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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 Milwaukee Bucks Draft Board

(This blog post was written by Mikhail Nenaydykh)

The Milwaukee Bucks are in dire straits.

After a promising playoff run, the Bucks took several leaps backward last year. They finally cleared up some cap space, only to tie it to Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette, and John Salmons. All three were utter failures in the first year of their new deal.

After the season, GM John Hammond was quoted as saying, "[A]nother factor in needing to improve our team, I'd also say we need to become a little more athletic.”

Using athleticism, in addition to the existing holes on the team, the Bucks will have an array of talent available to them when David Stern starts the clock.

It is necessary to eliminate the players that the Bucks would LOVE to have but will be long gone by the time they are up. This list would include Derrick Williams, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter, and Brandon Knight. Unfortunately, Jimmer Fredette should also be eliminated because he denied to workout for the team, and Bob McKinney, Assistant GM for the Bucks, said they would have a hard time picking someone who skipped a workout.

After eliminating these players, their draft board probably looks a lot like this:

#1 Bismack Biyombo
PF/C – Congo
6’9’’ Tall, 7’7’’ Wingspan(!!!)
Player Comparison:
Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo
The athletic Biyombo would excite Skiles, and provide protection for Bogut, as well as solidify the frontcourt. He would be the only prospect ready to consistently contribute.

#2 Jan Vesely
SF/PF– Czech Rep.
6’11’’ Tall, 7’6’’ Wingspan(!)
Player Comparison:
This tough-minded Euro prospect has already produced on the pro-level. His main comparison is to Andrei “AK47” Kirilenko, which would be a great piece for the Bucks.

#3 Alec Burks
SG – Colorado
6’6’’ Tall, 6’10’’ Wingspan
Player Comparison:
Eddie Jones, Demar Derozan
The athletic Burks is the best SG prospect in the draft. Questions linger about his mental toughness and shooting ability, but there is no question the guy can play. Burks would be a very solid pick.

#4 Tristan Thompson
PF – Texas
6’9’’ Tall, 7’2’’ Wingspan
Player Comparison:
Kenyon Martin
Young, athletic big man. He plays with a tenacity that cannot be taught. His length and energy make up for his lack of height, but his offense is still pretty raw.

#5 Klay Thompson
SG – Washington
6’7’’ Tall, 6’9’’ Wingspan
Player Comparison:
Francisco Garcia, Marco Belinelli
This SG prospect is the son of former NBA player Mycal Thompson. Klay is a great shooter and has great size for SG, but is lacking athletically. Good overall game, but is he lottery worthy?

#6 Chris Singleton
SF/PF Florida St.
6’9’’ Tall, 7’1’’ Wingspan
Player Comparison:
Trevor Ariza, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Singleton is a defensive-minded player who would earn playing time with Skiles just for that. He is raw, but has size and length. Shows the athleticism that the Bucks desperately need.

#7 Marcus Morris
SF/PF – Kansas
6’8’’ Tall, 6’10’’ Wingspan
Player Comparison:
Tim Thomas
Marcus Morris is the more talented, more athletic of the Morris twins. He is a tweener, meaning too small for PF, but too slow for SF. But he has nice shooting touch and decent athleticism.

#8 Marshon Brooks
SG - Providence
6’5’’ Tall, 7’1’’ Wingspan
Player Comparison:
Jamal Crawford, Ben Gordon, Eric Gordon
Marshon has really impressed the Bucks, as he has returned to workout with the team several times. He would be a reach at 10, but if the Bucks trade back in the draft, look for them to pick Brooks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Goodbye Bradley Center, Hello Mega-Plex

(This blog post was written by Mikhail Nenaydykh; this is Mikhail's first blog post and The Warrior is excited to welcome him aboard.)

The problem with the Milwaukee Bucks is that they are majorly mismanaged and in great disarray. According to Forbes, they have ranked dead last in the NBA in terms of value for two years running. Ironically, they saw annual growth during both years.
Without a major adjustment, the Bucks franchise could eventually either become bankrupt or have to change host-cities, costing Milwaukee and the fans. There have been several cases of teams moving of late; most recently, the Seattle SuperSonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder, and before that, the Charlotte Hornets changed to the New Orleans Hornets.
This is especially an issue because of the current labor dispute between the NBA and the Players Union. As with the NFL, and soon the MLB, the two sides are negotiating millions, and one possibility being discussed is teams being disbanded and their players auctioned off to the rest of the NBA. The entire league is suffering from the economy’s slide. This would make sense because under the current system, the NBA has to pay for the teams that don't make money, so cutting these teams would mean more money to invest in other opportunities, like moving teams abroad.
The thing that would keep the Bucks in Milwaukee would be to make the team more valuable. The way to do this is by making the team consistently better every year, and by gaining support from the county, like the Brewers did with Miller Park. The team needs a new venue, and so does the city.
The major problem with the Bucks’ situation is the Bradley Center. Under the terms of their lease, the Bucks are owed $8.5 million by the Bradley Center LLC, which is to be paid out over the next several years. Also, the venue is among the oldest in the NBA, and breaks down consistently. As recently as 2009, the Bradley Center asked for a bailout from then Governor Jim Doyle. He included a provision for five million dollars, but the pavilion’s group still needed $18 million in renovations.
In comparison, the Brewers pay $900,000 to the owners of Miller Park, but make money off of tickets and merchandise. This approach has worked very well recently for the Crew, as their attendance has followed their increasingly maturing performance. Also, what has helped the team add talent, fans, and exposure was the development of Miller Park. Although the stadium cost the county approximately $392 million, it was worth every penny.
In agreement with former Senator Herb Kohl, the city needs to pay for a new mega pavilion. But if they do it, they would have to go all out. Such an investment would help the city’s national exposure grow exponentially. Such a venue could be similar to the famous Calatrava Art Museum. In fact, why not hire Calatrava to design the pavilion? With an already established connection and familiarity with the city, the agreement would not be difficult to arrange.
Making another major landmark that also attracts major media stars would further put Milwaukee on the map, attracting the bright minds of America to our city. Instead of bubbling ourselves out from the rest of the nation, the state needs to branch out and invite people to come in. And from the Bucks’ perspective, the team would be able to attract more fans and better talent to the team, similar to how the Brewers did. With a great pavilion to play in, players are more comfortable and would be more open to coming and playing for our team (as attracting talent has been an issue in recent years).
Yes this would cost that state a lot of money, but the fastest way to remove debt is to find major money making opportunities. By creating such a mega-plex, the long term investment would have a high percentage revenue yield. And the fans would keep getting to watch the basketball franchise that they grew up on.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jerk Know-It-All

(Article Written by Roberto Ruiz,, twitter @RobertoRuiz33)

This article is a direct response to the recent annual ranking of the four major leagues in North America done by ESPN The Magazine.

(Give me the voice of your version of a stereotypical sports fan jerk who acts like he knows everything but really knows nothing.)

The Green Bay Packers are the best franchise in North America. Really? What is the rationale for this decision? Can your average American even name another thing associated with Green Bay other than the Packers? What about that Brett Favre guy? Oh wait. Well what about Vince Lombardi? Never mind. Green Bay is part of the cheese state right?

Who in their right mind would rank a team from little Green Bay over a team from New York City? I mean come on, New York city is THE place to be, right? The New York Yankees have to be the better franchise, especially if you take into account the championships won. Championships should be one of the top categories, right? Forget the fact that the Yankees have only won one World Series in the last ten years despite having the highest payroll every year. Teams shouldn't be respectful and fun loving like the Packers, the best franchises should be made up of the selfish money-grabbing jerks who expect you to give up your table for them, not the guys who will give their table up for you.

Fine, so a big team like the Yankees shouldn't be the best franchise. What about a team like the Miami Heat? They are supposed to win the next six NBA championships; that should put them in prime position for the best franchise. As good as the Packers were last season there is no way that they will win the next six championships. Besides, the fans of the team shouldn't hang outside of the stadium for hours in sub-zero temperatures just to see their team (all the while overjoyed that they are able to wait outside in sub-zero temperatures so that they can witness the most storied franchise in the NFL). Fans should instead show up sometime between the start of the game and halftime, because nothing good ever happens until the second half of games anyways.

Okay so maybe that wasn't the best example. Surely the Chicago Bears are the top franchise of all sports. They don't have a ludicrously high payroll, nor do their fans show up late to games. People are Bears fans their entire lives, and they haven't won as many championships as the Packers have, so that has to be good for something right? Sure, they haven't won a championship since 1985, but they were in the NFC championship game last year!

Let's be honest. This seems kind of like an obvious choice to me. The Packers have the best ownership, the best fans, the best stadium, and the best history. On top of all of that, they are winning, per the usual.

I guess my only real problem with this ranking was that the Tampa Bay Lightning was the second ranked franchise. I am shocked, truly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Can Anyone Else Smell the World Series?

(Article Written by Roberto Ruiz,, twitter @RobertoRuiz33)

I would guess not, given the circumstances.

The 2011 MLB season is not even halfway done yet and the Milwaukee Brewers do not hold a commanding grip on first place in the division; they don't even have a lead since they are tied for first with the St. Louis Cardinals (not counting tiebreakers). This team, though, is starting to show the right blend of youth and veteran leadership. Each of the key players are in their prime, so logically the time is now or never. Beyond that, the Brewers are playing at such a high level that it seems like they can beat anybody. Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson seem more comfortable than ever in their current spots in the rotation. Shaun Marcum is pitching like the staff ace, and Zach Greinke hasn't even shown all that he can do yet. This team is eight games above .500 and they have three key players not even playing close to their potential (Greinke, Casey Mcgehee, and John Axford), and a manager who is still learning (even though it doesn't seem like it).

After sweeping the Cardinals at home this last week, the Brewers were riding high on emotions. Ryan Braun, Nyjer Morgan, Rickie Weeks, and Prince Fielder have been playing about as well as fans can expect them to play, and they have been carrying the offense thus far. Corey Hart and Johnathan Lucroy are playing up to snuff thus far, and fans expect them to continue being nice complements to this offense. Mcgehee has been hitting sub .230 thus far, far below his career average, and he should start heating up soon and providing a nice cover to Prince's bat like he has in years past. Greinke's ERA has remained far above what is expected, but that can be attributed to his lack of preparation before the season started; Greinke is just starting to find his groove so expect the ERA to drop below 4.00 within the next few weeks.

The main speed bump will be the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies have the pitching to one-up the Brewers but their hitting has been lacking all season. The Phillies were the preseason pick to win the World Series before the season started, but anybody who just watched the NBA finals knows that a few stars can be outplayed by a team.

With Mark Kotsay and Craig Counsell providing veteran leadership off of the bench, the Brewers expect to be running hard through mid-October for the first time since most of us can remember. This article may be a bit premature, but I have a feeling about this, kind of like when I had a feeling about the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl way back in November.

Postscript: Speaking of the Super Bowl: I watched the game again today, in entirety, and it still amazes me how the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to contain Greg Jennings for 75% of the field, but couldn't keep an eye on him when the Packers were within 25 yards of the end zone. It just seems to me like you should pay extra close attention to a star athlete when a touchdown is a distinct possibility. (Also, did anyone else find it incredibly refreshing when Jennings referred to Donald Driver as the number one receiver after the game ended? That showed the type of team attitude that the Packers possessed.)
Post-postscript: Troy Polamalu looked like a fool all game.

Monday, June 13, 2011

NBA Finals 2011. Mavericks vs. Heat

(Article Written by Roberto Ruiz,, twitter @RobertoRuiz33)

This NBA finals series really was an example of good triumphing over evil. Dirk Nowitzki, the star of the Dallas Mavericks, finally won the ring that he has been dreaming of since his 2006 defeat in the finals to the Miami Heat. At the end of the day, the Mavericks won the finals because of Nowitzki's ability to make shots down the stretch. Nowitzki drove the lane and made a game-clinching layup during the last five minutes of what seemed like every game. Meanwhile, Lebron James's star seemed to shrink under the bright lights.

Twice now, James has failed to get the job done in the finals. We are forced to ask whether or not he deserves to be considered among the all-time greats. While at one time this was all but certain, James's performance as of late has forced fans to rethink that status. Even to this day, many writers and fans believe that James is the best player since Jordan. Now we must lump James in with the likes of Elgin Baylor, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, etc. There is one big difference between James and those three though, and that is the fact that James has now turned opaque in two finals appearances. I am sure that James will win at least one NBA title during his career, but this is the one finals that he wasn't supposed to win. Winning this series would have cemented James's legacy, but instead his legacy is now tarnished.

On the flip side, Nowitzki's star has never shined brighter. Coming into the playoffs, many picked the Mavericks to be upset by the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. NBA fans blinked and opened their eyes to a truly great player standing on a podium, hoisting the NBA finals MVP trophy above his head, tears in his eyes, and a look of satisfaction on his face. What more can we ask from a man than to lead a group of aging veterans to victory against a younger, fiercer, more talented Miami Heat squad? In the 2006 NBA finals, Nowitzki left much to be desired because he was often left watching Dwyane Wade take over games in the fourth quarter. This time around, it was Wade and James that did the watching.

Let's be honest, the Heat will be heavy favorites to win the championship entering next season, but tonight was Nowitzki's night. It was Mavs owner Mark Cuban's night, who finally shut his mouth long enough to be able to enjoy the moment. It was Jason Terry's night, who tattooed the NBA championship trophy on his bicep before the regular season even started. It was Jason Kidd's night, whose calming presence finally led his team to an NBA championship. Savor the night, NBA fans, because I know many of you are dreading the time when James gets to hoist the trophy over his head, instead of someone as universally loved as Dirk.