It’s usually not hard to tell when two players like sharing the floor together.  A certain flow takes over the game when OJ Mayo and Jerryd Bayless control back court duties.  It’s hard to put into words, but you know when you see two people who are into each other?  The basketball version of that is seeing a guy pass to his teammate and trust that this dude is either giving him the ball right back; or he’s putting that shit up.  If I cut right now, he’s going to pass me the ball, and if he doesn’t, I’m sure he has a perfectly good reason. This is exactly what you see when watching Bayless and Mayo on the court together.

The relationship goes back to their high school days, when they were considered top talent as they were bothawarded as 2007 McDonald’s All-Americans.  The ride continued as they declared for the 2008 NBA draft after two successful freshman seasons.  The NBA hasn’t been quite as kind to either of them, but that’s probably where the relationship really cemented.  Their games require a star’s mentality, but without the physical ability to overpower their opponents, teams were reluctant to give them the reigns. By the time they finally teamed up in Milwaukee, OJ could easily understand Jerryd, and Jerryd could easily understand OJ.  A bond can be formed quite easily with tar, that’s why the smokers all look like they’re having a grand time outside the cafe.  Tar, life lessons essentially the same thing.

Juice and Bayless from all the way back in 2007 (Rivals)
Juice and Bayless from all the way back in 2007
(Rivals)

Last season, the two led the second unit game in and game out.  When they’d come into the game the Bucks had the chance to go on a run. When playing with OJ, Bayless is quick to move the ball and cut because he trusts OJ to make a play or rotate the ball. When he plays without OJ, he tends to take over the offense.  Either he’s getting a shot up for himself, or he’s waiting to pass until he knows his teammate has a shot.  A lot more needless dribbling, which halts the team’s ball movement. But with OJ, they were very good at creating driving lanes for each other by dribbling towards one another at the perimeter, handing the ball off, and curling hard towards the hoop.  Once either player got into the lane, they were threats to go right in for a lay-up, stop on a dime for a floater, or kick it out to one of the Bucks many shooters.  When they were clicking, our bench unit gave the league fits.

We haven’t had the fortunes of seeing the two play together much this season.  Between injuries and a poor fitting roster causing OJ to become an NBA starting point guard, it’s been a very strange year.  Our team just has too few shooters to give us the luxury to play both off the bench, they still give us something in their current roles, but they just don’t have the same energy.

Allowing Juice to walk in the off season could come back to haunt us.  Mayo has been a team guy this year, he’s limited himself as a defensive first, spot up point guard.  It’s hard to judge him on his poor season, when he’s maintained his mental focus through injuries, role change, and poor team performance.  As long as we can sign him cheap, which we should be able to, I think he’ll be key next year heading the 2nd unit with Bayless.  Jerryd and Kidd are tight.  Jerryd and OJ are tight.  The distributive property of friendship tells us that J Kidd and OJ must therefore also be tight.

I suspect things to actually make basketball sense next season.  If we keep things semi in order, all we need is some improvement from Giannis and Jabari and we’ll be back in the playoffs.  If we blow things up, we shall see.

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