It’s been said that if given the right touches and opportunity, most NBA players can be transformed in 20-point scorers. Move such a claim within the limits of reason however (come on, is any team really going to give Jarron Collins 35 shots a night to hit that mark?), and the pool of players in the L with the ability to score big shrinks a bit. It’s obviously tough to get into the league without considerable scoring abilities, but to put up points against NBA defenders? It’s not easy, even for premier athletes that have been playing the game their whole lives.
At least that’s what the Milwaukee Bucks were banking on when they acquiring two scorers who offer little else: Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
It’s not that Milwaukee gave up all that much in their two trades on Wednesday; the price to attain CDR was a 2012 second rounder, and the Bucks only lost Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric in grabbing Maggette. That’s because both players come with their own risks, and Maggette in particular could prove to be far more trouble than he’s worth.
Milwaukee just traded for the right to pay Corey almost $31 million over the next three seasons. That’s how much this team wants to improve immediately, and that’s how much they value Corey’s scoring abilities. It’s probably not the right move in the long run, and it should be…interesting to see how Maggette fits into Scott Skiles’ defense.
The Bucks locked themselves into three years of a player with a rather singular focus, and rarely does that turn out well. Yet I still appreciate this move for what it does — and says — about the Bucks.
Spending money to acquire talent screams of win-now, but it’s more than that. After all, a commitment to win now is still a commitment to winning, and the Bucks reviewed their season, figured out their weaknesses, and traded for a player who can help to fix some of them. The Bucks had the eighth worst offense in the NBA last season, yet made the playoffs due to a late-season push and a terrific campaign by Andrew Bogut. Maggette will slide into the rotation in place of the outgoing John Salmons, and while they don’t have identical skill sets, Maggette can do much of what Salmons did, only better.
Maggette and Salmons’ offensive ratings last year were identical, and they’re comparably effective on long two-point jumpers, a staple of Skiles’ offense. Will Corey kill countless possessions throughout the season by putting his blinders on? Of course. But the Bucks know that, and are willing to still invest this much money in him because of what he can do (score in bunches, get to the line) and what their current roster can’t (umm, score in bunches, get to the line).
Douglas-Roberts is also a pretty interesting get for the Bucks, especially because of his clear need for discipline. Not to play psychiatrist from miles and miles away, but reports from New Jersey last season pointed to CDR’s mental and emotional immaturity as a reason for his benching and struggles. Sounds like a Scott Skiles project, to me.
At Memphis, CDR was a solid scorer, particularly from mid-range. He could do the same in the NBA with the right coach both backing him and challenging him. Skiles could be that guy, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Douglas-Roberts fill in for Jerry Stackhouse next season. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see him sulking on the bench for most of the year, so you never know. If Milwaukee can figure out the CDR riddle, they could have a fairly competent scorer on their hands whose game is tailor-made for Skiles’ offense, and if not? Well, they’re down a 2012 second round pick. I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to get by.
The logic behind these moves is obviously eclipsed by the result; if Maggette and CDR are failures, then the trades are too. If not, then they were intelligent low-risk, decent-reward moves by John Hammond. The Bucks are jumping to contending status, but they may have just gotten a bit better by correctly identifying their weaknesses and doing something revolutionary: acquiring players specifically to negate them.