As the NBA season quickly approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focus on the Milwaukee Bucks, who last year had a record of 38-44 and did make the playoffs. They lost in the Conference Quarterfinals, 4-0, against the Miami Heat
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Coach: Larry Drew
General Manager: John Hammond
2012-2013 Record: 38-44
Place in Conference: 3rd
Leading Scorer: Monta Ellis (14.3 PPG)
Key Additions: SG O.J. Mayo, PG Brandon Knight, SF Caron Butler, SF Carlos Delfion
Key Loses: SG Monta Ellis, PG Brandon Jennings, SG J.J. Redick, SF Mike Dunleavy
A team that was stuck in the black hole of mediocrity finally (somewhat) crawled out of the depths of the “middle land” into playoff contention. After point guard Brandon Jennings, who was traded to the Detroit Pistons this offseason, declared that the Bucks would win their opening-round series against the Miami Heat in four (!) games, it was only right that the reigning champs would make quick work of Milwaukee and sweep them out of title contention. Now, poor Larry Sanders, one of the best shot blockers in the league, is going to have to deal with another team that just does not fit together, but is a weaker combination of talent. Mayo has the potential to be one of the most productive Bucks, but he’s just not efficient enough a shooter to lead Milwaukee. The team’s lengthy frontcourt of Sanders, John Henson and Greek rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo (who most likely won’t see much time this season), has potential to deny teams in the middle, but this team is nowhere close to creating any sort of chemistry with the talented players they have. Knight is not the person to be leading point for the Bucks, and losing two of the biggest offensive outputs is never a problem you want to be heading into the regular season with. Milwaukee could be one of the most ugly disasters of the 2013-14 season.
Strengths: Like I mentioned earlier, Milwaukee has the length (not even talking about height here) to really force opponents outside and bother opponents in man-on-man offense. The positive to losing Jennings and Ellis is that the number of shots taken by the backcourt will go down tremendously. A lot of people criticized for the low assist numbers that Knight had in Detroit, but that had a lot to do with the horrible perimeter shooting from the Pistons. Knight will still have plenty of opponents to work with down low, but if Mayo can be the player that Dallas fans saw glimpse of last shooting (over 40 percent shooting from three-point range), then this backcourt tandem will prove a lot fo people wrong. Henson will also be in his second season, so the development with a new Knight with a passing mentality will lead to the lanky former UNC player that the Bucks drafted. Other than that…there isn’t much that I like about this team at the moment.
Weaknesses: Other than the recent news of Ersan Ilyasova going down (that shouldn’t be too much of a problem and Henson will be able to fill right in), the Bucks just watched their team dissipate in the offseason despite sporting a roster with player that, although not flashy, can grind as hard as the Memphis Grizzlies. They just didn’t have the outside shooting or the discipline form their star players to ever amount to what Memphis has achieved in the past three or so seasons. But, with the news of Ilyasova going down, the depth at forward goes tremendously down. Carlos Delfino may miss the beginning of the season and Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton are not ready to step into a heavy-minutes role for the Bucks. Not having that depth to start the season is going to make things tough for the Bucks to start the season, as the Cavaliers and Pistons boosted the talent on their roster and the Bulls and Pacers will continue to compete at the top of the season. The Bucks ascent came at a time where Indiana and Chicago were much better suited for full-season basketball. The unattractiveness of the club sporting players with sub-par shooting percentages and little starting experience makes Milwaukee a possible candidate for most disappointing transition from season to season.
2013-2014 Season Predictions:
–The Bucks will win fewer games than last season, somewhere around 32 (they made the playoffs with 38 wins)
–Milwaukee will watch teams like Detroit, Cleveland and Washington rise past them in the playoff poll
–Larry Sanders will continue being one of the biggest middle threats in the NBA, even though he doesn’t get the respect he deserves
–Cleveland will sweep the Bucks this season, and that’s not my boldest statement of the year
–Knight and Mayo won’t find any sort of groove and have trouble coexisting
–This team will finish last in the conference after making the playoffs last season