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News » BUCKS Showing his value Warrick, with something to prove, leads team in scoring this preseason

BUCKS Showing his value Warrick, with something to prove, leads team in scoring this preseason

BUCKS  Showing his value  Warrick, with something to prove, leads team in scoring this preseason By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Allen Iverson joined the Memphis Grizzlies for $3 million late in the off-season, amidst plenty of media speculation and hoopla.

Now the 34-year-old Iverson already is out of the Memphis lineup for an extended time due to a partial tear in his left hamstring.

In a much quieter off-season transaction in National Basketball Association circles, forward Hakim Warrick signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks , after the Grizzlies withdrew their qualifying offer to the former Syracuse star.

Warrick's signing could be a steal for the Bucks , if he can continue the steady play he has produced over the first five exhibition games.

He leads the team in scoring (17.8 points per game) and rebounding (6.8) and is shooting 59% from the field and 77% at the foul line, while taking a team-high 44 free-throw attempts.

"He's got the ability to get fouled," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "We knew that when we signed him, and so far that's held true. He can also face up and make shots, and he's got a nice little driving game.

"He can really run the floor. He's a guy still figuring out where we need him to be on the defensive end all the time, but it's certainly not due to a lack of effort or anything like that.

"He's been locked in, a very solid pickup for us, for sure."

The 6-foot-9 Warrick played primarily off the bench for the Grizzlies last season, but he still averaged 11.6 points and 5.0 rebounds while appearing in all 82 regular-season games.

So it was a bit of a jolt when the Grizzlies let him become an unrestricted free agent.

"Just being in this profession, you always want to have something to prove, no matter what," Warrick said. "You look at the greatest, Michael Jordan. He always had something to prove, and he was the best player that walked the face of the earth.

"I definitely want to go out there and show that it was a mistake and I'm a really good player."

Warrick was taken by Memphis with the 19th pick in the 2005 draft.

"I'm not going to say it was shocking. It's just being there all four years and I expected to re-sign," he said. "It was kind of disappointing."

Warrick started for the first time in the Bucks' 87-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at the United Center, and he responded in the same manner he has displayed in a reserve role.

The 27-year-old scored a team-high 25 points while hitting his midrange jumper and getting to the foul line (7 of 9), and he added six rebounds before fouling out in the game's final minute.

He admitted being in the starting lineup requires him to approach his job a bit differently.

"Instead of guys getting tired and you're coming in fresh, when you come in as a starter, it's you out there trying to get a second wind," Warrick said. "It's a little tougher. But I'm still just trying to come in and provide a lot of energy."

Skiles said he will try to use a more regular-looking lineup in the Bucks' final three exhibition games, beginning Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Bradley Center. One of the interesting decisions will be how he opts to use Warrick.

Even if Warrick comes off the bench, he's sure to get plenty of minutes at power forward, in a combination with veteran Kurt Thomas and 22-year-old Ersan Ilyasova.

"I'm getting comfortable out there," Warrick said. "I have to become a little more consistent both offensively and defensively. The coaches have been talking to me about getting in a stance to react quicker."

The Bucks lost their first two exhibition games but have played better in the last three, winning two (over Chicago and Houston) before losing narrowly to the Bulls. Slowly, new teammates are getting to know each other and Skiles' system.

Despite shooting a measly 37% on Tuesday, the Bucks had several chances to win the game in the final seconds.

"Since our first game, we've come a long way," Warrick said. "We're scrappy. If we can go out there and compete like that for 48 minutes, we can compete with anybody."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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Added: October 16, 2009


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