NBA Preview - Milwaukee Bucks
2010 was a hell of a year for the Milwaukee Bucks. They finished 10 games above .500 as they made the playoffs led by rookie sensation Brandon Jennings. The team went to seven games after being eliminated in the first round, thus ending their longest postseason run since 2001. Many people assumed big things were coming for the Bucks as the NBA learned to fear the deer. Unfortunately, the team regressed and has since gone through a makeover. Their former number one overall pick Andrew Bogut is gone. Monta Ellis is in. Two small scoring guards in Brandon Jennings and Ellis are running things. This could get interesting.
The Bucks decided to trade their oft-injured center to the Golden State Warriors to acquire Monta Ellis. Ellis has always been able to score in bunches but his game is lacking in all other aspects. He’s not much of a distributor, doesn’t grab that many rebounds and plays suspect defense at best. I just don’t think he’s a player that you can build your team around and expect to go far in the NBA – especially when the PG on the team is Brandon Jennings who plays a very similar game as Ellis. All other Bucks on the floor better look to crash the boards because they’ll be lucky to touch the ball when these two are on the floor together.
It feels like Drew Gooden has been around forever, doesn't it? He's only one year removed from 30 and still qualifies as a solid NBA player. His double-doubles are few and far between, but his jump shot is still reliable. Luc Mbah a Moute, despite having one of the funniest names in the history of the NBA, is still able to fly under the radar in the NBA world. His defense is more than solid - it's often quite good. He's got no offensive game to speak of, but when you share the court with Jennings and Ellis, you don't need one.
Ersan Ilyasova surprised a lot with his play in Milwaukee a season ago. An even 13 points per game was a career high and he also finished just under nine rebounds a game. If Milwaukee were smart, they'd look to further this young Turkish player's skills and solidify him as part of the team's future. It'd be a shame to see him become lost in the shuffle, but it's very possible. Samuel Dalembert was brought in from Houston to put a band-aid on the loss of Andrew Bogut. He's not the big man of the future for Milwaukee, but rather, the one of the now. Larry Sanders could become part of the future if he gets his head on straight and harnesses all his athleticism to convert it into true NBA talent. He's a work in progress, the very definition of one. Hardly a sure thing.
One of the more valuable players on this team is also the most underrated. With Jennings and Ellis running the floor for the Bucks, things are sure to get out of control at times. They'll need someone to step up and settle things down and bring them all back down to earth. Veteran guard Beno Udrih is there to do just that. The two time NBA champion is exactly what this team needs to lead them into the future as they try to make all these pieces fit.
John Henson and Doron Lamb are the team's two rookies coming into the season. Henson was selected in the first round with the 14th pick and Lamb in the second round with the 42nd pick. Henson doesn't figure to be a high impact rookie, more so somebody Milwaukee will have to develop over the next couple seasons. Lamb will have to fight to crack himself into the rotation.
Nobody fears the deer anymore. The team had their chance to establish themselves as playoff contenders in the East the past two seasons after their breakout in 2010 and failed to do so. The roster has been revamped, coaches have been removed and a new philosophy is in place. Focusing your team on offense utilizing dynamic guards with little to no defense to speak of will likely lead to very bad things for the Bucks. They may put up 110 points a game, but they’ll give up 120 to go along with it.
Season Outlook: Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis become one of the highest scoring duos in the league, but the Bucks have one of the worst defenses leading to them never being in the playoff discussion.
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