Scott Skiles

New-look Bucks hoping to improve offensively

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There’s no getting around it: the Bucks were a horrible offensive team last season. Milwaukee finished dead last in offensive efficiency, dead last in True Shooting and Effective Field Goal Percentage, dead last in plain old field goal percentage, and dead last in points per game.

Unsurprisingly, the thing the Bucks are talking about right now is how the big draft-day trade that sent away Corey Maggette and John Salmons and brought in Beno Udrih and Stephen Jackson will make the Bucks better offensively next season. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has the story:

If all goes according to the Bucks’ plan, the changes will relieve some of the ball-handling pressure on Jennings and give the team more playmaking options on the floor.

Say Jackson and Jennings are in the backcourt, with Carlos Delfino at small forward, Drew Gooden or Ersan Ilyasova at power forward and Andrew Bogut at center. That would be a conventional lineup.

Or maybe put the 6-foot-7 Livingston in the lineup with Udrih, Jackson, Delfino and Bogut.

There are plenty of options for Bucks coach Scott Skiles.

“It’s not crazy talk to think you could put Brandon and Beno, or Shaun or Carlos, and Stevie (Jackson) in the game with Bogut,” Skiles said.

“You could have three or four ballhandlers out there. Handling the ball and passing the ball, there’s no question we improved.”

The Bucks hope to take some pressure off their shooters by becoming better at finishing plays at the rim: (According to, the Bucks finished — you guessed it — dead last in FG% on shots at the rim last season.)

One area that troubled the Bucks last season was an inability to finish plays at the basket.

“That has put so much pressure on our perimeter shooting,” Skiles said. “Both of those guys (Jackson and Udrih) are finishing-type players and their numbers show that. And Shaun will go in there around the rim and be creative and finish.

“We’re focused, of course, on our perimeter shooting. But we always come back to (what it would mean) if we would shoot a higher percentage around the rim, get some dunks and some easy baskets that other teams get.

“Then you don’t have a tendency to overreact to Carlos (Delfino) missing a three. When all the pressure is on your perimeter shooting all the time, it’s not a good mix.”

The Bucks’ offense has nowhere to go but up after their miserable showing last season — time will tell if their new-look lineup will allow their offense to improve enough to get the team back to the playoffs after a disappointing 35-47 season.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.