It has been a summer of major change for the Milwaukee Bucks, and, given that fact, it might be easy to forget that this team finished the 2013-14 season with a 15-67 record—the worst in franchise history.
With a new and bright outlook, the Bucks will take the floor this year in hopes of improving upon the atrocity of a season ago.
And while expectations should be tempered, fans should be thrilled for this new era to start.
It won't take much to best last year's accomplishments—or lack thereof—but just how much better can the Bucks be?
Will New Faces Equate to More Success?
Along with the fresh, young face of second-overall pick, Jabari Parker, the Bucks will look a lot different both on and off the court this fall.
Will that alone equate to a better season? Maybe.
If we're being honest—and there are others who would probably disagree—the Bucks were better than a 15-win team heading into last season.
But things were derailed almost immediately, and they were never able to gain any traction from that point on.
Truth be told, the Bucks had a solid roster in place.
Yes, they're overpaying players like Ersan Ilyasova, O.J. Mayo and Zaza Pachulia, but all three of those guys are capable of contributing, regardless of whether or not those contributions make up for their inflated salaries.
Parker will be eager to prove he is the best player in this year's draft class, Giannis Antetokounmpo will certainly be anxious to take his next, lengthy stride towards toward stardom and newly acquired point guard Kendall Marshall will want to duplicate his success from a season ago.
Assuming they all can do those things, in addition to someone like Larry Sanders having a bounce-back year, the Bucks have a good shot at being far more competitive than they were last season, which should lead to a better end result.
And while those are assumptions, the team is in a much better position for the future than it was a year ago at this time.
Playing in the Central
As Milwaukee's youngsters attempt to grow, they'll be doing so in a division with plenty of top-notch talent.
That's not a bad thing, either.
Getting to regularly stand toe-to-toe with some of the league's best players will be a valuable learning experience that can only help moving forward, not only for rookies like Parker, but for the team as a whole.
It will, however, have a major impact on any sort of immediate resurgence some fans—and I don't think there are many—might be hoping for.
Certainly, without Paul George, the Pacers will slip some, but is his injury enough to drop them below the Bucks? Unlikely.
Still, fans shouldn't worry about the team's place within the division, or conference for that matter.
Milwaukee has a long way to go in its quest to become relevant again, and it's not going to happen overnight.
Look for some improvement, on and off the court, but don't expect a whole lot of noise to accompany it.
Instead, savor the fact that the Bucks are finally headed in the right direction and enjoy the exciting, young nucleus they have in place.
Predicted Record: 24-58
Predicted Place in NBA Central: No. 5
Predicted Place in Eastern Conference: No. 13