October 2, 2014

2008-09 NBA Preview: Milwaukee Bucks

See all 2009 NBA team previews

Milwaukee Bucks

2007-08 Record: 36-46

Cool 2007 StatAndrew Bogut has quietly become a very well-rounded player. Since 2000, the only players to average 14 pts, 9.5 rebs, 2.5 asts and 1.7 blks in a season are Shaq, Duncan, Garnett, Brand, Webber, Gasol and Bogut.

Anticipated Starting Five

PG- Luke Ridnour
SG- Michael Redd
SF- Richard Jefferson
PF- Charlie Villaneuva
C- Andrew Bogut

Bench: Tyronn Lue, Ramon Sessions, Joe Alexander, Charlie Bell, Dan Gadzuric

Biggest Strength – Wing Scoring

This is obvious.  With Jefferson and Redd on the team you know where at least 40% of the scoring is going to come from.  Add both Charlie Bell and Joe Alexander off the bench who are decent scorers in their own right, and it’s clear this team will be perimeter-oriented on offense.  In order for them to be successful, they can’t forget they have a 51% field goal shooter in the post.

Biggest Weakness – Defense

This was an easy one.  Opponents shot 48% from the field (worst in the league) against the Bucks and 38.4% (4th worst) from the three-point line.  They didn’t win the turnover battle either.  Their defense is horrendous to say the least.  That is exactly why they went out and hired defensive-minded Scott Skiles as their head coach.  Will he be able to get this collection of players to buy in on the defensive end?  I think so – to a degree.  Villaneuva had defensive potential if he wakes up and realizes he has the tools to be a solid player.  Bogut has shown improvement and is tough.  I think Michael Redd will have benefited from playing on the U.S. team and be motivated to take advantage of the time he has alongside Richard Jefferson.  He certainly isn’t great on defense, but I think his effort level on that side of the ball will be better this year. Richard Jefferson used to be very strong defensively when he first entered the league.  He has progressively gotten worse as he focuses almost exclusively on scoring.  The Bucks will need him to get back to his defensive ways.

Key Player in ’08 – Charlie Villaneuva

Last season was Villaneuva’s best on a per minute basis in scoring and rebounding.  He has to be the catalyst on defense.  That’s only going to happen if Skiles can light a fire under his ass and he pulls out maximum effort on that end of the floor.  Maybe the fact that he is in a contract year will help as well. He has the body and athleticism to be good on defense.  On offense he simply needs to be more efficient.  Hopefully Scott Skiles will drill into his head that he isn’t a three-point shooter.  There is absolutely no reason why he has taken over 2 three-point attempts per game in his three seasons.  In order for the Bucks to get out of the basement in the Central division, he needs to continue his improvement.

Their Thaddeus (exciting player 22 or under) – Joe Alexander, 21

Alexander is an interesting guy. He grew up in China, is fluent in Mandarin and struggled once moving to the states, saying, “It’s like America’s youth has this great inside joke, and if you don’t grow up here, you don’t get it.” His basketball life has been equally interesting. Playing as a guard his first 2 years at WVU, he showed athleticism and a decent shot but not much else. After Bob Huggins got his hands on him and turned him into a post-player, he became an all-Big East talent and a lottery pick. The key to his career will be whether or not he can continue to be a quick learner. He certainly has the athleticism for the job.

Pete’s 2008 Outlook: 5th place, Central division / 15th place, Eastern conference /29th place, NBA

The Bucks decided to emulate the Hawks fool-proof team building plan and stocked up on small forwards. First, they traded Yi Jianlian to the Nets for Richard Jefferson, then they used their 1st round pick on SF Joe Alexander, and their 2nd rounder on SF Luc Richard M’bah a Moute. Other than that, here’s why I don’t like this team this year: They downgraded significantly at point with Mo Williams out and Ridnour in. Jefferson doesn’t want to be there. Villaneuva is a worse version of Derrick Coleman, and their best player, Michael Redd, is very one-dimensional. Reasons they could be good? New coach Scott Skiles gets the defense going and Andrew Bogut breaks out. I’m not betting on it.

Dannie’s 2008 Outlook: 3rd place, Central division / 9th place, Eastern conference /18th place, NBA

I’m not as down on the Bucks as Pete is.  I think they upgraded their team as a whole with Richard Jefferson.  I like the addition of Joe Alexander and a solid role player in Francisco Elson.   As well as some defense and three-point shooting at the point with Tyronn Lue.  I think Richard Jefferson will pick up a lot of Mo Williams scoring.  The key will be Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson’s ability to not only create shots for themselves but also for the shooters that will be surrounding them (Lue & Jones).  Which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if Ramon Sessions, a proven distributor, ends up playing heavy minutes.  One major issue I can see is the lack of production behind Bogut and Villaneuva in the front court.  Whether Skiles can motivate and get buy in from his two best players on defense will decide whether my outlook or Pete’s will become reality.

Philly Connection Tyronn Lue
Tyronn Lue

Could have gone with Nova’s Malik Allen here, but instead I went with the player who I will always remember as the villain in my favorite Philly sport’s moment to date, the Sixers’ Game 1 win over the Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals. Iverson was unstoppable in this game, and the Lakers answered by putting the hand-checking Lue on him. Lue was able to slow down and frustrate Iverson for a bit, but Iverson destroyed him in overtime, puntuating it by hitting a 3, and then famously stepping over Lue’s sprawled out body (note: this shot almost killed Sixers’ radio guy Tom McCarthy). The Sixers won 107-101, and as I remember it, there were no more games played in that series.

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Comments

  1. Rob says:

    Milwaukee Bucks– great coach, okay team!

    Greatest strength(s):
    -Scott Skiles will hopefully change the culture of this soft team
    -Interesting pieces
    -Nice starting lineup offensively
    -Slightly better at home
    -Richard Jefferson, nice complement to Redd
    -John Hammond, the new GM and fmr assistant GM to Joe Dumars
     So far the moves have been good thus far, now we have to see the results!!

    -Potential
      Ramon Sessions (keep an eye out for him)
     Had a lot of high assist games last April  (the highest being 24 assists, not too far from matching Scott Skiles record of 30 in his playing days)
    Greatest weakness(es):
    -Soft team
    -Attitude (Villaneuva said the team didn’t play hard last year!)
    -Poor road team
    -Who is the point guard?  Ridnour or Sessions?
    -Defense
    -What is their identity?
    This team has potential and is capable of getting an eigth seed due to a poor Eastern conference, but there are other teams competing for that seed:
    -Atlanta Hawks
    -Miami Heat
    -Chicago Bulls
    -Milwaukee Bucks
    This team is an uncertain, but has potential because of Scott Skiles.  He did a great job of molding that Chicago Team into his personality and tenacity on the defensive end.  Will he do the same with the Bucks.
     
    The Bucks are going to be 4th in the Central Division, 11th in the East.
     
    (On a side note, the Sixers will be 3-1 against the Bucks.  Only one loss will be at Milwuakee for the Sixers.  Will the new AI dominate the Bucks like the old one, let’s hope so.  The Sixers fastbreak offense should be able to crush them, like we did last year!!)

  2. Morty says:

    That is so funny! I also do not remember any of the games in that 2001 finals – what happened? Did we win?

  3. Pete says:

    the Bucks were crushed yesterday by the Wolves in the first pre-season game of the year. Clearly, this vindicates my pick of wolves in the playoffs and the bucks as the 2nd pick in the draft. 

  4. Rob says:

    Yes, that’s true.  Even though it was a preseason game, the Bucks had to be disappointed to be beaten by THAT much.

    I just saw that the Celtics-Sixers preseason game will shown tomorrow on NBATV 7PM!!

  5. Dannie says:

    Hmmm – Bogut didn’t play, Tyronn Lue didn’t play, Jefferson played 8 minutes total and Redd played 19 minutes.  You keep fishing Pete. lol

  6. Ryan F says:

    I picked up Ramon Sessions last week on my fantasy squad, this kid was an all-out beast the last month of last season.  If Skiles has faith in him, and lets him start the year and build some confidence I could see this team sneaking into the playoffs.  I personally dont see any reason you would start Ridnour or Lue over him.  They arent going to get any better and this kids ceiling is sky high.  If he has the same effectiveness as last year I think this team could be a sleeper and a team no one would want to face in the first round.

  7. Dave T says:

    I’m more with Dannie then with Pete, and will even see his 9th seed and raise him one: The Milwaukee Bucks will make the playoffs and nab the final 8th spot. 

    Preseason games have always, and will always, mean absolutely nothing.  Kareem Rush can go 0-200 shooting 3′s in the preseason and he could still be a top 5 guy in the league in the year…starter’s minutes are cut in half, 1/4 the starters don’t even play, and the rotations are nothing like what they will be in the regular season.  It exists purely to allow coaches to get some reps in with offensive schemes, practice defensive rotations, and to experiment with different lineups.  But it’s nice to see the T-Wolves are still breathing after their horrible effort last year!

    Why I like the Bucks:

    -They are healthy.
    One of the top three most consistently injured teams the last few years.  They sign Bobby Simmons, he’s gone for two years.  Michael Redd has his best NBA season…gets injured, season over.  Bogut’s been hurt, Mo’s been hurt…Charlie V, everybody.  I don’t think they’ve gone longer then 25 games with their actual legit starting five in place.  Having these guys at 100% health will be huge.

    -Michael Redd/Richard Jefferson combo: Behind only T-Mac/Artest, DWade/Marion, and AI/Melo, pretty hard to argue the Redd/RJ combo is next best in the NBA.  RJ compliments Redd far better then VC, as Redd is a pure shooter, and VC is (or should be) mostly a slasher.  Michael Redd and RJ are also at similar points in their careers…they are around the 6 year mark, entering their prime, know all the veteran NBA tricks, and both have been part of dissapointing teams and desperately want to win.  I also think people severely underrate RJ’s versatility, especially his passing and setting teammates up…and how much Redd has learned the past two years from his Olympic experiences.  Redd has a better all around game then most people give him credit for…he moves great without the ball, has a much better senes of floor spacing, and has great shot selection vs. knowing when to give the ball up.

    -Andrew Bogut: This is the year he finally shuts his critics up.  I do not see this as a guy, like Kaman, who will tank the season after signing a big deal.  I think he feels a lot of pressure to live up to the #1 pick, and under a tough nosed guy like Skiles should blossom.  I also think given that Skiles is an excellent half court coach Bogut’s ast numbers will near the 4 mark, as he has excellent court vision.  I see him getting 15, 10 and 4 this year, a la vintage Brad Miller. 

    -PG situation: Not a strength, but it is interesting.  Michael Redd desperately needs to play with a better passing PG, which Mo Williams most certainly was not.  While Ridnour’s assist numbers have never blown anyone away, he is more of a true floor leader, and has a nice shot.  It will also give them some time to evaluate Ridnour, and if he doesn’t work out, you can just slide in Sessions at PG and pray his 10 apg to finish the season wasn’t a fluke.  Ridnour is also a cheap option for a starting point…7 (maybe 7.5?) mill a year is very reasonable.  Also, Ridnour was ALWAYS caught in a logjam with Watson in Seattle…he’s never gotten enough minutes to really show what he’s capable of.  When he has…he got injured. 

    -Skiles: He’s proven a great ability to give a true kick in the ass jumpshot to teams that need it.  Larry Krystkowiak was HORRIBLE choice of coach…he was not prepared, did not know how to handle the different egos and manage players on his team, and never cracked the whip.  He even acknowledged he had lost control of his own team.  If there’s one thing we know about Skiles, he will a commanding figure in the locker room.  That alone will provide more W’s, and his defensive mindset will have to rub off a little bit.

    -Joe Alexander/Forward spots: I think this guy is WAAAAAAY overhyped…but I don’t see the forward logjam people are talking about.  RJ is an all star level talent…he is going to get 35 mpg at SF.  Villanueva is starting to look more focused, he will probably get 28 mpg or so.  That leaves a good 20 mpg for Alexander to show what he can do.  They could also go smaller since they have Bogut in the middle, and play RJ at the 4 and Alexander at the 3, for a huge offensive and shooting lineup. 

    -Big weakness (defense aside): Bench. I agree with Dannie/Pete that Charlie Bell is a nice combo guard to have, and Ty Lue is a decent proven vet.  I also think Gadzuric is also a nice piece…whenever he logs regular minutes, he’s put up capable numbers and is a nice defensive presence.  Elson was a pretty good signing…but man, they have a HUGE hole in the bench at the SF/PF spots.  They need a defensive intimidator…without one they are very thin up front, especially considering Bogut isn’t the most physical guy on earth.

  8. da truf says:

    i met tyronn lue today! :D

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