Jan 20, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT
The Milwaukee Bucks have not won a game in 2014.
Considering the 7-33 Bucks are the NBA’s worst team, who knows when they’ll break their nine-game losing streak? They’re capable of winning any game – though all seven of their wins have come against teams with losing records – but they’re not going to be favored any time soon.
To the surprise of nobody, Milwaukee’s veterans are beginning to express their displeasure. Winning cures all ills, but the Bucks have had no feel-good moments to ease the pain of their sick season.
“You look around the league, you’ve got some teams that are defensive teams,” Mayo said. “You’ve got some teams like (Houston) and the Warriors that are offensive-minded, like Portland and Denver, they’re going to get up and down, spread the floor.
“You’ve got teams like Memphis, Chicago, physical, defensive-minded. Here we are at game 40, we don’t know what we are right now. It’s going to be hard to collect wins when you don’t know what to expect.”
Knight agreed with Mayo. Via Gardner:
“That’s a great point,” Knight said. “If you look at the Bucks, what are we known for? We know this team here (Houston) is known for their inside presence with Dwight and scoring a lot of points. And they’re going to shoot a lot of threes as well.
“So what is our identity? I think that’s something we have to define and we have to play to that identity if we’re going to be anywhere near the team we want to be.”
I’m sorry, but the Bucks have an identity.
They’re the worst offensive team in the NBA, scoring just 95.6 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com/stats.
They shoot poorly, don’t get to the free-throw line and turn the ball over too much. On the bright side, they’re only slightly below average at offensive rebounding. But all together, their offense distinguishes them from the rest of the NBA.
If their offensive rating holds – which isn’t a given, considering scoring typically rises during an NBA season – it would the worst in an 82-game season since 2003-04, when the Chicago Bulls (93.9) and Toronto Raptors (94.6) had lower marks.
Milwaukee also the worst defensive-rebounding team in the NBA (identity!), but that’s unlikely to reach a historically bad level.
The Bucks can’t simply choose to be a strong offensive team like the Rockets or Warriors, a strong running team like the Trail Blazers or Nuggets or a strong defensive team like the Bulls or Grizzlies.*
Those teams have the players to succeed in at least one facet of the game. The Bucks don’t.
*Memphis has struggled defensively overall this season but ranks sixth in points allowed per possession in the last month.
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In his assessment, Mayo also complained about getting irregular minutes. And perhaps Larry Drew should end the fluctuations – and sit Mayo. The Bucks have been drastically better when he’s off the court.
- Offensive rating: 92.1
- Defensive rating: 107.7
- Offensive rating: 100.1
- Defensive rating: 102.5
That’s the difference between being the worst team in the league and just regularly bad.
Then again, doesn’t being the worst team in the league come with a stronger identity than being just regularly bad?
Mayo and Knight should be careful what they wish for. Instead of seeking an identity, they should help Milwaukee go from terrible to merely subpar in a few areas – and there are a lot of areas where Milwaukee is terrible to choose from.
Teams rarely choose their identity and then play to it. Typically, their identity is established based on the skillsets of their players. Milwaukee is better off with no identity than the identity it has now – bad defensive rebounding and even worse offense.
And good news for all: Even if the Mayo and Knight help the Bucks lose their identity, they’re already so far back in the standings, that meager improvement probably wouldn’t cost them the top seed in the lottery. Then, in June they can draft a player capable of helping the team form a positive identity.