After their breakout playoff season in 2010, the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves back in lottery land. It’s extremely disappointing; especially given that the ’09-’10 team had a young core that looked poised to make the franchise a fixture in the postseason.
This year, they were alive for the final playoff spot up until the season’s final week, but fell short. This offseason some major questions need to be answered:
Is Coach Scott Skiles returning?
Who is the alpha dog: Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis?
Who can step up like Ersan Ilyasova did this season?
First and foremost is the question about Skiles. Much like during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls, there comes a time when the ceiling is reached and the relationship has run its course. Then doesn’t mean it’s time to cut ties though. It could lead to a worse situation.
A great on the topic is from Behind the Buck Pass’ Jake McCormick:
Skiles has received quite a bit of flack over the past couple of years, both deserved (end of game play calling) and undeserved (on-court talent, having the same problems everyone does with Stephen Jackson). Still, he’s clearly a good coach in a bad situation, and he’s smart enough to recognize it.
If Skiles sticks around, or whoever is brought in to replace him will have to groom and develop the talent on the roster. And hope the young guys blossom into something special because Milwaukee has never really been a team to spend big money on big name free agents. And don’t expect that to change this year. They’ll need someone, maybe Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer, who received more garbage time minutes as the season ended, to make the leap like Ersan Ilyasova did this year.
“He’s done a good job of keeping it simple. He was getting into a lot of trouble taking ill-advised threes, pump faking when he should have shot it and shot it when he should have pump faked,” Skiles said of Ilysova.
“He hasn’t been looking for the 3-point line. Now if it comes to him and he’s at the three, he takes it. It’s something we’ve really encouraged him to do.”
Ilyasova averaged nearly a double double this season and finished third in the NBA in three point field goal percentage. Feb. 19 versus the New Jersey Nets he achieved just the third 25/25 game in franchise history. His 13 offensive boards were just two shy of the franchise record. It’s safe to say he’s made the leap.
In acquiring Monta Ellis in midseason, the Bucks now have two alpha dogs in the back court. So the question is which of the two shoot first and ask questions later guards are the go-to scorer/guy to take the final shot on this team?
I believe it’s Jennings. He’s the focus and the future; the franchise cornerstone.
Obviously, they’ll need him to stay healthy like he did this past season.
“Just to be able to play a whole season, I’m blessed, after last year with my broken foot,” Jennings said.
“My rookie year I played all 82, plus seven more, and this year to be healthy even though a lot of guys are getting hurt because of the lockout, it’s just a blessing.”
“It’s going to take wins. No matter what you do in this league, if you’re winning you;re going to get noticed. With us having and up and down season, it’s not just about me, it’s about the team. Cuz if we’re winning we’ll all get noticed around here,” Jennings said.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.