ESPN is firing up its NBA coverage now that the season is under a week away. Yesterday ESPN Insider members were able to view a breakdown of the Central Division.
Here were some remarks regarding the Bucks.
“Scott Skiles is one of the best coaches out there. Everything hinges on how well Andrew Bogut comes back from such a nasty injury.
Both comments are big keys to the season and Skiles can look like an even better coach with a good defensive center.
Brandon Jennings has a lot of Skiles’ attitude in him — he believes in himself, he’s not afraid of anything — and the team follows suit. He reminds me a little of Nick Van Exel in that when he gets it going from long range he can be a nightmare for opponents to deal with. The next step for him is to make his teammates better.
Assuming Bogut is able to stay somewhat healthy(I’d take 70 games while giving him periodic nights off), Jennings will again be the player that can push them further in the playoffs. Bogut makes the team solid, Jennings can make the Bucks special.
Corey Maggetteadds athleticism, and under Skiles he won’t be as wild as he was at Los Angeles and Golden State. He has one of the worst shot selections in the history of the NBA. But Skiles won’t let him play that way, and Maggette won’t have anybody to chirp to in the locker room so he’ll buy in. He’s got the ability to be a lockdown defender, and I think Skiles will bring that out of him. Maggette won’t have a choice. With Skiles, it’s either his way or ‘get your butt out of here.’ “
Everybody is anxious to see how Maggette and Skiles work together, even the both of them have to be a little unsure of the fit.
Best Case Scenario
“They win 50 games and upset Chicago in the first round to reach the conference semis.”
I would agree with that. I would be happy with a second round playoff series against the Magic, Celtics or Heat. It would be great to beat any of those teams, but I would accept a lengthy series against any of the three as a stepping stone for the Bucks.
Worst Case Scenario
“They struggle to shoot the ball from the perimeter, don’t defend the way a Skiles team usually does, win 45 games and exit in the first round.
Not a horrible worst-case scenario, although I would like a playoff series win.
Breakout Player: Brandon Jennings
How can such an electric beginning be followed up by a breakout season? It’s easy when the player is running one of the best teams in basketball. Jennings should be the catalyst for the Bucks, and consensus around the league is that Milwaukee is a serious dark horse in the East. Scoring and making scintillating plays is easy for Jennings, the next step for him is learning how to run a high-caliber team efficiently. With the addition of free-throw earning phenom Maggette, Jennings will be asked to shoot more 3-pointers (John Salmons is the Bucks only other 3-point threat in the starting line-up), which is a better fit for him than driving and finishing inside.
Bad Contract: Michael Redd
Meet the NBA’s biggest expiring contract. As he recovers from multiple knee surgeries, Redd won’t see any action this season until February at the earliest. It’s likely he won’t offer any returns on his $18.3 million salary this season. Redd’s contract serves as a lesson why offering max contracts to one-dimensional scorers may not be the wisest choice.