LOVE: Tony Snell – The Ideal Teammate

Tony Snell isn’t the best player on the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s not the second best, third best, or forth best either. Snell is just an average role-player-forced-starter on a sub-average basketball team, but goddamn it, I love him.

Snell is the Bucks’ token 3-and-D guy. To some extent, he’s the post-breakout (bad to good, not good to great) and pre-playmaker Khris Middleton. After a slow start to the 2016-2017 campaign, Snell has been a cold-blooded killer from behind the arc. In January, he had the best 3-point percentage in the entire NBA. That number sits at 40% now, which is a respectable output for a guy that puts up 4.5 3-point attempts per game.

Then there’s Snell’s standout defense. He consistently defends opponent teams’ top guard (and occasionally their small forward). It seems like Snell accepts this role with open arms too, as he defends with such a keen vitality that makes me think that he enjoys the challenge of being the antagonist. His ability to go from high-energy, smart defense on one end to a steady shooter on the other perfectly illustrates Snell’s usefulness to a Bucks team needing both of those skillsets.

But alas, none of this tells the story of how Tony Snell captured my heart. In one of the most odd, uninteresting, and nonexistent storylines of the NBA, Snell has become an awesome teammate.

You can’t measure “awesome,” but you can sure as hell see it. Snell has an uncanny ability to be near and pick up a fallen teammate within two seconds of said teammate’s fall. It’s honestly really strange, but I think I like it. Next time Giannis goes down, look for Snell to come absolutely racing in like his life depends on picking the Greek Freak up. Maybe it does. Snell could be a robot, made by Giannis, whose goal objective is to safeguard his creator’s life. Seriously, keep an eye out for it.

Number 21 has come a long way on the camaraderie front:

Robot or not, Milwaukee Snell is a great on-court teammate and better off-court bench mob hyper. On a team with a bunch of trendy mediocre non-rookies, like Beasley, Mirza, and Hawes (?), it’s easy to overlook Tony Snell. Don’t.

 

HATE: “If I had to take a positive away from this situation…”

No. Just stop it. Bucks optimists, commentators, and team personnel: Don’t take a positive away from a gruesome, repeat injury to a friendly and upstanding Jabari Parker. He doesn’t deserve it, and neither do the fans that have to hear this phrase over and over again.

Okay, sure, the Bucks may be performing better in some areas right now without Parker. Parker’s injury may have also opened the door for more Thon and Vaughn minutes. Great, those things are great. But the Jabari Parker injury is not great; don’t make light of a horrible situation. There are simply no uplifting caveats to an ACL tear.

 

LOVE: Rashad Vaughn and Greg Monroe – Defensive Stoppers

Have the Bucks gotten so bad and become so consistently inconsistent that net neutrals look like shining bright spots? It seems to be this way for both Vaughn and Monroe, as they both, somehow, look like better-than-mediocre defenders compared to most other Bucks players.

Monroe has developed a sharp awareness of knowing when to take a charge and developed a respectable skill of how to properly do so. He doesn’t overuse it at all *cough cough Ilyasova cough* or let it loose in only tight, end-of-game situations. For example, somewhat recently against the Nuggets, Monroe took a charge and hard fall when the Bucks were down big. You have to appreciate that type of dedication from a big man that goes down with a ton of force.

But there’s more to the Moose’s D. Monroe is snagging the ball away from opponents at a healthy rate. In fact, he’s up to about 1.3 steals a game, which places him among league leaders at the center slot. Whether hedging a ball-handler off of a pick-and-roll, stripping a cutter from the side when out of position, or poking the ball away from a big posting up, Monroe has been a consistent thief threat.

Then, there’s Rashad Vaughn. Perhaps time has allowed the UNLV alum to grow into the Bucks’ defensive scheme (do they still have one?). Surprisingly, Vaughn almost always seems to be in control when running defensive rotations, and like Monroe, has developed an underappreciated stealing ability.

Vaughn’s thievery is best on display in transition. His quick hands, a big component of his quick shot, allow him to swipe the ball away from most driving players without raking the arm. There was even one time, which is stuck in my head, during the most recent Bucks Cavaliers matchup where Vaughn hit the ball against LeBron’s knee during a 1-on-1 situation, ultimately forcing a turnover. It’s these small doings that make Bucks basketball not completely and utterly unbearable.

I need to note that both Monroe and Vaughn, especially Vaughn, are not great defenders. However, from where they both started, there has been vast improvement. Away from comparisons to the Bucks’ underwhelming defense, I doubt Monroe and Vaughn would shine too bright. But growth and improvement can be just as cool… right? Right? RIGHT?!

 

HATE: John Henson Jump Shots

Please, John Henson, for the sake of my sanity, TV, and Bucks fandom going forward: no more jump shots. Bucks fans call you J-Hook for a reason, so stick to what you’re good at. J-Ill-Advised-Elbow-Jump-Shot just does not roll off the tongue. Unless Giannis, sitting at 9 assists, 40 points, and 15 rebounds, passes you the ball at the elbow (why are you waiting for that pass at the elbow anyway?) with 1 second left on the shot and game clock in the fourth quarter, do not take the shot. It’s like watching Inspector Gadget trying to perform a task that’s inherently fluid. It’s just not going to work.

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