Don’t cross the swags

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein… he was pretty smart…

The Milwaukee Bucks can’t score. Andrew Bogut can’t stay healthy. These have been the two biggest problems with Milwaukee Bucks basketball over the last three years. Since 2009, the Bucks have been ranked 23rd, 30th and 14th respectively. While 14th doesn’t look so bad, take into account that the current offensive rating is this high because of the inflation/deflation of offensive numbers across the league thanks to Lockout Basketball. The Bucks’ offensive rating is currently 104.0, which is lower than the 104.9 that put them 23rd in the NBA a couple of seasons prior. When Andrew Bogut was on the floor this year, the offensive rating was 98.56 (according to basketballvalue.com), which would have been 2.5 points per 100 possessions less than the Bucks’ 30th ranked offense last season.

Over the last four seasons, Andrew Bogut has missed 106 games and counting and he’s only finished with more than 70 games played twice in seven years. He’s had an obliterated elbow, a lower back fracture, and had a stress fracture in his ankle. When he’s on the floor, he’s arguably the best defensive big man not named Dwight Howard. The problem is if he does indeed miss the rest of this season, he will have averaged roughly 32 missed games per season over the last four seasons.

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The Golden State Warriors have one postseason appearance on the last 17 seasons. This used to be a proud organization that thrived off fastbreak, breakneck basketball. Don Nelson had them headed toward the promise land every season with Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin running the show. Then Run TMC was dismantled, Chris Webber came aboard, Chris Webber got Nellie fired, Chris Webber got himself traded, Rick Adelman took over, Rick Adelman left, PJ Carlesimo took over, PJ got choked by a player, Dave Cowens showed up for a few games, Eric Musselman and Mike Montgomery hilariously took over for a few seasons, Nellie came BACK to the Oakland sidelines, coached them to the playoffs, coached them out of the playoffs, and left them in shambles.

Part of these shambles have been Monta Ellis as the best player and the leader on this team. Monta is an otherworldly scorer. Seriously, there aren’t really any players like him in the league/world that can score like him. You’d have to go to Jupiter to find something comparable and even then you have to adjust for their messed up gravity and pace. From 2008-2010, the Warriors’ offense ranged from 108.1 to 109.5 points per 100 possessions. Both of those seasons Monta registered an offensive rating of 99. Over the last two years, he’s been much more efficient than in years past, but the Warriors have also had -7.38 and -5.86 net ratings with him, respectively.

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Tuesday night, the Bucks and Warriors completed a trade with Andrew Bogut, Stephen Jackson heading to Oakland for Monta Ellis, Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh. While Udoh will be a nice piece for this Scott Skiles team and Stephen Jackson’s return to Oakland should be as eventful as his mouth is loud, Bogut’s addition to this Warriors team and how he’ll complement David Lee are extremely interesting to me. All of this is assuming Bogut is healthy of course, and that’s clearly been a problem, but… excuse me a second… I just realized something.

BRANDON JENNINGS AND MONTA ELLIS ARE IN THE SAME BACKCOURT!

Holy swag balls, that’s going to be awkward!

Think about this for a minute. Monta Ellis is a shoot only shooting guard who has the ability to pass just enough to trick you into thinking he’s not a shoot only shooting guard. Brandon Jennings is a point guard who has made a career out of Gumby haircuts, Under Armour campaigns, one really good game once, and A LOT of jumpers from outside of his range. These guys take A LOT of shots per game each.

In fact, here is the evolution of their attempts per game throughout their respective careers:

Throw these two together and you might as well start packing up Ersan Ilyasova’s apartment overlooking the cheese factory for him. And we all know Ersan LOVES HIM some cheese. Larry Sanders is never going to touch the ball again, but that has as much to do with their lack of passing as it does with his inability to catch a basketball. It looks a lot like this.

It’s unfair to just assume their games will exist in a vacuum once they join forces and that their numbers won’t be altered, but let’s pretend this is still Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis we’re talking about here. BECAUSE IT IS. This backcourt is going to have all of your long jumper attempts. They’re going to have all of your pull-up jumper attempts. Hell, this backcourt is just going to have all of your attempts. I think it’s safe to say that based on the gregarious shooting of these two, the attempts won’t really very from what they are now. That’s puts them here with other top volume shooting combos around the league.

Look at all of those attempts! They would be shooting more than LeBron and Wade (although obviously free throw attempts should be taken into account). They’d be shooting almost as much as Kobe-Pau and Durant-Westbrook.

The thing about these two guys on their own is there are a lot of doubts about them being able to lead a team. Monta Ellis has been a volume chucker for quite some time and it’s gotten the Warriors essentially nowhere. Brandon Jennings has been a volume-shooting point guard under Scott Skiles and their attitudes have clashed a lot recently. The only time Jennings isn’t putting up a lot of shots is when he’s trying to throw a tantrum to Skiles.

We’ve seen plenty of volume shooting guards excel while leading their teams and it’s not like Jennings is a bad defensive point guard or anything. It’s very possible that he’s just shooting a lot because he doesn’t have many other options to pass to other than Ilyasova, Dunleavy and Delfino who are all very good shooters. Oh wait, so he DOES have people to pass to. Well maybe Monta was just better off with the ball in his hands and not trying to commit to defense or rely on his mediocre teammates. OH WAIT HE HAD STEPH CURRY AND DAVID LEE.

There really aren’t enough basketballs for these guys with their teammates and yet, they get essentially recused from involving others and playing a team game because the style of their games are so appealing. Jennings’ dribble has a rhythmic dissonance when synced up with his jump shot. Monta Ellis is able to explode to the hoop and set team basketball back 30 years while still managing to set highlight packages ahead by 10 years.

If you believe in the term “swag” (and Tebow knows that I don’t), then you’ve probably assigned it as a saturating label to these two players and what they do on the court. Their style and flare, the way they carry themselves, the calculated hitch in their steps are all reasons not to harshly critique or “hate on” what they do.

When you have a control freak like Scott Skiles, he is going to want ball control, smart shots within the flow of the offense, and a certain old school mentality that “kids today” just can’t seem to emulate. You can maybe get away with one all-encompassing swag. But if you try to bring TWO swags into the fold…

You just never cross the swags. It’s the same as crossing the streams with photo packs in Ghostbusters. Sure, you may be able to defeat Zuul, Gozer the Gozerian and turn Sigourney Weaver from canine to cellist, but you could also end up ending existence, as we know it. And that’s exactly what Milwaukee has done by putting Jennings and Monta in the same backcourt.

They’ve crossed the swags.

Maybe it will end up giving them the jolt they need to secure a playoff spot and free the gatekeeper and keymaster at the same time. But if the world ends when they start playing their game side-by-side, don’t pretend like I didn’t try to warn you.

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