What are the Milwaukee Bucks' free agent options for a backup center?

This is the true story … of six power forwards … picked to play together under one roof … to find out what happens … when none of them can play center … and things start getting real … The 2011 Milwaukee Bucks offseason.

At first glance, a front court combination of Andrew Bogut and Drew Gooden forces teams to account for Bogut’s interior presence and the threat of Gooden’s step out jumper or pick-and-pop shot. However, when one (or both) players leave the floor, an inherent flaw in this supposedly balanced attack is exposed.

Jon Brockman (Chuck Hayes syndrome), Larry Sanders (in development), Luc Mbah a Moute (undersized), and Ersan Ilyasova (Gooden-esque) all have their strong points, none of which include posting up down low. Without Bogut and/or Gooden (who has few threatening post moves), the Bucks go from being a jump-shot dominant team to one that treats the blocks like they’re hot lava.

Any opposing team with a decent defensive interior simply has to tighten up along the perimeter, knowing Milwaukee doesn’t have a big body capable of backing anyone down for an easy bucket. Bringing in a shooter remains a top priority for the 2011 NBA Draft, but GM John Hammond has already acknowledged the need for a big man that can spell Andrew Bogut with consistency.

The Bucks finished last in the NBA in shots made at the rim in 2009-10 (13.7), and fair even worse in 2010-11 (12.9), although that was good enough for a second to last ranking. That number should rise next season, provided Andrew Bogut and Drew Gooden are completely healthy, Brandon Jennings continues to develop as a finisher, and John Salmons discovers a fountain that makes him 400 days younger.

Milwaukee still needs to make bringing in a pure center (not named Dan Gadzuric) a major priority. That should allow Drew Gooden to return to his natural position as a power forward, and provide depth for the handful of inevitable Andrew Bogut DNPs. The 2011 crop of free agent centers is far from impressive, with the short list of realistic potential Bucks including such game changers as Joel Pryzbilla, Nazr Mohammed, Nenad Krstic, DeAndre Jordan, and Jason Collins.

Milwaukee could opt for the trade route to bring in a center, one possibility being Chris Kaman if the Clippers extend the suddenly in-demand DeAndre Jordan. But doing so would also mean the Bucks would be getting older, more injured, and $12 million poorer, unless John Hammond could swing his ex-Clipper magic by unloading Corey Maggette. On second thought, let’s stick to free agency or the draft.

This offseason will most likely define John Hammond’s tenure as the Milwaukee Bucks general manager. Where he picks up a center really doesn’t matter as long as that player contributes solid interior defense and makes teams account for his presence under the basket.

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Tags: Andrew Bogut Brandon Jennings Drew Gooden Ersan Ilyasova John Hammond Jon Brockman Larry Sanders Luc Mbah A Moute Milwaukee Bucks Milwaukee Bucks Points In The Paint

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