What the Milwaukee Bucks can do this off-season to move past mediocrity


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It has been more than a decade since the Milwaukee Bucks have been a real threat in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.  The team has lacked the star power to compete with other teams.  The Bucks enter the off-season looking for a few pieces to try and get the team back into the playoffs.

Milwaukee Bucks (31-35 last year)

2011-12 Season Summary:
The Bucks were grasping onto slim playoff hopes late in the season but couldn’t get the job done and finished ninth in the Eastern Conference.  Missing out on the post-season for a second straight didn’t cost head coach Scott Skiles or general manager John Hammond their jobs though as the duo will return to Milwaukee next season.

The biggest development of the season was the team dealing former number one overall pick and injury-riddled center Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis.  The trade added more offense and athleticism to the team while taking away some of their defensive aggressiveness.  The deal also sent Stephen Jackson packing as his brief stint in Milwaukee proved to be a disaster.  Ellis combined with Brandon Jennings to create a quick, explosive though undersized backcourt that was too streaky at times.

Ersan Ilyasova took a major step forward providing the Bucks with a face-up four who could stretch the floor with his three-point shot and also bring solid energy to the floor.  Veterans like Drew Gooden, Carlos Delfino, Mike Dunleavy, Beno Udrih, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played their roles but the team overall lacked the star power and toughness inside to get over the hump and into the postseason.

2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Drew Gooden/Larry Sanders
PF: Ekpe Udoh/Jon Leuer/Jon Brockman
SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute/Mike Dunleavy/Tobias Harris
SG: Monta Ellis/#Shaun Livingston
PG: Brandon Jennings/*Beno Udrih

NBA Free Agents:
*PG-Beno Udrih (PO)
#G-Shaun Livingston (TO)
PF-Ersan Ilyasova (UFA)
SF-Carlos Delfino (UFA)
C-Kwame Brown (UFA)

2012-13 Team Salary: approximately $38.2 million

Team Needs:
1. Center:
In trading Andrew Bogut, the Bucks have a hole in the middle for a true center.  Drew Gooden filled that void admirably after Bogut was dealt but is best suited at power forward.  Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh can play some five but are more lengthy, athletic fours so Milwaukee needs to add a true center who can bang around inside and bring some more scoring to the table since Udoh and Sanders are more defensive-minded players.

2. Small Forward:
With Carlos Delfino a free agent, the Bucks will be looking to add a starting caliber small forward.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Mike Dunleavy are quality role players but really shouldn’t be starting in the league.  Tobias Harris is still unproven so he probably isn’t the answer either.

3. Guard Decisions:
With Brandon Jennings becoming a restricted free agent after next season and Monta Ellis having a player option on his contract for 2013-2014, the Bucks should try to sign both guys to extensions if they think each player is part of their future.  Milwaukee is not a hot spot destination for free agents so both guys might be inclined to test the market and eventually leave Milwaukee high and dry.

4. Re-sign Ilyasova?:
Coming off his breakout season, Ilyasova hits free agency at the perfect time to cash in on a big contract.  The question for Milwaukee becomes; how much should they offer the versatile power forward?  He certainly will be due anywhere from six-nine million dollars per year but was he just a one-hit wonder or an improving talent who will be worth the investment?

OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
BROOKLYN NETS
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
DETROIT PISTONS
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
SACRAMENTO KINGS
TORONTO RAPTORS
WASHINGTON WIZARDS

CLICK HERE FOR THE SPORTS BANK’S 2012 NBA MOCK DRAFT

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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