Note: This is the first in a series of posts previewing the Milwaukee Bucks 2010-11 season, their newest players, emerging leaders, and overall expectations.
The Milwaukee Bucks‘ Media Day on Monday saw at least double the swarm of reporters from last year, and that’s as good of an indication as any of the heightened expectations and notoriety the Bucks face as they begin training camp for the 2010-11 season.
After all the schedule examinations, statistical predictions, and offseason trade, draft and free agency analysis, the key has officially been turned to start warming the engine on the Milwaukee Bucks 2010-11 season.
By Jake McCormick
Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks were expected to finish in the same class as the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets as a team in long term rebuilding mode willing to take on expiring deals and let their young stars learn to sink before swimming with the big fish of the NBA.
Lacking a proven go-to scorer and leader, the Bucks regularly faced questions of what the team needed to do to be successful two to three years down the road. Now, coming off a 46 win 2009-10 campaign and an Andrew Bogut freak injury away from playing in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the questions surrounding the Milwaukee Bucks are ones reserved for defending division champions and playoff contenders.
Every team goes into training camp with knowns and unknowns, and to quote a previous post inspired by the one and only Donald Rumsfeld, known unknowns. Unknowns in the NBA include other teams’ performances and injuries. Don’t try to control what you simply can’t control.
But two of the biggest known unknowns that were prevalent in any question asked Monday of the Milwaukee Bucks are how they will find playing time for a roster that has at least 12 legitimate NBA contributors and how the team will deal with their surprising success last year.
“We’re welcoming that pressure; we haven’t come into a season saying we’re division champs for a while,” Bogut said. “Take that in stride, and you have to be humble in it, but in the same sense we have to have a little bit of cockiness about it.
“We have a little notoriety and a lot of attention, so teams are going to try and see what that’s all about, have to keep playing and do what we did last year, keep being a defensive minded team.”
The sorting of playing time will typically come to light naturally, as head coach Scott Skiles pointed out, but if it doesn’t someone will undoubtedly be unhappy.
“More nights than not there are going to be a couple guys out of the mix that don’t really deserve to be out of the mix,” Skiles said. “If (things don’t sort themselves out), then we’ve got guys that aren’t playing but still probably deserve it. That means we’re having a heck of a year.”
All of the new Milwaukee Bucks said all the right things about this potential problem, but it will remain to be seen whether they follow through when the crunch for playing time finally arises.
Rarely is an NBA roster consistent year to year, and chemistry questions are always going to come up when seven players are new to the city and team. But Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut said the newest Milwaukee Bucks have a collectively high basketball IQ, which helps speed up the process.
“It’s a tough situation when you have a lot of changes to a team,” center Andrew Bogut said. “Sometimes things take longer than they should, sometimes they take shorter than they should. It just depends on how guy’s basketball IQs are.”
There’s no doubt the ceiling to start 2010-11 is much higher than in many years past, but Scott Skiles, in typical Scott Skiles coach-speak, is well aware of the challenges that lay ahead for a team that is now dealing with their highest expectations since the early 2000s.
“Other than Boston, going from 23 wins, getting KG and winning a title, it’s a process,” Skiles said. “The first step of it is you get a group of guys, they come together, beat expectations, surprise some people.
The second step is the expectations are there and how do you handle that. We should embrace that. It’s been quite a while since people expected the Bucks to do something. We expect to be better, we want to be better, we want to be able to take the other team’s best shot. If that’s a step we’re unable to take for whatever reason, we’ll take it when the time comes.”
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