When I was a kid, my parents gave me a
woefully inadequate very generous allowance of $10 a week. One day, after reading SI For Kids and seeing a sick basketball video game advertised for Game Boy Advance (I KNOW, I’M OLD, SHUT YOUR FACE), I came up with the rather ambitious idea of saving all my money for this device. For a kid who needed two weeks to save up enough money for the new Linkin Park album, this was no small undertaking. But I shut down my spending habits for several weeks.
Then, around Week 5, I started to waver. “After I get my Game Boy,” I realized, “I’ll still need to actually buy the game. So I’ll be sitting there with a brand new game console for five or six weeks before I can even play with it? Screw that.”
So I went out to take care of the whole “having some money to spend” problem, and several Bionicle Lego sets later, I had some cool things but not the big prize I had started out looking for. I knew that the Lego sets wouldn’t be as much fun as the Game Boy, but at $10 a week, it was impractical for me to try to buy a big ticket item. I would have to settle for several smaller, less expensive items instead.
The Milwaukee Bucks went out and bought Bionicle Legos last season, so to speak. After understandably losing patience waiting for Andrew Bogut to recover from what one can only really describe as the worst luck in THE ENTIRE FREAKING WORLD, the Bucks pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Bogut to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Monta Ellis. It was somewhat of a headscratcher, given that Milwaukee already had an undersized inefficient guard in their backcourt in Brandon Jennings. But there was little room to question the deal; Milwaukee wasn’t really in the playoff race and if nothing else, the deal would set them back enough to get a better lottery pick.
So with that lottery pick, the Bucks picked up John Henson, a decent defender with a lot of length, but the very definition of a project. Henson is 6’10 but extremely skinny as you can see from this picture (and I’m sure his weight is the thing you noticed first). Presumably Henson will fill out as he trains in NBA weight rooms, but looking at his frame, it’s not really evident whether or not he will out in a significant way, and given his extreme offensive rawness, it’s also not really evident how much help he will be to Milwaukee this season.
One of the smallest market teams in the NBA, Milwaukee only has two options for improvement. The first is to try to pick up a lot of efficient, inexpensive pieces that make up a winning whole, much the way Denver has done. The second option is to tank and then to draft a franchise-changing player who might very well leave just as he enters his prime. Milwaukee hasn’t really done a good job of either option.
With a gunner like Monta Ellis, the Bucks are put in an awkward position. Ellis isn’t going to help a team become more efficient. Indeed, Milwaukee’s team eFG% was 17th in the NBA, and while their offense put up a lot of points, the defense was was 22nd in points allowed per 100 possessions.
But with a high-powered offense like the one provided by scorers like Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Jennings and Ellis, the Bucks are bound to win an inconvenient amount of games. Not enough to make the playoffs, and certainly nowhere near enough to be considered a contender, but definitely enough to keep Milwaukee out of the top 3 in the lottery.
Listen, I really like Monta Ellis. I do. How can you not when he did this? And this? And this? My goodness, I’m dizzy just watching those. But his addition isn’t doing the Bucks any favors. In fact, his inefficiency and his talent, paradoxically, are probably combining to hold them back.
It’s tough to stay patient when everybody around you is picking up new cool toys while you are stuck playing with nothing. But the Bucks are in the unenviable position of having bought several Bionic Lego sets and discovered that literally nobody thinks they are as cool as you do.
Been there, bros. Been there.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.