Thursday, October 15, 2009

To All The Raps We've Loved Before - Jermaine O'Neal & Roko Ukic


On this next episode of  "To All The Raps We've Loved Before" we feature former Raptors, Jermaine O'Neal and Croatian Sensation, "Roko B. Ware" Ukic.  And to update us on these ex-Raptors, we have David from Miami Heat blog, Peninsula Is Mightier for the latest on J.O. and Jeremy from Milwaukee Bucks blog, Bucksketball for an update on Roko Ukic.


Jermaine O'Neal, Miami Heat


J.O. was one of the reasons why Bryan Colangelo called the 08-09 Toronto Raptors the best Raptors roster "on paper" at the start of last season.  He was the big body that would help free up Chris Bosh from double teams and be that second option on the offense. Unfortunately, this didn't work out so well for Colangelo and the Raptors as J.O. didn't prove to be the savior we thought he would be.  At the trading deadline, Colangelo decided to correct his mistake of the O'Neal acquisition and  traded him and Jamario Moon to Miami for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.

Now, J.O. is fresh into a new season with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat as their starting centre.  I talked to David from Peninsula Is Mightier to give us his insight on J.O.'s role with the Heat:

J.O.'s role with the team 
"The signing of Jermaine O’Neal was very exciting for Heat fans because last year we were starved for a true center. Unfortunately, Jermaine couldn’t live up to the high expectations that came with his acquisition. The biggest problem that we had with O’Neal was his inability to rebound. In 33 games with the Heat he averaged only 5.2 boards/game.  Compare that to our two power forwards, Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley; Haslem averaged 8.2 rebounds/game and Beasley grabbed 5.4. The fact that Beasley averaged more points then O’Neal in less minutes was also concerning (13.9 for Beas, 13.4 for Jermaine)."
The Heat's expections of J.O.
"Leading into the season, hopes were high for a big season from O’Neal. He spent the summer working his butt off with Tim Grover, a trainer known throughout the NBA for his hard workouts and ability to get the most out of his trainees. He has worked with Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady and Dwyane Wade, just to name a few.
I see O’Neal as a big wild card in regards to how the Heat will do this season. We have a couple solid backups behind him, but nobody wants to see Joel Anthony or Jamaal Magloire starting. Jermaine came into training camp in great shape, but has been slowed by a minor foot injury.
He’ll be fine to start the season, but I’m not sold on the ‘new and improved’ O’Neal. We know the talent has been there in the past, it’s just unclear what the Heat will get from him on a consistent basis."
What the fans think of Jermaine
"As far as how the fans perceive him, I think they are still in ‘wait and see’ mode as well. The savvier Heat fan realizes that this season is just a bridge to get us to the offseason, where the plan is to bring in a couple big name free agents and build a championship contender, so while it’d be great for Jermaine to regain his all-star form, nobody is going to jump off any buildings if he doesn’t.
However, there are always those fans who want to win regardless of the big picture, and those fans are probably holding O’Neal on a short leash after his inconsistent play last year. It doesn’t help that in his only preseason game thus far, he recorded only 1 rebound in 21 minutes, and that came in the first 30 seconds of the game.

The Heat have a couple games this week that O’Neal is expected to play in, so hopefully we’ll get a better idea of where he is at. The preseason is only halfway and I’m sure Jermaine will improve from what we have seen thus far (you would hope so considering all the work he put in over the summer), but I ask you this: Has he reached the point in his career where it’s unreasonable to think of him as a 15-10 kinda guy?"
Roko Ukic, Milwaukee Bucks

Some Raps fans loved him.  Some Raps fans hated him. "Rockin' Roko!" (as Matt Devlin loved to annoyingly call him) now sports the Milwaukee Bucks uniform alongside former Raptor, Carlos Delfino.  Roko had a few shining moments while with the Raptors last season including a game winner against the Spurs.  But aside from those moments, he was terribly inconsistent as a backup point guard.  Colangelo wasn't sold on him at season's end and decided to shop for a new backup point guard during the offseason (acquiring Jarret Jack).  Now in Milwaukee, Roko's on a new team, trying to crack the rotation.  Jeremy at Bucks blog, Bucksketball helped us to give us the skinny on what's new and exciting with Roko Mocha Latte or The Croat Poet or whatever you 'd like to call him:
"As the season has begun to take shape the buzz about the Bucks is that they are three deep at every position. After a fairly poor adjustment season from Europe to the NBA last year, Roko Ukic was at best a question mark heading into this season and so far little has happened to remove that particular punctuation from him. Ukic chipped in five assists in the Bucks most recent game, but has done little in his playing time thus far to set himself up for any playing time this year. At this rate, Luke Ridnour and Brandon Jennings will split time at the point with Charlie Bell likely getting the third point minutes in the event they are available.
With the offense being largely a question mark, the Bucks have little margin for error on that end of the floor. While Ukic has the length and apparent quickness to be an effective defensive point guard, he's far too inefficient offensively to see any serious time this year barring injury to Ridnour or Jennings. Ukic struggled mightily from beyond the arc last year, an area the Bucks are going to need their point guards in. John Hollinger suggests the D-League and possibly a new position for Ukic and I see little reason to disagree.

So, yeah, Bucks fans aren't all that high on him."
Big shoutouts to Dave @ Peninsula Is Mightier and Jeremey @ Bucksketball.com for their time to talk to us.  

In case you missed it, check out To All The Raps We've Loved Before - Jamario Moon & Anthony Parker.

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Hip Hoop Junkies, a Toronto Raptors / NBA / Canada Basketball blog based out of Halifax. Home of the #RAPSTALK Podcast - "Hoops Talk out of Halifax"

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