Grading The Milwaukee Bucks: Summer League Edition
With the games completed and recapped, it is now time to grade out the 2009 Milwaukee Bucks roster. It was an important summer for the young squad that needed a lot of questions answered during the five-game span in Las Vegas. Let’s see how it all went down.
Jodie Meeks, SG: Drafted in the second round, 41st overall, Meeks was expected to fight for a roster spot behind shooting guards Michael Redd and Charlie Bell.
In order to do this, he was going to have to shoot lights out and show he was capable of playing defense at an NBA level despite his slightly undersized frame at 6’4″. Well, After five games in the Summer League, it is looking more and more like Meeks was a huge steal in the draft and should have no problem making the roster.
During the five games, Meeks averaged a team-high 19 points while shooting a blistering 55.7 percent from the field. The junior from Kentucky showed a complete range of shooting as just eight of his 39 field goals were from behind the arc. Known for being a pure shooter in college, scouts wondered whether or not he could contribute in other areas of the game.
Defensively, Meeks had a steal in all five games and, from what I saw, did not look overmatched at all. He only averaged 2.2 rebounds per game, but that number did not need to be any higher than that.
Originally, I thought Meeks could be the second coming of Eddie House for the Bucks, but not I believe Meeks could be something special to come out of this draft. He reminds me a lot of Michael Redd who was also a pure shooter in college selected in the second round. In fact, Meeks (41st) and Redd (43rd) were taken by the Bucks in almost the exact same spot.
For whatever the Summer League is worth, which admittedly lacks on the defense, Meeks proved he is here to stay. GRADE: A
Brandon Jennings, PG: Despite Meeks’ hot shooting, most eyes were on the 10th selection in this year’s NBA draft. Many wondered how Jennings would play in his first “American basketball” game in over a year. After struggling in Europe in his only year there, Jennings showed that he is fully capable of playing and succeeding in the NBA.
After a shaky first game, Jennings ended the summer averaging 14.6 points and 8.2 assists. He looked blazing fast in the games as one scout said he “was the fastest player on the court, with or without the ball”. He showed glimpses of Steve Nash on his passing ability, Deron Williams on his range from deep, Chris Paul with his ability to get to the lane and finish with a floater, and a little bit of Allen Iverson in his pick-pocketing abilities playing on the ball.
Jennings will have to shoot better in the regular season (37.9 percent) but in a shot-happy summer league, that number is not completely accurate. His turnovers were also up at 4.2 per game but his passing abilities were not questioned during the week.
He is still raw and will need some work, but after a week it looks like the Bucks made nicely on their gamble of Jennings. GRADE: B+
Joe Alexander, SF: Many believe that general manager John Hammond decided to trade Richard Jefferson to 1) save money and 2) put in on Joe Alexander to become a starting small forward in the NBA.
Over the week, Alexander showed flashes of talent but also played out of control at times. What this means is he might be a year or two from completely breaking out but will need to harness his athleticism and turn it into a basketball player.
Alexander averaged 16.6 points and 6.4 rebounds to go along with 1.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per contest. The number that jumps out to me is the rebounding display that Alexander put on. In the games I watched, he positioned himself well and was aggressive on the glass.
He shot just 39.7 percent from the floor but went to the basket strong, averaging 7.6 free throws per game. He also turned the ball over just five times in the 160 minutes he played. GRADE: B
Amir Johnson, PF: Everyone in Milwaukee and their grandmothers are expecting a breakout season for Amir Johnson this year, but last week was not a good start.
Johnson really had just one game that could be considered a plus, occurring against the Bulls when he went for 17 points and eight rebounds.
Fouls were a problem for Johnson all week, however. In the four games he played in, he racked up eight, six, six, and seven fouls in each of the contests. It looks as though he will need to add more strength to survive in the NBA post.
Offensively, he shot 60 percent from the field and averaged 10.5 points per game. He is smooth and finesse down low and can really get up as seen in the alley-oop dunks thrown from Jennings. He reminds me a lot of a Tyrus Thomas that will play more in the post.
Johnson had his highs and lows during the week, but much more will be expected out of him over the course of the season. GRADE: B-
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, F
I was very excited going into the summer to see if Mbah a Moute could build on his fantastic 2008 campaign. Unfortuantely, he struggled to find his rhythm over the week and did not improve much. For the week, he averaged 7.8 points and 6.4 rebounds but failed to stand out amongst everyone else.
It seems as though we can expect much of the same from Mbah a Moute next year, which isn’t neccesarily a bad thing but just not a better thing. GRADE: C
Will McDonald, C
Outside of the starting five for the Bucks, no one else made much of a splash. McDonald was the “best of the rest”, averaging 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in an average of 16 minutes in the three games he appeared him. He is a longshot to make the team but had a decent week. GRADE: D
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