Ouch. The Milwaukee Bucks learned this morning that shooting guard Michael Redd, their leading scorer, will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee during last night’s win over Sacramento.
If the season ended today (it does not), the Bucks would be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05. And while Milwaukee was seeded eighth, a half-game ahead of New Jersey, the Bucks boasted the conference’s sixth-best point differential, better than higher-seeded Detroit and Miami. Alas, that pace will be hard to keep up without Redd. Milwaukee was 5-9 when Redd missed 14 games earlier this season with a sprained right ankle, and the Bucks are 7.3 points better per 100 possessions with Redd on the floor.
Defense will give Milwaukee a chance to compete. Scott Skiles has the Bucks 13th in the league in Defensive Rating, which might not sound so great unless you know Milwaukee was dead last in the league in D a year ago. Redd isn’t known for his defense, and the Bucks’ Defensive Rating is better with him on the bench.
The question then becomes whether Milwaukee can score without Redd. The Bucks are going to need continued production from forward Charlie Villanueva. I had seen Villanueva have a big game or two, but had no idea how productive he had been until looking at the stats today. Villanueva leads the team in WARP. Milwaukee also must get better production from Richard Jefferson, a disappointment since coming over in a draft-day trade from New Jersey. I like the chances of that. Jefferson is making 44.0 percent of his two-point attempts; he’s been over 48.0 percent every year of his career save one and two-point percentage has a tendency to fluctuate randomly.
While Charlie Bell will presumably replace Redd in the starting five, I’d like to see Skiles make extensive use of the Luke Ridnour–Ramon Sessions backcourt that was effective during Redd’s previous absence. There’s a lot of talk about how Sessions should play more that is somewhat unfair to Ridnour, who has had a good season in his own right. Playing them together is the best way to get both the minutes they deserve.
Sidenote: When was the last time an NBA player as prominent as Redd suffered a torn ACL? We see maybe three or so ACL tears a year, but they’ve almost exclusively been the province of role players in recent years. Unless I’m missing someone obvious, Tom Gugliotta in 2000 seems to be the last semi-elite player to suffer the injury.