Tweet of the Night: Tracy McGrady rips Milwaukee Bucks for being such a bad team

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Milwaukee BucksPrior to the start of this season, there were some who believed the Milwaukee Bucks had enough talent on the roster to be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

44 games later, they sit with an 8-36 record – the worst in the NBA – and is the only team that has yet to reach double-digit victories. Most of their offseason moves have failed to make a difference, and there appears to be much general discontent in the locker room about the situation. Here are some of the issues they have dealt with, among other things:

Bernucca: Fixing the Fans’ All-Star Mistakes

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Kyrie IrvingNBA fans do an awful job of protecting the image of their favorite sport.

This is not the NFL, which has been America’s pastime for a generation and can do no wrong in the eyes of its fans. The only time the NFL has an image problem is when a storm affects satellite reception.

This is also not baseball, which has a considerable image problem with its collection of prima donnas on PEDS. But it also has more than a century of tradition on its side.

NBA fans constantly have to argue the merits of their sport not only against other sports but against other versions of their sport. The international game is more fluid. The college game has more energy and emotion. The women’s game has more fundamentals.

So what do NBA fans do to cultivate and protect the image of their favorite sport? They ignore common sense and vote their darlings as All-Stars.

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Familiar Names Highlight Most Improved Player Rankings

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Reggie_JacksonImagine for a second that this column is a talk show.

It’s easy if you try.

Now, imagine I told you that Isaiah Thomas and Reggie Jackson were going to be on it. Imagine all the people who would watch that show.

Yoo-hoo, oooh.

You’d be pumped, right?

Isiah Lord Thomas. Zeke. One of the greatest basketball players in history. And Reggie Jackson. Mr. October. The man who hit three home runs in a World Series game?!

What a show we’ve got for you tonight! 

You’d be glued to the TV. Or, at least, you’d DVR it.

And then your face would sink slowly as you realized that I didn’t mean “Bad Boy Pistons” Isiah Thomas. I meant “Pizza Guy” Isaiah Thomas. I didn’t mean “Straw that Stirs the Drink” Reggie Jackson, just “Russell Westbrook backup” Reggie Jackson.

What is this, the Pete Holmes Show??

That’s what this edition of the Most Improved Player Rankings feels like – The Pete Holmes Show. Or at least, Tavis Smiley.

Normally, this is the spot where NBA players make names for themselves, arriving on the Sheridan Hoops stage before they are recognized by the national hoops media at large. Paul George did that last season.

But this season, some guys are making the same name somebody else already made. Thomas isn’t Zeke, but he is playing like a guy Zeke would trade six consecutive draft picks for.

Jackson may not be the Straw that Stirs the Drink, but he could be the Splenda that makes the 27-7 drink taste a little better. (I don’t know. I haven’t had my coffee yet).

Both namesake point guards have energized their teams and accounted for nearly as many TV double-takes as an Andre Drummond throwdown. Thomas has taken over as Sacramento’s full-time starter, averaging 19.3 points and six assists. He’s been the Kings’ most important player this season, and is one of the reasons for hope in the future.

Jackson filled in when Westbrook was hurt at the beginning of the season and again now that Westbrook is out until at least the All-Star break. He has continued to play with confidence, putting up 27 points in Sunday’s home win over Boston. He has added some much-needed backcourt depth to a team that can be too one-dimensional at times. There’s no way OKC has the best record in the West without him.

You may say I’m a dreamer.

But they’re not the only ones.

Anyway, it’s time for our musical guest. You guessed it…John Le…gend. Sorry, I hit the ellipses button there.

That’s our column for you. Goodnight everybody!

On to the rankings.

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Bernucca: Memo to Mitch Kupchak: Stop Haggling and Start Tanking

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Mitch Kupchak shouldn’t be playing hardball. kupchak

In his desire to trade Pau Gasol, the GM of the Los Angeles Lakers should not have insisted on receiving Dion Waiters or a first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody has overpaid for a rental since Ernie Grunfeld sent Ray Allen to Seattle for Gary Payton — and that was a long time ago.

Kupchak should have lowered his demands to match the team’s expectations. The Lakers are done for this season and should be singularly committed to one agenda: Making sure this rare down period for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises doesn’t last more than one season.

Kupchak should be tanking.

Some of the telltale signs already are in place. The Lakers have a bloated payroll of aging, overpaid players, almost all of them on expiring contracts. Injuries to their stars have hampered their ability to compete on their customary high level. They already are fading fast in the Western Conference playoff race.

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Most Improved Player Rankings: Drummond Still a Bright Spot for Dreary Pistons

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Andre DrummondAs the sun sets over 2013, and the meters of our lives continue to run inexorably with no quarter slots, there is one thing in this crazy world that we can know for sure.

Andre Drummond is balling, dude.

Though the rest of his Pistons teammates seem to be lost in an existential paradigm (What’s the point of playing defense; we’re all just going to die anyway?), Drummond has taken control of his destiny as much as one can in our world.

He’s become a double-double machine (again, without quarter slots), averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds and shooting dunking 61 percent from the floor. He ranks 18th in Player Efficiency Rating at 21.90 and has become the only consistent force on a team whose talent clearly exceeds its paltry 14-19 record.

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