fantasy aside, head coach Larry Drew and his team faces a daunting uphill climb to become a relevant contender in 2014. Home games at the BMO Harris Bradley Center are hemorrhaging fans at a rate that has caused the franchise to offer heavily discounted tickets for the remaining home schedule. Only two teams have worse attendance then the Bucks, and many of the fans who have not fled are calling for a purposeful dive this season in hopes of garnering the top draft pick. 

Bucks Injuries Pile Up 

Along with the win in California, 2014 also brings news that the Bucks injury woes have followed them into the New Year. Only two of the expected five starters from camp at the beginning of the season were able to play in the team's season opener in October. Sanders and Ilyasova only just returned, though, in the meantime, forward Carlos Delfino and center Zaza Pachulia were sidelined. Delfino is likely out for the season after surgery resulted in a plate and screws inserted into his injured foot. Pachulia could be gone for as much as a month with a similar foot injury, though his will not require surgery. Second-year player John Henson, who took over Ilyasova's duties at power forward for much of 2013, is the latest victim. Henson will miss the first three games of the New Year with a high ankle sprain, leaving Drew with no experienced reserves behind Ilyasova.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bucks Can't Keep Up With Pacers | Injuries Mounting In Milwaukee

Bucks OJ Mayo
The Bucks pounding at the hands of the Indiana Pacers on Friday was just the latest example of the Milwaukee team's early season woes. Pacers center Roy Hibbert dominated an injury-laden Bucks defense that included the 7-foot tall Miroslav Raduljica, who was playing in his third game with the team. The Serbian rookie was one of three defenders matched-up with Hibbert by head coach Larry Drew during the night, as Epke Udoh and Zaza Pachulia also did their part to try and stop the momentum. It was a failed effort, however, as Hibbert managed a season-high 24-points and eight blocks.

Just eight games into 2013, the Bucks are at the bottom of the central division standings. Wins against Boston and Cleveland are the team's only successes on the season, and, this week, the team lost four straight to the likes of Dallas, Miami, Orlando, and Indiana.

As was the case against the Pacers, a lacking defense has wreaked havoc for the Bucks on both sides of the court. Nearly last in the league in defensive rebounds and allowing 100 points per night, the Bucks are scoring just ninety points on average and rank 24th in assists.

Too Many Injured Bucks Players In 2013

Playing a heavy hand in the Bucks early-season struggles are injuries to nearly every player that was expected to be the team's primary starting line. Brandon Knight, OJ Mayo, Caron Butler, Larry Sanders, and Ersan Ilyasova came out of camp as the premier group for the Bucks. As of Friday, the five have played just seconds together in the regular season, Ilyasova the first to be sidelined in an exhibition game in October. Since then, Sanders has torn a thumb ligament in a bar fight – out for six weeks; Knight injured his hamstring just minutes into the team's season opener in New York – timetable undetermined; and Butler has a sprained shoulder – out a couple of games. Even top reserves such as Gary Neal and Carlos Delfino are out due to injury.

Drew is maintaining a coach-like optimism about the future of the season. Redrawing the starting-line for every game in 2013 has been a struggle the coach admitted to reporters following Friday's loss, though he feels the Bucks are headed in the right direction. Fans and critics may disagree. The starting-line against Indiana put-up the worst averages of any this season, hitting just 19 of 58.   

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bucks Struggle In 2013 Preseason Games | Larry Drew Provides Answers

Bucks 2013 Preseason
While far from indicative of their expected performance during the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks have looked dismal in the 2013 preseason. Win-less thus far, the revamped team face a one-win Grizzlies squad tonight, hoping to avoid their fourth loss of the seven game schedule. The outing is a must-win if new head coach Larry Drew hopes to go into the regular season with respect from skeptical fans and analysts.

Drew has faced adverse conditions during his debut games on the sidelines for the Bucks. As of Tuesday, five key starters are on the injured list, including forward Ersan Ilyasova. The head coach explained at a recent press-conference that while he is excited that some of the younger bench players have seen extra time against tough competition, the abundance of injured starters is not conducive to the team-building he had in mind for the preseason. Just four of the Bucks 19 roster-players were with the team last season.

Second-year player John Henson has stepped into Ilyasova's role through the the first three preseason games, complimenting team poster-boy Larry Sanders at forward. Suffering from the loss of the dynamic Epke Udoh, the duo bared most of the team's offensive responsibility against Cleveland, Minnesota, and Charlotte, though they failed to score more than 90 in any of those contests.

Drew said Tuesday that he would remain with Henson and Sanders as his starters against Memphis, though first round draft pick Giannis Antetokounmpo will step-in an increasing amount, along with fellow reserves Stephen Graham and Olek Czyz. He made clear that he is not happy about the delay to his injured starter's seasons, however, who he said need to find time to play together before the start of the regular season.

At the same press-conference, the head coach called upon his relatively intact back-court to get the job done against the Grizzlies. Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo have replaced Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis as the core of the Bucks perimeter offense, though their performance has been lackluster thus-far. Joined by 12 year veteran Caron Butler, Drew has been waiting for the trio to click on the transition, the Bucks premier strength in 2012.

Milwaukee Bucks Key Preseason Injuries

-        (C) Ersan Ilyasova – Knee
-        (G) Gary Neal – Foot
-        (F) Carlos Delfino – Foot
-        (F) Epke Udoh – Knee
-        (C) Zaza Pachulia – Achilles