The NBA season doesn't start for another two months, but fans start asking questions (especially of a 26-56 team) as soon as the last buzzer of the season sounds.
Here are five questions that the Milwaukee Bucks will have to answer over the course of the NBA's 82-game season.
1. Can the new John Hammond-Scott Skiles regime save the franchise?
I think that they have nowhere to go but up. The two Larrys (Harris and Krystkowiak) had no foresight and no passion, and Milwaukee's performance on the court affirmed it.
The work Hammond has done thus far is encouraging. Only ESPN's Bill Simmons could have done better.
He's traded away a disgruntled Yi Jianlian, an expiring contract with Desmond Mason, and solved a backcourt chemistry problem by sending Mo Williams to Cleveland.
He already had Charlie Villanueva to replace Jianlian. He picked up former All-Star Richard Jefferson from New Jersey to replace Mason, and Luke Ridnour, a true point guard that won't take shots from Olympic gold medalist Michael Redd, comes over from Seattle to run the offense.
Fans won't know how the Skiles hire will go until the season begins. Frankly, though, it won't be hard to improve on Kristkowiak's performance, and that's all Bucks fans ask.
2. Will Andrew Bogut live up to the monster contract he signed this summer?
Is 14 points, 10 rebounds, and nearly two blocks per game enough to garner this much money per year for a center? I think it is.
Ever since being drafted first overall in 2006, Bogut has gotten better in every season and has quietly become one of the better centers in the league. John Hammond has rewarded Bogut for his hard work and dedication to his franchise, and it's now up to Bogut to break out in 2008 and become the kind of player I think he can be: a 20 point, 12 rebound per game center.
3. What will the rookie forwards contribute this season?
Milwaukee drafted two athletic forwards in the draft during this offseason. Joe Alexander came from West Virginia and had 17 points per game in his final season and single-handedly took his team to a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Prince Luc Richard Mbah A Moute came out of a very successful UCLA program that had seen the Final Four in each of his three seasons with the team. He also was the Freshman of the Year in the Pac-10.
The addition of these two players can only help the Bucks. Both are capable scorers and Mbah a Moute will help Bogut bring down big rebounds.
4. What about the bench?
The two aforementioned rookie forwards will undoubtedly contribute heavily off the bench. Ramon Sessions showed promise last season as an effective backup point guard and Charlie Bell will be expected to score while Redd rests.
The biggest problem is depth at center. After Bogut, the Bucks have Dan Gadzuric, Francisco Elson, Jake Voskuhl, and Michael Ruffin, all of whom are considerably less talented than Bogut.
5. How will the Bucks finish the season?
As I said earlier, the only thing the Bucks can do this season is improve. With a new coach and three new starters that are all improvements over what the team had before, I think the Bucks can push for a .500 season. This might not sound that great, but they do play in the Eastern Conference where a 37-win team makes the playoffs happen.
Conceivably, the Bucks could squeak into the playoffs, but many fans would be happy if the team finished with better than 30 wins. My prediction is a 34-48 finish for the Bucks and a ninth place conference finish, just missing the playoffs.
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