Milwaukee Bucks: The Hype is Real
Earlier this offseason, I wrote an article evaluating the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. Some of the teams I included were obvious to most people; the newly formed super-team the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference defending champions the Boston Celtics, the new look Chicago Bulls and the perennial playoff bound Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks. However, the sixth team I included has not been given the respect that they should have earned last season.
The CBS sports website is currently conducting a poll asking if the Bucks will make the playoffs. Out of 564 votes, 30% of voters answered no to the question.
It is clear that NBA fans do not actually know the Bucks roster and their potential for next season. In a matter of time, Milwaukee will prove they are contenders and not pretenders, but until then, let's dig deep into their depth chart and see what all the hype is with this "Fear the Dear" motto.
Starting PG, Brandon Jennings, #3
Brandon Jennings accomplished a lot in his rookie season. The Milwaukee point guard was one of the key players on the team that brought them to the playoffs. After his first year of play, Jennings was named to the NBA All Rookie team and was a serious candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award.
The twenty year old California native is the general on the floor and his excellent court vision allows him to create plays for his team. In addition to this skill, his quickness, ball-handling skills and passing ability makes him a true point guard that will control the tempo of this young team. Jennings is a good free throw shooter and good three point shooter.
The young guard stepped his game up in the playoffs with the absence of the team's starting center. He increased his scoring and almost led the team to an upset against the Atlanta Hawks. Jennings will again lead the Bucks to the playoffs and prove to non-believers that people should Fear the Dear.
Starting SG, John Salmons, #15
Just before the trade deadline last regular season, the Bucks trade a couple of guards to the Chicago Bulls for John Salmons. Upon Salmons arrival it seemed as if God sent him to Milwaukee. The Bucks were led by Jennings and Bogut but the acquisition of Salmons gave the team a scorer to play along the point guard and center. Each of these three players averaged just over 15 points per game but Salmons went on a scoring tear with his new team.
This offseason Salmons was a free agent but the team retained him by resigning him to a contract for five years, worth $39 million dollars. Some critics argue that Salmons was overpaid and not worth a five year contract due to inconsistency but signing a player that could potentially lead the team in scoring for around eight million dollars a year will prove to be a good move.
Salmons can play both small forward or shooting guard depending on who else is on the court. He contributes with both rebounds and assists but is not particularly great either statistic. As a wing, he played above average perimeter defense and his size gives him versatility in guarding both twos and threes. At only 30 years old, Salmons should prove to be effective with the Bucks and prove he was worth his contract. After half a season of playing alongside his Milwaukee teammates, fans should expect Salmons to continue his success next season.
Starting SF, Corey Maggette, #5
Corey Maggette joins the Bucks this season as a newcomer since a trade brought him to Milwaukee from Golden State. Like Salmons, Maggette is another 30 year old wingman that is efficient in scoring and versatile in the positions he can play. He is listed as a small forward but could potentially play shooting guard. Maggette was the go-to player for the Warriors last season and almost averaged 20 points per game.
He is a great rebounder for his position but is fairly selfish in his play. Maggette won't impress anyone with his ability to handle or distribute the ball but is a very effective slasher in driving to the basket. Maggette is more prone to go for the lay up or dunk than to take a jump shot. The forward is great at getting to the free throw line and converts most of his opportunities with easy points as he scores 84 percent of his foul shots.
On the defensive side of the court, Maggette is an average defender with the potential to be much better than he is. The combination of his size and athleticism gives him the ability to be more of a defensive asset. Since both Maggette and Salmons are both slashers, it will be interesting to see how they play alongside each other but both players should be able to contribute a lot of points to the Bucks.
Starting PF, Drew Gooden, #0
Drew Gooden is another new acquisition to the Milwaukee Bucks and is brought in to do the dirty work. On a team that has many scorers, Gooden will put up significant numbers in other stats. He has averaged over 7 rebounds per game in the past six seasons and has averaged double figures in points per game in every season in his eight year NBA career. Gooden will bring much needed size to the front line of the Bucks organization and will contribute mainly in post scoring, grabbing rebounds, and blocking an average of about one shot per game. Unlike most big men, he shoots very effectively at the free throw line.
Critics also questioned the longevity and price of Gooden's contract when he was signed this offseason. At five years and $32 million dollars, the Bucks made a big commitment to the forward. The move was a surprise to many fans since the journey man has played on seven teams in the past three seasons and nine teams in his eight year career. Gooden should find a starting role on the team and contribute as a hustle player.
Starting C, Andrew Bogut, #6
Andrew Bogut is an absolute stud in the NBA. At only 25 years old, Bogut is recognized as a top 5 center in the league, averages a double double and stands tall as a 7 footer. Not only is he talented but the league doesn't have many true centers like Bogut. The Australian native puts up most of his stats in the post and uses his height and strength to play well. Although he has improved greatly since his rookie year in 2005-2006, Bogut still has room to improve in his speed and free throw shooting. In his career Bogut has needed a playmaker to better his game and the Bucks found that in Jennings and the young duo will be the leaders for the team.
Bogut isn't necessarily great defensively but can block shots at will. Throughout the season Bogut blocked 2.5 shots per game due to his height and ability to anticipate timing. He may find himself in foul trouble often. Bogut's value as a young true center with a ton of talent doesn't come around often. With room to improve and a supporting cast that can improve his play, Bogut should see a boost in his stats from last season.
Sixth Man, Carlos Delfino, #10
Carlos Delfino is the best player you've never heard of. Delfino is expected to be the sixth man this year since Salmons and Maggette will start at the two and three. He is currently leading team Argentina in the FIBA World Championships alongside Luis Scola and is showing he can score in an increased role, which would be helpful if he needed to start for any reason. Delfino is another winger that has great size and can play shooting guard or small forward. He is a great shooter and can create opportunities for himself.
Delfino is a key player off of the strong Bucks bench. He stepped up in the playoffs against the Hawks and fits well with the team's roster.
SF, Luc Mbah a Moute, #12
Luc who?? Luc Mbah a Moute is not a household name, but should be. Mbah a Moute just finished his sophomore year and will be playing for Milwaukee next season at an absolute bargain at $854,389. He is a long small forward and is only 23 years old. Mbah a Moute can contribute with a few points and rebounds a game. Although his stats aren't very impressive, his main contributions come on the defensive end of the floor. He is a defensive stopper and his length and size allow him to shut down opponents. Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant called him and Ron Artest the best defenders against him. When speaking of defensive greats, being mentioned with Ron Artest is a huge compliment, especially coming from one of the elite players from the league.
When the Bucks start proving their threat as contenders this season, Mbah a Moute will start to get more credit.
PF, Ersan Ilyasova, #7
As we go further down the Bucks depth chart, most NBA fans become more and more unfamiliar with the players. Ersan Ilyasova is another young stud that hasn't had much popularity. He is another international import and is currently playing for team Turkey. At 6'9", Ilyasova can play both small forward and power forward and is a great spot up shooter for his size. He is great in the transition which translates well when playing next to the speedy Jennings. Ilyasova is another role player that will get significant playing time off the bench and will contribute mainly in scoring and rebounding.
PG, Keyon Dooling, #55
Keyon Dooling is another player new to the Bucks. He isn't a great player and has big shoes to fill in taking Luke Ridnour's spot since he departed in the offseason. Dooling will backup Brandon Jennings. The combo guard is very quick and can score in spurts, but in order to fill the need of a backup point guard, the Bucks will need to hope that Dooling can become a better distributor.
PF, Larry Sanders, #8
2009-2010 College Statistics
In this year's draft, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted power forward Larry Sanders. Sanders is a 6'9" big man that is 21 years old and has a high ceiling of potential. He isn't overwhelmingly tall but has a wingspan of 7'5" according to draftexpress.com. His size and athleticism will help him translate into a great NBA scorer and rebounder. He length also allows him to block shots. Sanders role on the team this season is unknown due to the experience of Gooden, Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute who also play power forward. He will play a large role with the team in the future and will grow with the other young talent on the roster.
SG, Chris Douglas-Roberts, #17
Dooling isn't the only former Net who packed things up in New Jersey to play for Milwaukee. Chris Douglas-Roberts will be joining the combo guard and play his first season in a Bucks uniform. CDR is a pure shooter. He is talented and is a great fit in the team that's roster is full of slashers. Douglas-Roberts is considered a head case and could disrupt team chemistry so the Bucks made a risky move in trading for him. However, if the 23 year old can grow up a little, he can be a solid contribute off the bench to shoot the three.
PF, Jon Brockman, #40
Jon Brockman was acquired this offseason for the Bucks and probably won't play much of a role on the team. The 6'7" Brockman is undersized for his power forward position. Brockman's most noticeable strengths are his ability to rebound and the energy he can bring off of the bench. He will enter his sophomore year and will receive little minutes, if any.
PG, Earl Boykins
Earl Boykins being defended by his new teammate Keyon Dooling.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Earl Boykins stands at 5'5" which makes him the shortest player in the NBA. However, don't let his size fool you. Boykins can score in bunches and has no problem in driving to the basket and using his floater to his advantage. He actually had his statistically best season with the Nuggets and Bucks in the 2006-2007 season. Boykins follows the trend of speedy point guards on the roster and if he can play like he did in his last stint with the Bucks, he will be a great backup off of the bench.
Injured Reserve, SG, Michael Redd, #22
Michael Redd at the Olympics gold medal ceremony.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
After analyzing the Bucks starting five, sixth man, and other reserves, its shocking that none of those talented players will be the highest paid player on the team next season. The Buck that will have the biggest pay check is the 10 year veteran Michael Redd. Redd has been somewhat forgotten recently due to a number of injuries. In the past two seasons he played a total of 51 games. He will start the season injured but when he returns he could be a valuable asset.
The Bucks could do one of two things with a healthy Redd. They could keep him and play the former Olympic stud and let him contribute to the team's play. In the 2005-2006 season Redd averaged 25.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Throughout his career he has put up great stats when he was healthy. Another option the Bucks have with a healthy Redd is to trade his expiring contract. Teams will be drooling for his $18.3 million contract to come off their books next season. However, if the Bucks keep him, they will have the flexibility of his contract expiring. It will be interesting to see how Redd recovers from injury, what role he will play, and if the Bucks decide to keep him for the rest of the season.
Fear The Deer
Check out the Bucks promotional video for the motto "Fear the Deer".
Last season the Bucks proved they are a legitimate team and made their first playoff appearance since 2006. The team is stacked with young talent led by studs Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut. Teamed with scorers in John Salmons, Corey Maggette and Carlos Delfino and players that do the dirty work in Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Mbah a Moute, the Bucks have a great rotation. They will have to hope that back up point guards Earl Boykins and Keeyon Dooling can suffice in the absence of the departure of former point guard Ridnour. Another X-factor for the Bucks will surround Michael Redd. Milwaukee has the talent to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs. In a new look Eastern Conference, the Bucks will join the Heat, Celtics, Magic, Bulls and Hawks as elite teams in the conference. Although it is unknown how the team will fare in the playoffs after another year of experience, one thing is known, teams and fans will learn to fear the deer.