Coach: Scott Skiles
2007-08 Record: 26-56
Pythagorean Record for 07-08: 23-59
Offensive Rating: 105.3 (21st in the league)
Defensive Rating: 112.8 (30th)
Possessions per 48: 91.3 (17th)
Min%: 51.6 (27th)
|Offensive||48.2 (23rd)||.137 (21st)||.300 (3rd)||.215 (23rd)|
|Defensive||52.4 (30th)||.130 (15th)||.730 (19th)||.250 (21st)|
Roster (Red indicates new acquisition, Blue indicates rookie)
I’m torn on Michael Redd. Before last year, I was sure he was becoming a legitimate star caliber player. He was putting up ridiculous efficiency numbers while taking a ton of shots. Last year, he took a significant step back from where he’d been the previous two years. Now, there’s a decent chance that was due to the general malaise of suckitude surrounding the Bucks last year, but who knows. Even at his worst though, Redd is a first-rate scoring option. He’s an elite shooter who has learned to attack the rim and get to the line effectively since defenders have to crowd him so much. On the other hand, defensively he makes a matador look like a brick wall.
The Richard Jefferson pickup was great because it cost them so little, but I’m a bit confused about Milwaukee’s offseason strategy. The Jefferson trade is clearly a “win now” move, but then they just gave Mo Williams away for practically nothing. Those seem like contradictory moves to me. At any rate, Jefferson is fantastic whenever he’s healthy, which seems to be every other year. If he manages to stay healthy this year, Jefferson should benefit from playing on a team with plenty of other offensive options. He’s much more of a finisher than a creator, so he’s much more effective if he can be a team’s second or even third option. He’s most effective in transition, where he can really run the floor and finish strong. Defensively, he was very strong before last year, but definitely seemed to fall off some last year. In particular, his defensive rebound rate has plummeted the last two years. If Scott Skiles can renew Jefferson’s dedication on the defensive end, he’s one of the league’s better two-way forwards.
While he’s never going to live up to being taken over Chris Paul and Deron Williams, Andrew Bogut is developing into a potent low-post scorer. A lot of young big men right now are either becoming face-up players or just sheer power finishers around the rim. A guy like Bogut, who is a legitimately skilled back-to-the-basket scorer, is very rare. He has a variety of post moves, and he can finish with either hand. He’s not much of a spot-up shooter right now, which is a shame since he’s such a great high-post passer. He also needs to improve his turnover rate, which dropped last year but is still too high for a guy with his passing touch and skill level. I think there’s a chance that we see a real offensive explosion from Bogut this year if he puts it all together. Defensively, he gets the most out of his ability, but he’s a bit limited athletically. He takes a ton of charges (second in the league in offensive fouls drawn), but he’s not really explosive enough to deter people at the rim. He really improved at that last year, tripling his block rate, but he’s not the kind of dominating rim protector who can erase others’ mistakes (otherwise the Bucks wouldn’t have been the league’s worst defensive team). It’ll be interesting to see how Skiles utilizes him this year. I’d love to see the Bucks mix in some Princeton-style sets to utilize Bogut’s high-post passing ability. Regardless, Bogut will be a huge key to their success this year.
I’m done waiting for Charlie Villanueva to live up to his potential. He’s displayed little to no progress in his 3 years in the league, and shows little intensity on the court. He’s a very good athlete, and has excellent offensive skills. He’s a perimeter oriented forward, but he takes way too many 3s for someone who really isn’t that great a deep shooter (31.8% on his career). He really needs to make more use of his ability to drive by slower defenders, but he doesn’t take advantage of that very often. He also avoids contact with extreme prejudice, with a minuscule free throw rate, especially for a post player with his athleticism. Defensively, we won’t even discuss his ability because his effort is never there. He just hasn’t shown any sort of drive to become a lockdown defender or really to improve in any way. Guys like this very rarely pan out real well.
If you’re looking for Luke Ridnour to be the solution at point guard, you’re going to be wildly disappointed. He’s a pass-first, pass-second and pass-third point guard who really doesn’t shoot the ball well at all. Unfortunately, he’s not that spectacular as a passer either. He distributes the ball fairly well, but he’s also very turnover prone for a guy who passes the ball and does little else. Defensively, he’s well below par, so he has to be effective offensively to be worth anything. He’s much better when he can get out and run in transition, but we’ll have to see how this team is going to play. Milwaukee was in the bottom half of the league in pace last year, and Scott Skiles isn’t exactly known for his up-tempo style.
I really like Joe Alexander, but it’s going to be a year or two before he contributes. He’s really raw as a player, but he made tremendous strides in college, and his work ethic at West Virginia was legendary. He’s an absolutely tremendous athlete who can run and jump with anyone. If nothing else, I think he’ll be a tremendous defender throughout his career.
X-Factor: Ramon Sessions – So, is the Sessions we saw for 17 games at the end of last year for real? Clearly, the man has talent. You don’t drop 20 points and 24 assists in a game if you don’t have skills. He’s not a fantastic athlete or a great shooter, but he is a fantastic floor general and a guy with a nose for the ball. He has excellent size for a point guard, which makes him an excellent rebounder and a pretty solid defender. Of course, this all comes from a fairly small sample size (though Sessions did play very well in the D-League too). If he can repeat that success over the course of a whole season, the starting point guard job will be his, and the Bucks will be a much better team.
To put it bluntly, this team sucked. They were terrible. Despite all their offensive weapons, they found no continuity on that end of the floor, and finished in the bottom ten in the league offensively. Of course, that’s nothing compared to how bad they were defensively. With a roster full of guys who either couldn’t play defense or had no interest in trying, they finished at the bottom of the league defensively. They really just seemed to lose interest as the year went on, finishing with only 4 wins in the last 2 months of the season.
This team actually has a decent chance of being competitive. They certainly have the offensive firepower if they can put it all together. A team with so many weapons certainly can’t be this poor offensively again. More importantly though, will be whether or not Skiles can get this team to play defense. Having Jefferson and more minutes for Sessions should help, but he’ll have to persuade guys like Villanueva and Redd to buckle down and give a consistent effort on the defensive end. If they can be just below average instead of awful, they can contend for the East’s final playoff spot. If not, they’ll be lottery-bound again.
xphoenix87 is a BallerBlogger Contributing Writer. He actually knows more about basketball than Hoff, but sshh, it’s a secret. He’s doing season previews of all 30 NBA teams. Check back tomorrow for Denver’s preview.