The Milwaukee Bucks are entering the 2013 season without their two best scorers from last year, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Milwaukee allowed Ellis to walk via free agency and they traded Brandon Jennings to the Pistons. This is a re-building Milwaukee Bucks franchise, there is no doubt about that, so don’t expect them to compete too much this season for a Playoff spot.
Brandon Knight is the key piece that they got in return for Brandon Jennings from the Pistons. Knight has undeniable talent, and averaged 13.3 points, 4.0 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per contest last year in Detroit. He is capable of going off for 25 points on any given night, but really needs to work on his consistency. Knight has the potential to turn into Milwaukee’s point guard of the future if he works on his offensive consistency and all-around aggressiveness.
O.J. Mayo is another new addition to the Bucks, and was acquired via free agency. Mayo is coming off of a very disappointing season with the Dallas Mavericks, where he averaged 15.3 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game. His consistency was the major issue in his first and only season with Dallas, and he fell into Rick Carlisle’s doghouse very quickly. He doesn’t like to play defense either, which makes it hard for coaches to leave him on the floor when he’s struggling offensively. Many reports have said that he’s very motivated to turn things around with the Bucks following that very disappointing, and quite frankly embarrassing season in Dallas. If he’s able to get his offensive game back to the way it was in Memphis, then he’ll be a big pick-up for the Bucks.
Each and every NBA team needs to have a rim protector at the center position, and the Bucks have one of the best in the league with Larry Sanders. The Bucks and Sanders agreed to a four-year, $44 million extension this past off-season, and there are many question marks about whether or not he’ll live up to earning all of that money. Sanders had a very big year in Milwaukee last year, averaging 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. The one issue that most analysts have with his game, is his offensive struggles. He doesn’t have any go-to post moves, and he can’t knock down the mid-range jumper either. If he’s going to take the next step and become a great all-around center for the Bucks, he needs to work hard on the offensive aspect of his game.
Yet another new addition the Bucks’ starting lineup will be small forward Caron Butler. Butler had a down season with the Clippers last year, and has actually been traded twice this off-season alone. He averaged 10.4 points per game last year, but he was unable to find his role with the Clippers. Now that he’ll be playing for a team that will ask him to be one of their primary scorers, it will be interesting to see how he responds. He’s a very solid three-point shooter, and despite his age, he’s still very good at creating his own shots.
The Bucks’ roster certainly has talent everywhere. Carlos Delfino, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Gary Neal, Ekpe Udoh, Luke Ridnour, and even Zaza Pachulia are all capable of playing very good games when called upon. John Henson is one of the most talented front-court players in Milwaukee and began receiving very valuable playing time towards the end of the season last year. Gary Neal will be a vital scorer off the bench for the Bucks after helping the Spurs get to the NBA Finals last season. Ersan Ilyasova will likely be the starting power forward, and despite having consistency issues of his own, can put up double-doubles on any given night.
Overall, this Bucks team has the potential to compete with anybody. The main issue facing them is that they are a very young, completely new team. It will take some time for the team to gel together, and even when they do, they have a lot of question marks. The consistency has to be there from everybody, and it just doesn’t seem likely that the Bucks will make a serious run at the postseason. More than likely they’ll wind up with the 10th seed in the East and be lottery bound in the NBA Draft.