Last night I went to Milwaukee for the Bulls third game of the season. Coming in, both the Bulls and Bucks were 0-2. The game was the Bucks home opener and the Bulls were playing the backend of a back-to-back.
-The Bulls play with no sense of urgency until the fourth quarter. In thirteen quarters, they have a 5-8 quarter record. Though in the fourth quarter, the Bulls are 2-1, with their only fourth quarter loss being against the 76ers by one point.
-In his first season, if Yi Jianlian can master the pick-and-pop, he will be very valuable for the Bucks. Yi's best asset is clearly his mid-range jump shot. Running successful sets ending with Yi taking an open jump shot will give the Bucks another go-to beyond isolating Michael Redd.
-Charlie Villanueva appears to be the odd man odd out in Milwaukee. Villanueva really has never gotten a fair chance in Milwaukee and unless a major injury occurs, it looks like he won't get much of a chance again this year. He will be the primary backup behind Yi, but will not get a fair chance to get into the starting lineup.
-Michael Redd has really done a great job becoming a more well-rounded scorer. He now utilizes his superior size against his defenders to get the ball closer to the baseline in order to get a closer shot.
-Redd took Kirk Hinrich out of his game last night by his play on the offensive end. Hinrich was in foul trouble all night and after making his first two shots of the game, struggled to score the rest of the night. He ended with only six points and turned the ball over six times. Redd's ability to use his three inch size advantage to draw fouls on Hinrich changed the entire game for both teams.
-Luol Deng is still not playing his best so far this season. Maybe it is because of the distractions around a potential Kobe Bryant trade, but Deng has looked frustrated all season. This continued last night against the Bucks where he shot only 4 for 11 from the field and committed four fouls.
-Andres Nocioni is taking too many three pointers this year - five in the first game, eight in the second game, six in the third game. I have no problem taking the shots when he is open, but often times he is forcing shots up.
-Thabo Sefolosha has a great deal of potential, has great size and athleticism, and has shown the ability to be a great one-on-one defender. But at this point, unless he puts a lot of work into his shot, he won't be able to make that jump to the next level. His shot needs to be more fluid and may end up needing to be completely reworked.
-In his second stay with Milwaukee, the Bucks coaches and management clearly decided making Desmond Mason rework his free throw shot a priority. Before the game, he was working on his form and during the game, he went 3 for 4 from the free throw line.
-The Bucks have an odd roster. Their top nine players are fairly strong, but after that they have a huge dropoff. Guys like Royal Ivey, Michael Ruffin, David Noel, Avree Storey, Jake Voskuhl, and Ramon Sessions are all fringe NBA players.