Saturday, February 23, 2013

So Who the Buck Are These Milwaukee Guys?

So K. L. Chouinard of Behind The Buck Pass and I agreed to swap basketball analyzing services. I gave my input on what the Bucks should expect from JJ Redick, Gustavo Ayon, and Ish Smith. Now here’s his input on new Magic acquisitions Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris, and Doron Lamb. Keep in mind, Lamb and Harris could be in Orlando for a lengthy period of time. Meanwhile, Beno is an expiring contract. The odds of Orlando re-signing the Slovenian in the summer are slim to none. Here's Mr. Chouinard below:

Beno Udrih is a serviceable player, but to the Magic, he may just be nothing more than a player whose $7 million per season contract expires at the end of the season. In any case, he can do a few things well as a backup guard. This season, in particular, he has fared better with the ball in his hands than out of it. Beno has mastered the art of the PUJIT – the pull-up jumper in transition. On the season, Udrih has made 23 of his 38 shots in transition despite favoring jump shots in those situations.

You wouldn’t want him teaching that to younger players, but against all odds and better judgment, it works for him. He has also been strong as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. Unlike Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, when Udrih darts down the lane, he will usually toss in a spin move to create just enough space to allow himself time to square up and get a disciplined shot. The result? Udrih converted 59.3% of his shots in the paint this season – a much higher percentage than Ellis or Jennings. Unfortunately for Udrih, what the Bucks needed most (and hence the Redick trade) was a floor-spacing three-point shooter. Here Udrih came up short. He only made 25% of his three-pointers on the season, and he never made the shot into something with which he was comfortable. 

Doron Lamb, as far as I can tell, is a project. If what he did at Kentucky is any indication, he can hit three-point shots. But in Milwaukee, he never flashed a consistent stroke. During one brutal four-game stretch in mid-December, it fell apart completely. He only made 3 of 26 field goal attempts, going without a basket in three of the games.

To be fair, he was taking one for the team at that point. Udrih was hurt and Marquis Daniels was being used as the starting small forward, so Lamb played through the flu since the Bucks were down to having just three active guards on the roster. After that ugliness, he stopped getting regular minutes. In the preseason, there were signs of a floater that he could use as a counter-move to a three-point shot, but he never developed an outside shot that teams feared enough to overplay defensively.

Tobias Harris is the player that the Magic most likely coveted. He scarcely played at all last season as a 19-year-old rookie – the lack of a real training camp when the lockout ended hurt him badly and he was ill for most of the shortened camp that they did have. But coming into this season, Scott Skiles made him a starter.

Offensively, he played terrifically. His favorite spot on the court is on the baseline where he can slash to the rim or back his way in for a high-altitude turnaround. The Bucks needed him as a corner three-point shooter to space out the floor for the other starters and he did reasonably well in that department too. Physically, he has the tools to play like a big small forward along the lines of Paul Pierce or LeBron James, and he guarded both Pierce and James when given those assignments early this season. But that was a rare exception for Harris, who struggled defensively.

When he was given the task of stopping Pierce or James, he seemed to do just as well guarding them one-on-one as any NBA defender would. His problems came when he needed to grasp the overarching team defensive schemes and rotations. He would get lost, or stuck behind picks, and miss defensive assignments grossly. Most 20-year-olds would. That part of the game will come to him soon enough though. And when it does, watch out. The kid can score.

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