The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders. There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.
With just one winning season in the past eight years, mediocrity is considered success for the Milwaukee Bucks. Getting to the five hundred mark this season would be a win and might be enough to get the team into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
2011-12: 31-35, 9th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 9th
Projected Depth Chart:
C: Drew Gooden/Samuel Dalmbert/Larry Sanders/Joel Przybilla
PF: Ersan Ilyasova/Ekpe Udoh/John Henson
SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute/Mike Dunleavy/Tobias Harris
SG: Monta Ellis/Marquis Daniels/Doron Lamb
PG: Brandon Jennings/Beno Udrih
Milwaukee’s off-season was: pretty boring. They added some needed size inside by dealing a few role players to Houston for Samuel Dalembert, signing the well-traveled Joel Przybilla, and draft John Henson. They also ponied up $40 million over five years to re-sign Ersan Ilyasova who was coming off a career year. Other than that, Milwaukee remained relatively quiet this summer.
2012-2013 will be a success if: “Fear the Dear” returns. That was the slogan during the team’s 2009-10 season when they nearly upset the Hawks in the opening round of the playoffs. Professional basketball actually became relevant again in the city of Milwaukee but the past two seasons, things have return the normalcy of the Bucks being a less than average team.
For Milwaukee to get over the hump and into the postseason, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis must lead the way in the backcourt while getting solid contributions from Ilysova, Drew Gordon, and Mike Dunleavy. The defensive effort, which is typically a staple of any Scott Skiles coached team, has to improve which is why the team added Dalembert and Henson as hopeful shot blocking bodies inside and let Carlos Delfino walk. Not giving up fourth quarter leads which they did far too often a year ago would help the cause as well.
2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: nothing changes. Small market teams are clearly at a disadvantage in this modern day NBA. Teams like Milwaukee must build their roster through the draft and smart trades since they can’t convince any big name free agent to join their team. GM John Hammond has experimented with his team’s makeup several times in the past few seasons and still just cannot get the Bucks to be anything more than a mediocre team. This current roster at best will finish .500 so Hammond must continue to be open to changing things up and trying to make a savvy trade or two that can at least get Milwaukee to be a dangerous lower seed come playoff time.
Looking ahead to next summer: Plenty of change could be on the horizon with Ellis holding a player option on the final year of his deal and Jennings becoming a restricted free agent (and reportedly very open to leaving Milwaukee, shocking huh?) Beno Udrih, Dalembert, and Dunleavy will all be free agents while the organization will have to make decisions on the team options for Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders’ rookie contracts.
While that would clear out a good amount of cap space, Milwaukee is by no means a hot spot for NBA free agents to land so it will be interesting to see if the Bucks try to deal some of their expiring contracts prior to the trade deadline for a proven veteran who can possibly help catapult them into a playoff spot rather than having to overpay some free agents in the summer to get and upgrade their lineup.
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 and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)