It is nice to see the Milwaukee Bucks getting some attention and love across the Internet. It is one thing for Bucks bloggers like myself, Brewhoop or Bucksketball to praise the Bucks and to be more than a little optimistic but we are seeing articles all over giving the Bucks some love. It seems that most articles out there for one reason or another must mention any Bucks praise with the word “Quietly” which is fine with me, the Bucks will make their noise once the season starts.
The main NBA site has a nice article by Shaun Powell about the Bucks, “Quietly, Bucks may be headed for bigger things this season.”
Yes, there’s a distinct aroma about the Bucks, and for a change, it’s well worth inhaling. The more you see, the more you like about this team, how it’s built and where it’s headed. About the highest compliment paid to the Bucks right now is to say they’ll go into next season with expectations. When’s the last time that happened?
Something mentioned numerous times here and in the other Bucks blogs, the Bucks have the point guard and center nailed down, this is also pointed out by Powell.
A team with fixtures at the two most important positions just addressed and satisfied most if not all questions about needs at other positions. Suddenly, there are shooters, rebounders and defenders to mix in with Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut, making the Bucks a solid favorite to be everyone’s Team On The Rise for the upcoming season.
In Skiles, and the future of the Bucks, we trust.
And then there’s Scott Skiles, the best coach in the league over the last two months and through the first round of the playoffs. He gets the most from his players, but also tends to wear on them eventually. That’s probably not going to happen next season, but how much can he delay that inevitability?
The gut feeling is the Bucks are going places. Good places. The nucleus is solid and the surrounding cast (including Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute) is more than capable of pushing the Bucks up the standings. Much credit should go to Hammond, in his third year on the job, who entered this off-season without the salary cap room of those teams who chased A-list free agents, but with a singular goal in mind.
In an article on SportsIllustrated.com the Bucks are mentioned as a contender in the East, this is something we know and hope but the national media is usually very slow to recognizing small market teams that are not sexy. Sneak Peak at East Contenders. This is what they had to say about the Bucks.
Point guard Brandon Jennings will have more passing options between newcomers Corey Maggette(who gives them a newfound presence at the free-throw line) and Drew Gooden(a versatile scorer and reliable rebounder) and a full year each from John Salmons and Andrew Bogut (health permitting). Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova figure to keep improving, and if coach Scott Skiles can wring production from Chris Douglas-Roberts and rookie power forward Larry Sanders, then this will be a deep and well-balanced team.
Last week SI also had an article giving the Bucks some praise, Bucks Quietly Make Major Moves. The article focuses on the moves made up until that point by GM John Hammond and the aggressiveness by the Bucks.
Where exactly the moves place the Bucks among the hierarchy remains to be seen. They finished sixth in the Eastern Conference last season, a game behind the Heat, who obviously improved with the additions of James and Chris Bosh around Dwyane Wade. Cleveland, which finished first, got worse, and Chicago, which finished eighth, improved in signing free agents Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver. That means the Bucks may have stayed in lockstep with the rest of the conference, right on the cusp of earning home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs — far better than they anticipated before Jennings’ emergence as a star in his rookie season.
Hammond on the Maggette gamble, which I am on board with. There are no safe moves for a small market team, strike wisely, strike quickly.
Hammond also gambled on trading for Maggette, sending Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell to Golden State for one of the stronger one-on-one players in the NBA. With the Warriors, “strong one-on-one player” was a euphemism for black hole; if the ball ever left the hands of Monta Ellisin Golden State, it was rarely going to get past Maggette, who averaged 19.8 points and 5.3 rebounds last year while shooting 51.6 percent from the field. But the stat that most impressed Hammond was Maggette’s 7.9 free-throw attempts per game.
“If you look at numbers, we were at the bottom or near the bottom in free-throws attempts per game. We could not get to the free-throw line,” Hammond said. “We defend well, we rebound very well, but we shot the three well and began to rely on that too much. The one thing Corey does do for us, he does help us get to the free-throw line.
It is nice to see the Bucks get national attention in the off-season, hopefully the Bucks performance next season warrants a lot more attention as the playoffs near.