Tonight's game in Los Angeles (don't worry, it's against the Clippers) will mark the 43rd game for the Milwaukee Bucks this season, meaning that it's time to assess the team up to this point. Here we go:
Best Offseason Acquisition: Richard Jefferson, SF
For me, this was really a toss-up between Jefferson and new point guard Luke Ridnour.
I give the nod to Jefferson because he takes a lot of pressure off of Michael Redd on the offensive end, and he averages more points per game (17.2) than Ridnour (11.2).
Ridnour does deserve some recognition, however. Many thought that his move to Milwaukee was no big deal, but the introduction of a true point guard to the team has helped with offensive efficiency. He averages 5.5 assists a game.
Best Offseason Dump: Yi Jianlian, SF
Yi's rookie campaign in Milwaukee didn't start well.
He didn't want to play for the Bucks, and no one could really blame him at the time. Once the season started, though, Yi showed he had potential. As the season wound down, he ran out of gas, as rookies tend to do, and his performance suffered.
This past offseason, new Bucks general manager gave Yi what he wanted: a ticket out of Milwaukee.
In the process, the best offseason acquisition, Jefferson, came over in a trade with the Nets.
The deal worked out for all sides.
The Bucks got an experienced, talented scorer, Yi got out of Milwaukee, and the Nets got an All-Star (well, sort of).
Best Rookie: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, SF
I know, there's only two rookies on the squad, Mbah a Moute and Joe Alexander, but the prince deserves recognition because he's been one of the best rookies in the entire association this season.
Coming out of UCLA, Mbah a Moute has been a perfect fit for Scott Skiles' defensive philosophy, and it has earned him 26.5 minutes per game this season. In his time, he usually defends the opponents' best players and averages eight points and six rebounds.
Best Bench Player: Ramon Sessions, PG
Sessions impressed in his time at the end of last season, and before the deal for Ridnour, he was slated to be the team's starting point guard.
Even though he doesn't start, he gets plenty of playing time, and Skiles has been known to use both of his point guards at times.
Sessions is a good change-of-pace player. He's better than Ridnour at penetrating perimeter defense and can get runners to drop once he's within 15 feet of the basket.
Best Offensive Player: Michael Redd, SG
He's been the Bucks scoring leader for most of the season, and that's a good place to start if you want to be the team's best offensive player.
The reputation Redd has is that of a three-point specialist, but anyone who watches the Bucks knows that there's more to his game than that.
While he is a great catch-and-shoot scorer, he can also put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. Redd, a lefty, can drive on the right side and reverse his layups effectively. He also has a knack for making tough runners through the lane. Another way Redd scores is from the free throw line, where he is an 83 percent shooter.
Best Defensive Player: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, SF
I already mentioned Mbah a Moute in the best rookie category, but there are a few things to add here. His averages for rebounds, steals and blocks aren't overly impressive, but what he does on defense doesn't show up in box scores: he hustles.
He's often one of the first players to loose balls and he has a good set of hands when the ball is bouncing around in close quarters.
MVP: Andrew Bogut, C
The Bucks still get a lot of flak for selecting Bogut over players like Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 draft, but he has quietly become a solid center for his team.
He's the only player on the team to average a double-double (11.8 points, 10.4 rebounds), and when he's out of games, like he is for the remainder of the current road trip, the entire approach of the team changes on both ends of the floor.
The Bucks want Bogut to touch the ball on every offensive possession that aren't fast breaks, and for good reason. He's a smart player in the post, has decent moves to the basket, a good hook shot, and is a good passer from the block.
Defensively, he's a big body that discourages guards from coming into the lane and offers a stout challenge to other fours and fives across the league.
He's not dominant as a player, but the team is much better off when he's in the game, both offensively and defensively. For this, he is the Bucks' MVP for the first half of this season.
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