Rolling Milwaukee Bucks Must Keep Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis Together
Trust me, it makes sense.
An Ellis-Jennings duo may appear better suited for an offensive coach like Don Nelson than the defensive-minded Scott Skiles. But the reality is that this trio hasn't just found a way to coexist, they've actually found some early-season success.
Their 6-4 record is tied for third place in a deep Eastern Conference. It also includes road wins against playoff staples Boston and Philadelphia, along with a home victory over Indiana (the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference just one season ago).
Milwaukee's strong start can be directly linked to the play of Ellis and Jennings. The pair has combined for 37.1 points, 13.1 assists and 4.6 steals per game.
The offensive prowess of the backcourt mates has been the perfect complement to the defensive acumen of Skiles' front line. This two-way balance has Milwaukee fans hoping for more than just a punched playoff ticket.
According to hoopshype.com, Milwaukee will free up over $18 million with the expiring contracts of Beno Udrih, Samuel Dalembert and Mike Dunleavy. So money shouldn't be an issue.
It will likely come down to whether or not the Bucks front office thinks that this diminutive backcourt can find sustained success. With more teams shunning traditional backcourts for smaller, quicker pairings, the Bucks are in the best position to be at the cutting edge of the league's latest trend.
Milwaukee has accepted that this vertically challenged duo will face some rough defensive assignments, according to onmilwaukee.com's Jim Owczarski. But they also understand the headaches that Jennings and Ellis will give opposing defenders.
Who is the most important player on the Milwaukee Bucks?
They're also far more willing passers than they're given credit for. Both have been considered offensive black holes, but that's an oversimplified reaction to studying more box scores than game films. They've both been their teams' best offensive players, so coaches have called their numbers and teammates have deferred to their talents.
Defensively, both use their quickness to attack loose dribbles or lazy passes. And their natural gambling instincts are given leeway in Skiles' system. When Ellis or Jennings guess wrong, the Bucks have long rim-protecting presences behind them.
The NBA has been and continues to be a star-driven league. Milwaukee has two on their roster for the first time since Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson occupied the Bradley Center locker rooms.
If the Bucks play their financial cards right, they'll keep those two stars well beyond the 2012-13 season.
All statistics used in this article are accurate as of 11/22/2012.
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