ESPN.com posted a crucially important and divisive article yesterday. No, it did not involve a racially-altered image of a quarterback with a criminal past. Instead, the real story was that their TrueHoop blog focused the Milwaukee Bucks in their crosshairs. They used their clever ’5-on-5′ format: five writers offering their opinions on five questions surrounding the future of the team. Here were the questions asked about the Bucks:
1. Fact or Fiction: Brandon Jennings is on his way to stardom.
2. Fact or Fiction: The Stephen Jackson trade made sense.
3. Fact or Fiction: Andrew Bogut will play in an All-Star Game.
4. Fact or Fiction: Milwaukee’s future SF and PF are already on the roster.
5. Fact or Fiction: This will be a bounce-back season for the Bucks.
Included among the respondents were Henry Abbott, the founder or TrueHoop, and Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball. (Beware: I’m about to take a very boring stance, and generally agree with Jeremy on all responses, but I’ll take solace in the fact that I’m agreeing with the person in the group who actually, you know, watches the greatest number of Bucks games.)
1. Fiction. Brandon is a smallish, 40% shooter who doesn’t generate a ton of easy looks for his teammates. Until he improves in one of those areas, he can’t be considered a rising star. I’m a big believer the “Year 3″ theory; namely, that the third year of a pro’s career is the most telling predictor of future success. If he’s going to make it big, we’ll see it this year (if there’s a season to be had).
2. Fact. See my opinion here.
3. Fact. Of five questions, this one is the opinion in which I have the most confidence. Bogut is right on the cusp of being an all-star. The things he did last year with just one functional arm, especially defensively, were amazing.
Andrew isn’t helped in the voting by toiling in a small market that rarely makes it onto national TV. But the Bucks should make the playoffs this year and that should be enough spotlight for him to make it for the following season.
4. Fiction. Or should I say, “Nooooooo.” Luc Mbah a Moute defends like a samurai, but will always have limits on offense. Ersan Ilyasova won’t be shopping for real estate in Chenequa anytime soon. Larry Sanders blocks shots well, but that won’t make him a good defender unless he positions and rebounds better. Tobias Harris is a teenager from a weak draft class; Drew Gooden is Drew Gooden.
5. Fact. For one thing, The Bucks got hammered by injuries last year after making the playoffs in 2010. Also, how may Eastern Conference contenders have long-term answers at point guard and center? Are there any teams other than the Bucks? Don’t expect the Bucks to win more than one playoff series with this roster, but they do possess enough talent to both sneak in the playoffs and pull off an upset.