Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bucks Sign Ruffin

The Bucks have signed vetern forward Michael Ruffin to a one-year deal. The 30-year old Ruffin played the past three seasons in Washington, where he was a defensive specialist playing mostly as a PF. Larry Harris told the JS this week the team was serious about paying more than just "lip service" to defense this year, and the Bucks last three signings--Royal Ivey, Charlie Bell, and Ruffin--all reflect that. But while Bell is also good enough on the offensive end to justify rotation minutes, Ivey and Ruffin will face more of an uphill battle. Both players are well below average offensively, and John Hollinger points out Ruffin might actually the be the worst offensive player in the NBA.

There's really no overstating how useless Ruffin is offensively -- he won't score unless he's wide open for a dunk, and even then you're crossing your fingers. But he does manage to contribute in other ways. Ruffin is a physical and quick defender who can play both frontcourt positions. However, center is a stretch for him at 6-8 because his size becomes such a liability against big post players. Because he's not a scoring threat, he also works very hard on the offensive glass and earns nearly half his boards at that end. The rare occasions when he catches a rebound above the rim and dunks it account for a big chunk of his scoring.
At the moment the Bucks' camp roster stands at 17, meaning they'll have to cut at least two players before the regular season starts, assuming they don't sign anyone else. Angelo Reyes is a camp invitee without a guaranteed contract, so unless Ruffin is also NG'ed AND Reyes outplays Ruffin in camp, it seems unlikely that Reyes would stick. Gery Woelfel mentioned on Friday Ivey's contract is guaranteed while second round pick Ramon Sessions' is not, so as of now Sessions will be battling for a roster spot. Personally I'd probably prefer to hang on to the younger Sessions rather than Ivey, who's already had a few seasons to prove himself. Sessions is also eligible to play in the D-League, whereas Ivey is not.

Last season the Bucks started the regular season with 14 players, but it seems like 15 is a better bet this year given the number of guaranteed contracts. Here's a very loose depth chart going into camp, assuming every player has to be pegged to only one position:

PG: Mo Williams, Lynn Greer, Royal Ivey, Ramon Sessions
SG: Michael Redd, Charlie Bell, Awvee Storey
SF: Bobby Simmons, Desmond Mason, David Noel
PF: Charlie Villanueva, Yi Jianlian, Michael Ruffin, Angelo Reyes
C: Andrew Bogut, Dan Gadzuric, Jake Voskuhl

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