COACH: SCOTT SKILES
Last season, The Bucks crashed the NBA party after years of irrelevance. Rookie Brandon Jennings looked better than all but one of the 8 guys drafted ahead of him, Andrew Bogut at last developed into a double-double machine (and quite the shot-blocker), and they managed to steal John Salmons from John Paxson (Shocking, I know) to replace the injured (again) “franchise player” Michael Redd. All of that together euqualed 46 wins and an exciting 7 game play-off series against Atlanta.
Now comes the hard part, which is building on that first year of success.
So far, the off-season attempts to do so appear to be a mixed bag: Luke Ridnour, who thrived as Jennings’ back-up last year, is gone, replaced by journeymen Keyon Dooling and former Buck (lil) Earl Boykins. Conversely, they gave a 5 year contract to Drew Gooden and traded for Corey “bad porn” Maggette, both moves that can be considered risky at best. What it means is that Skiles will have to find a delicate balance between playing the “scorers” and the blue-collar guys like Luke M’bah Moute and Carlos Delfino. If he gets it right, this team will have ample scoring in the starting line-up and a potent bench. If he doesn’t, it’s gonna be the wild west, and not in a good way.
On the bright side, they have found themselves with a franchise cornerstone is the young Jennings, who displayed play-making AND scoring acumen in his first season, most notably by dropping 55 points against Golden State last November. Jennings struggled from the field as the season went on and teams forced him to shoot from long distance, but it appears the teams’ off-season moves were geared toward easing the offensive burden on Jennings. Also, the continued progress of Bogut was a good sign, especially considering the have him locked in until 2014. Combine that with the re-signing of Salmons, and it would appear they have an encouraging nucleus for the next several years.
Of course, that’s not even the best news.
Michael Redd is the best news. Or more succinctly, Redd’s 18 million dollar expiring contract, which they can use either as a valuable trade chip, or just let it expire and fall off the books to give them more financial freedom for next year. Thing is, this team has stumbled onto a future thanks to one great draft pick, and in spite of the fact that they’ve payed Redd 28 million to play one-third of their games the last two seasons. Making the right move with Redd’s expiring deal could really solidify the Bucks’ short term future; it’ll come down to how much money they are willing to spend.
Either way, this in an intriguing situation, and the upper-management and the coach appear to have their heads in the right place.
IF THEY GET LUCKY: Skiles gets the rotation right, they parlay Redd’s contract into some assets, and the team becomes a future Eastern Conference mainstay.
IF THEY DON’T: Corey Maggette’s ball freezing majesty sucks the entire franchise into a black hole, Jennings picks up his bad habit,s Bogut catches Redd’s injury bug. Ilyasova quits to pursue a career in Rap (OK, I made that one up).
REALITY: This team is poised for big deal status. All it’s really gonna take is a shrewd move or two (and GM John Hammond has already made several) and a little bit of luck. As for this season, 45-50 wins seems reasonsable. Hell, they might even win a playoff series. With any luck, that will only be the beginning.
IF THE BUCKS USED A LOTTERY PICK ON YOU IN THE LAST 15 YEARS, CHANCES ARE YOU WERE SHITTY
Sure, things are turning around under new managment, but here’s a list of Milwaukee’s lottery picks from 1995 til now:
1995-GARY TRENT-traded for #8 pick Shawn Respert, a midget shooting guard who flopped massively and was traded after less than two years.
1996-STEPHON MARBURY-4th pick–traded on draft day (again!) for someone who could actually play in the NBA (Ray Allen). Total fluke.
1998-DIRK NOWITZKI-9th pick-FINALLY, the Bucks drafted a superstar with their lottery pick!…
And then traded him, (say it with me) ON DRAFT DAY to Dallas for a really fat guy named Robert “Tractor” Traylor.
Alas, Tractor sucked as an NBA player, but went onto to acting fame in the 2009 box office smash, “Where The Wild Things Are”.
2002-MARCUS HAISLIP–13th pick- two seasons in Milwaukee, 4 pts a game, blah blah blah.
2008-JOE ALEXANDER-8th pick-lasted ONE SEASON, traded to Chicago, currently trying to make the Hornets roster.
You get the picture…