Another NBA season, another mediocre Milwaukee Bucks team

bucks cheerleaders

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.

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Milwaukee Bucks at crossroads; Jennings’ team? Skiles staying?

brandon jennings bucks

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?

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Milwaukee Bucks get young guys playing time in season’s final games

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 a few days ago, but alas they’ll have to settle for ninth in the Eastern Conference.

They lost at home to the team directly ahead of them, the Philadelphia 76ers, who currently possess the final playoff spot. Still the Bucks finish the year 17-16, above .500 for the fourth consecutive year. In their 44 years of existence, the Bucks have had a winning record at home 37 times.

Since these final games in the lockout shortened 66 game season don’t mean much to the Bucks, it’s a chance for the young players to get playing time, grow and develop- like Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer.

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Milwaukee Bucks finally close out a win against the Sixers

Drew Gooden

AP Photo/Tom Mihalek

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and the Milwaukee Bucks have had considerable problems this season closing out teams good and bad.

Saturday night’s 93-87 overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers still featured the Bucks’ late game issues (0-6 in the final five minutes of regulation), with a twist ending where Milwaukee’s defense comes through with one of their best second halves of the season.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

It’s nothing personal, the Milwaukee Bucks were an embarrassment against the Kings

Carlos Delfino, Donte Greene

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

A record setting embarrassment against the Boston Celtics on the road is one thing. A back breaking defeat (on two days rest) at home to an NBA doormat on the verge of re-locating and playing without the face of their franchise is something else entirely.

There’s very few positive things to take away from the Milwaukee Bucks‘ 97-90 soul-crushing loss to the Anaheim Royals Sacramento Kings Wednesday night. As Wayne Larrivee, the voice of the Green Bay Packers, said four times this NFL season: “There is your playoff dagger.”

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

Injury to Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings comes at worst possible time

Brandon Jennings

By now you’ve probably already heard the devastating news regarding an already injury-plagued professional sports team in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings just had surgery to repair a fracture in his left fifth metatarsal and will be sidelined for four to six weeks.

Considering the amount of injuries to key players on the Milwaukee Bucks and Green Bay Packers roster, the Milwaukee Brewers may want to start attending as many churches, synagogues, Hindi churches, and mosques as possible.

By Jake McCormick

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Milwaukee Bucks make an early statement in blowout of Atlanta Hawks

Brandon Jennings

The night after the Milwaukee Bucks played their best all-around game of the young NBA season, they played their best all-around game of the young NBA season.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

Milwaukee Bucks impressively demolish New York Knicks

Andrew Bogut

The Milwaukee Bucks entered their Tuesday night home game against the New York Knicks with a heightened level of frustration with their offense. What transpired in their 107-80 win over the Knicks was something that cliches like “turning the corner” are made of.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

Bucks’ Brandon Jennings records triple double in win over Bobcats

Brandon Jennings

The Milwaukee Bucks‘ home opening win over the Charlotte Bobcats was one made of urgency, validation, and milestones. From center Andrew Bogut‘s return to normal to the bench’s overall lack of production, there was a lot to take from the Bucks first Bradley Center win of the 2010-11 NBA season.

For a breakdown of the Bucks win over the Bobcats, click here.

By Jake McCormick

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It’s Christmas Eve, Vinny Del Negro Fired Yet?

Bulls Del Negro

Tim Floyd in 2001, Scott Skiles in 2007. The Chicago Bulls fired two of the three men who preceded current Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on Christmas Eve. Is another Dickensian organizational move coming? Only Gar Forman and John Paxson know for sure. To say that Vinny is on the hot seat, especially after the Bulls just suffered their worst choke in franchise history; a 35 point loss at home to the lowly Sacramento Kings  who were at the end of a long road trip. It was the second biggest blown lead in NBA history. Seriously.

Either way Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to The Sports Bank family of contributors and readers.

Bucks Bet on Jennings and Meeks

bucks

By Thomas Lea

Brandon Jennings took a chance when he bypassed a scholarship to the University of Arizona and the spotlight of Pac-10 basketball over a year ago in favor of playing professionally in Italy. So, I guess it makes sense that the former top rated high school product from Oak Hill Academy wound up with a team taking a chance on him during Thursday’s annual NBA Draft.

While many had Jennings slipping on their draft boards, the Bucks apparently were not drinking that Kool-Aid and took him with the No. 10 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. Though Milwaukee had former Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn at the top of its draft board, general manager John Hammond and coach Scott Skiles went with Jennings after Flynn was taken at No. 6 by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With the pick, the Bucks have a high ceiling point guard with potential to be great. He is an absolute freak athletically and has the ability to utilize his superb quickness to get to the rim and finish or dish the rock to one of the multiple perimeter players the Bucks have in the lineup.

He possesses a decent shooting touch, although it will need to improve if he hopes to elevate his game to a higher level. He can be creative with the rock and get himself through sticky situations with above average ball handling skills that defenders will have to respect. And do not undersell the advantages Jennings will enjoy by playing for Skiles, who was a heck of a point guard in his days as a player during his lengthy career.

Though Jennings was not present at the moment the pick was made, he did make a grand entrance at Madison Square Garden a bit later and saluted the rowdy crowd. After he could not receive any sort of guarantee that he would be a lottery pick from interested teams, the prospect decided to take the safe route in favor of a potentially embarrassing fall down the draft board a la Brady Quinn or Aaron Rodgers and only showed up after he was picked in the top 10.milwaukee_bucks

When picked, and even before, the kid remained confident in his basketball ability and should play a prominent role in the Bucks rotation especially if the team runs into injury problems that have plagued them over the past few seasons.

After shipping Mo Williams to play with King James in Cleveland before the season began a year ago, point guard play was a bit erratic with a banged up Luke Ridnour and an inconsistent, but young, Ramon Sessions manning the position last season.

If anything, Jennings will be a solid and reliable backup in his first few seasons in the Association. And that role could be even greater should the Bucks part ways with Sessions who is a restricted free agent heading into the early July signing period, although that seems rather unlikely especially after the Bucks opened some cap space by trading away Jefferson.

Overall, for the No. 10 pick in a draft loaded with point guards, the Bucks secured one that could be a household name in the future. And that recognition could come sooner rather than later. Especially if the young player is able to chip in double figure scoring to a position that returns only one player (Ramon Sessions) that averaged over 10 points per game after Michael Redd went down with an injury and excluding the recently traded Jefferson’s numbers.

In the second round, a place where the Bucks have had great success in years past with the likes of Redd and Mbah a Moute, Hammond went with former Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks. Many will remember the 54 points the junior guard dropped on Tennessee, a Kentucky record, and for good reason. In short, the solidly built Meeks can flat out score. nba-draft11

What makes his game somewhat more impressive is his ability to score without creating his own shot. As a member of the Bucks, a team that features a great passing Andrew Bogut who loves to work it inside out and find players perched on the perimeter. Meeks, who is at his best as a catch and shoot guard, could be another shooter to coincide with a lethal Redd from distance. And if he ever develops a knack to find his own shot within himself, he could become another second round gem.

But with Charlie Bell, Keith Bogans, Luke Ridnour and newly acquired Salim Stoudamire already on the roster, Meeks will need to show he is capable of performing consistently at a high level in order to receive any consistent playing time. With his ability to score though, and at a position that has struggled in that department since trading away Mo Williams, I’m confident Skiles will find a way to get Meeks in the rotation.

With Jennings and Meeks comprising the 2009 draft class, the Bucks will have solid ball handlers that will space the floor and open things up inside for Andrew Bogut, Dan Gadzuric and the rest of the frontcourt. Teams will have to respect the quickness of Jennings and the sharp shooting of Meeks and that will prevent teams from doubling down on Bogut, which should help his game around the rim and open things up for penetration among the guards.

And with the wiggle room in the salary cap following the trade, the Bucks have a legitimate shot to re-sign one, if not both, of Sessions and Charlie Villanueva. By doing so, and with the new additions to the squad, the Bucks will have a legitimate core to make a run at one of the lower playoff seeds in 2009-2010 if (and a big if at that) the team can stay relatively healthy for the entirety of the season.