A Milwaukee Bucks offseason of intrigue (plus, I join a new blog!)

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Scott Skiles

The Milwaukee Bucks have come a long way since April 15, 2010, and the path more resembled a float down the River Styx than a stroll down a yellow brick road.

Injuries, ineffectiveness and the possession of less chemistry than actors in a SyFy original movie were the main catalysts giving the Bucks their sixth trip to the NBA Lottery in the last 10 years.

By Jake McCormick

Obviously, three generalized terms don’t provide sufficient insight into why John Salmons posted career low shooting numbers as a starter, or how Brandon Jennings took steps forward as a point guard (contrary to popular belief). To read that type of Bucks offseason analysis, you’ll have to head over to my new Milwaukee Bucks blogging location at We’re Bucked.

I’ll be joining Kevin Coulliard at We’re Bucked to provide all the Bucks coverage you could want throughout the upcoming offseason and beyond. It’s been a great two years at The Sports Bank, and this post on the Bucks strengths and weaknesses that require offseason latency/attention will be my last. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my new blog.

The Milwaukee Bucks have:

A top notch defensive system.

As strange as this sounds, the Scott Skiles defense was better this season than it was in 2009-10, at least when it comes to the basic goal of preventing the opponent from scoring (92.7 ppg in 2010-11, 96 ppg in 2009-10).

A large part of that success stems from Andrew Bogut’s growth as a dominant defensive center. However, NBA defensive success is very amoeba-like in nature and predicated on how well all five players can rotate and help each other as needed.

It’s a safe bet that any move John Hammond makes will not crack the foundation of the Bucks’ extremely successful defensive system. After all, if Corey Maggette couldn’t do it, who can?

A supposedly healthy starting lineup.

Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Drew Gooden, and Andrew Bogut are projected to start if/once the 2011-12 NBA season begins. Coincidentally (or not), all four battled significant injuries throughout the season and rarely shared the court for more than a handful of games at a time.

This core mixture of developing players and established veterans was expected to push the Bucks to and possibly past their 46 win total from last year, despite the fact that teams without a proven superstar need time to build chemistry. From John Salmons’ knee injury at the beginning of training camp, Milwaukee’s starters were never able to develop a feel for each other on the court.

Provided Bogut’s arm goes the route of many Tommy John surgery recipients (the second year is always stronger than the first), and the rest of the team is healed sufficiently, the 2011-12 season (pending a lockout) will absolutely be better for the Milwaukee Bucks and their fans.

The Milwaukee Bucks need:

Offense, And A Lot Of It

Brandon Jennings’ assist numbers declined from his rookie to sophomore season (5.7 to 4.8), but it isn’t entirely his fault that a good pass ceases to be an assist if the shot is missed. Among other things, the Bucks ranked dead last in points scored (92.9) and offensive efficiency (99), so it’s only a natural correlation that team assists plummet.

The Bucks will most likely be looking to sign and/or draft a shooting guard or small forward, as 80% of their starting roster is filled with the exception of the small forward position. Of course, that could depend on their decision to keep Carlos Delfino and whether GM John Hammond can con a team into taking Corey Maggette. But Milwaukee’s offensive issues expanded far beyond an inability to hit an open mid-range shot.

Simply put, the Bucks shot 57.9% at the rim this season, good enough for 30th in the NBA, and attempted 22.3 shots inside (23rd overall). Part of this can be attributed to Bogut’s Def Leppard-like shooting deficiency, but Milwaukee wing players, namely John Salmons and Corey Maggette, were never comfortable finishing in traffic despite their career-long effectiveness in that area.

To Resign Luc Mbah a Moute

The Bucks have a team option for Carlos Delfino, a qualifying offer for Chris Douglas-Roberts that won’t be explored, and Luc Mbah a Moute, Michael Redd, and Earl Boykins poised for free agency. Of those five players, Mbah a Moute deserves the most serious consideration for an extension.

The constant mention of Luc Mbah a Moute’s ability to defend four positions has been a running joke among Bucks bloggers for the last two seasons, but that’s the strongest reason to retain the 6’9” forward. Mbah a Moute has also found an offensive niche as a decent off-the-ball cutter and sneaky rebounder, manifesting into a career-high eight double-doubles in 2010-11. He had seven total career double-doubles before this season.

There are a lot more “have nots” than “haves” on John Hammond’s offseason to-do list, and the team’s lack of cap space will certainly make for an interesting three months sans Milwaukee Bucks basketball.

Follow Jake on Twitter, and continue following his Milwaukee Bucks musings and coverage.

Comments

  1. Congrats on the new opportunity Jake!

  2. paulmbanks says

    congrats on the new gig! loved the simpsons reference in here

  3. Peter Christian says

    Awesome news, Jake. Good luck!

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