5 Mistakes Milwaukee Bucks Made This Season
With a record of 13-58, the list of mistakes the Milwaukee Bucks have made during the 2013-14 season is certainly a lengthy one.
Some offseason acquisitions—like signing Gary Neal—didn't pan out, while others—such as the Larry Sanders contract extension—look worse and worse as each day passes.
And then, there has been the play on the court.
Despite bringing in a player like O.J. Mayo, who is known for his offense, the Bucks have suffered on that end and haven't been able to consistently score enough to win games.
In fact, they haven't done much consistently enough to win.
But as they play out the final stretch of games, these are the five that stand out among the rest.
* Unless noted, statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference and accurate through March 26. *
5. Giving Larry Sanders a Contract Extension
There's no doubt the 2012-13 season was a breakout year for center Larry Sanders, but immediately extending his contract probably wasn't the smartest idea.
Of course, that's easy to say in hindsight.
Still, to this point, the decision hasn't exactly paid off.
Appearing in just 23 games, Sanders is averaging 7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 25.4 minutes. Those numbers are all down from last season's averages.
Additionally, the one area he really needs to try to improve in was his ability to defend without fouling. In the small sample of games we saw him in this year, that didn't happen. The 4.6 fouls per game he averaged were an increase from a year ago.
And while the decision may prove to be the right one down the road, right now it's probably not sitting too well with Bucks fans.
4. Acquiring O.J. Mayo
In 2012-13, during his first and only season with the Dallas Mavericks, O.J. Mayo finally got around to posting productive numbers again.
And for the Bucks, acquiring the shooting guard over the summer seemed to be a solid move.
Some—myself included—thought Mayo could thrive in an environment that allowed him to be a team's primary scorer. Unfortunately, that scenario didn't even come remotely close to happening.
Posting averages of just 11.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 40.7 percent from the floor and connecting on just 37.0 percent of his three-point attempts, Mayo hasn't been able to maintain the momentum he gained last season.
At $8 million a year and no clear future in terms of his role with the organization, the signing becomes more and more perplexing as each day passes.
3. Zaza's Absurd Payday
See that smile?
But it's hard to fault Zaza Pachulia here.
All he's doing is cashing in on an offer that never should have been written in rough form, let alone drafted up as an official contract.
To his credit, Pachulia hasn't been useless.
After battling some nagging injuries, he's appeared in 42 games and is posting respectable averages of 7.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists, despite shooting a horrid 40.6 percent.
No amount of toughness, veteran leadership or work ethic can convince anyone that bringing him back at the price of $5.2 million a year was a good decision, though.
Even for a franchise with a history of offering bad contracts, this one ranks among the worst.
2. Hiring Larry Drew
Larry Drew isn't a bad coach, but this position just may not be the right fit.
The record he has coached this team to speaks for itself, but almost immediately out of the gates, players were unhappy with his style.
I feel like I’m capable of being in the game at the end and helping my team win, coming up with blocks and rebounds,” Sanders told NBA.com before exiting the locker room swiftly. “I haven’t been able to get my rhythm out there. I understand foul trouble situations, but tonight I wasn’t in foul trouble.
“Last year I finished so many games. I feel like that’s when I lock in the most. But I haven’t been able to get in the game to finish. That carries over to the next game. When you sit the last three quarters of each game, I can’t have no carryover. And it’s hard for me. I’m still a young player. It’s only my eighth year playing basketball.
That's not really the way a coach wants to kick off his tenure with a new club.
Drew has had his moments, such as playing a big role in the development of Brandon Knight—much like he did in Atlanta with Jeff Teague—but he's fallen short in taking control of the team and getting his players disciplined.
And while he's done a good job of getting his young players minutes, that alone isn't a great thing, which leads us to the biggest mistake the Bucks—and specifically Drew—have made this season.
1. Inability to Establish a Consistent Rotation
One thing which has hurt the Bucks this season on the floor is the inconsistency of playing time Drew has divvied out.
There are currently 11 players who are logging more than 20 minutes per game on the season and Drew has put a staggering 26 different starting lineups on the court to begin a game.
The 2013-14 season was lost early on, but that doesn't give the coaching staff a pass on never developing any sort of consistency.
Throwing more minutes the way of youngsters is understandable—and expected when struggling—but there needs to be a method to that madness.
In fact, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote back in January, Mayo was concerned with the team's direction, or lack thereof:
"It's the same thing it's been night in and night out," Mayo said. "It's been the same result, whatever the game plan has been.
It's hard to get a rhythm when you don't know what's going to happen for you night in and night out. You may get 6 minutes, 30 minutes. There's no staple to what we're doing. You can hang in there, compete and keep it close.
If you don't have a backbone to what you do, whether it's going to be a defensive thing, an up-tempo thing, a pound-it-in-the-paint thing, a drive-and-kick thing. We've got to find a staple as a team.
Finding that staple, as Mayo calls it, is a big part of a coach's job.
Drew was never able to develop any consistency with his approach to starting lineups, rotations, offensive schemes and general team morale.
That's not to say he is solely responsible for the poor season, but all the flip-flopping of minutes and lineups goes to show you he had no clue what to do with this team either.