The slogan for the 2008-09 Milwaukee Bucks is "Ready to Rise", but is the team really ready?
It's actually a smart advertising ploy, because after a 26-56 season last year, the only place to go is up.
In the past it's been "Our Team, Our Town", but the only thing that "our" team was doing was flushing games right down the toilet in front of "our" town.
The Bucks replaced their GM, head coach and several roster spots in order to 'rise' above their pitiful 26 win plateau.
The team continues to have plenty of talent and the only thing that Scott Skiles needs to do is realize where that talent lies in all of his 15 players.
Milwaukee's roster looks really good on paper, but of course you don't play the game on paper. That has been the main problem for this team in years past.
This is how the roster seems to pan out for the grueling 82 games this year, along with how these players came about to be on this "Ready to Rise" roster.
Point Guard - Luke Ridnour (via trade w/ Cavaliers and the now defunct Sonics)
Shooting Guard - Michael Redd (43rd overall pick by Milwaukee in 2000)
Small Forward - Richard Jefferson (via trade w/ Nets for Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian)
Power Forward - Charlie Villanueva (trade w/ Raptors for TJ Ford)
Center - Andrew Bogut (1st overall pick by Milwaukee in 2005)
Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson should be able to provide one of the better 1-2 punches in the league this year.
Andrew Bogut finally played like the No. 1 overall pick last year and looks like a true NBA center now. Bogut will definitely be a double-double threat in every game he plays.
Luke Ridnour has a true point guard's mentality, which is 'pass first', in order to set up the offense. A new atmosphere should really help Ridnour become a leader on the court.
'Charlie V' needs to realize that he will get more opportunities to score if he plays down low like a power forward should, rather than waiting for the ball 23-feet away from the hoop.
Guard - Ramon Sessions (56th overall picked by Milwaukee in 2007)
Guard - Tyronn Lue (signed as free agent in 2008)
Guard - Charlie Bell (signed as free agent in 2005)
Forward - Joe Alexander (8th overall pick by Milwaukee in 2008)
Forward - Malik Allen (signed as free agent in 2008)
Forward - Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (37th overall pick by Milwaukee in 2008)
Forward - Austin Croshere (claimed off waivers in 2008)
Center - Dan Gadzuric (34th overall pick by Milwaukee in 2002)
Center - Francisco Elson (signed as free agent in 2008)
Sessions and Lue will provide solid backup as point guards, with Sessions splitting time with Ridnour, and Lue playing in case of foul trouble. I'm still unsure as to why the Bucks matched the Heat's offer on Charlie Bell.
Alexander, Allen, Mbah a Moute and Croshere all know how to find the ball and will significantly improve the Bucks' rebounding and defense. Ah, defense, a word that the Milwaukee Bucks don't know the meaning of. Skiles and GM John Hammond are looking to change that in dramatic fashion this season.
It will be another year for Gadzuric to prove that he's worth the $6 million that Milwaukee is paying him. My guess is that the Bucks can wave bye-bye to that stack of dough yet again. Elson will be there to provide backup when Danny G finds himself at the end of the bench.
In 2001, Milwaukee was one game away from representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, as they were led by their own "Big Three" in Sam Cassell, Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson.
For the 2008-09 season, the Bucks will use Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson and Andrew Bogut to try and recreate the "The Big Three" and go deep into the playoffs. The entire fan base is hoping that the feat can be done sooner rather than later.
Since they play in the East, it might be possible for Milwaukee to sneak into the No. 8 playoff spot with a 37 win season.