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O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight just want the Bucks to get an identity already

Jan 20, 2014, 9:45 AM EST

Joakim Noah, Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo

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.

Caron Butler wants more playing time, and O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight want an identity.

Mayo, via Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel:

“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.

With Mayo:

  • Offensive rating: 92.1
  • Defensive rating: 107.7

Without Mayo:

  • 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.

  1. frankgarrett - Jan 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    The writer for this article is a Jerk Off .

    THE DRAFT WILL GIVE THEM THE MISSING PIECE.

    The Bucks will be the THUNDER OF THE EAST . Starting next year for years to come . Get use to it

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 20, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But this article is about this season, and this season they are pretty bad.

  2. cruzan80 - Jan 20, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Trade Mayo for an exp contract & a draft pick & start building an identity in this years draft….

    • bougin89 - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      I would love a trade like that. Unfortunately Mayo isn’t worth an expiring contract and 1st round pick in this years draft.

  3. milkcan44 - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    They’d be in much better shape for the future if Hammond had not made the desperation (and knucklehead) move of giving away Tobias Harris for nothing. Look at his stats now that he’s over the injury and playing again. Wouldn’t he be more valuable than every journeyman gunner that Hammond brings in every year? All of them, Mayo, Jackson, Maggette, (maybe Butler) etc. want out halfway through the season.

  4. kevjones75 - Jan 20, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    I wish they’d let Nate Wolters play. I don’t think they’ve won since he lost his minutes to that clown Ridnour, who cried about his playing time. Giannis and Wolters are great on the court together.

  5. padraighansen - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    First, I agree completely with the notion that Milwaukee is better without O.J. Mayo. To anyone that’s watched them….that’s obvious.

    I have refrained from being overly critical of Hammond, because in some respects, his hands have been tied with bad contracts over the years, chronically injured players with bad contracts, and who really knows what goes on behind the scenes with the Senator.

    However – agree with the post about the Tobias Harris trade. What a colossal disaster for Milwaukee. Second, Henson, Giannis, Wolters at PG, Knight at SG – that’s the future. Hell, even Middleton, I think, is a player they can let develop more. Get them all on the court as much as possible now.

    Ridnour and Neal – there are playoff teams that could use both (OKC is one that comes to mind), and both have very movable contracts.

    But it’s the signings of Mayo, ZaZa, and Delfino (on top of Neal) that really have me wondering what the hell Hammond is thinking. The upside on those players was years ago. What’s the point?

    The Bucks are painful to watch now because they’re not playing the younger guys and letting them learn and develop together – which is exactly what OKC did 4 years ago. OKC took their lumps – 3-29, anyone? – and learned how to win. They got better. Milwaukee is not. They are getting worse, and by all appearances and soundbites, sounds like it’s still a toxic locker room.

    Bottom line, and I hate to say this, because I’m not a knee-jerk reaction guy…but at the very least, Hammond needs to be relieved of his duties. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Right now, the Bucks are literally insane.

    • milkcan44 - Jan 21, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      Hammond might have made the Tobias Harris trade because Skiles didn’t want to put up with a rookie, and yes – the owner wanted to make the playoffs to sell tickets, but it’s the job of the GM to be the voice of reason and protect the future.

  6. bhunter1995 - Jan 20, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    The Bucks have an opportunity to build a team through the draft, hopefully the basketball gods will honor the fact that the Bucks have tried to stay competitive. If they get a good building piece through this years draft they have an opportunity to get out of the cellar also they need to give minutes to the young players, nothing develops talent like playing time against the best players in the world, screw the record and sit the old guys they aren’t winning with the vets in anyway they might as develop their young players and get a top 4 pick.

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