Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview

11 10 2008

My NBA Central Division preview continues with the Milwaukee Bucks:

Milwaukee Bucks

2007-08 Standings 26 – 56, 13th Eastern Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 35 – 47, 4th Central Division, 11th Eastern Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Andrew Bogut, Charlie Villanueva, Richard Jefferson, Michael Redd, Luke Ridnour

Sixth Man:  Joe Alexander

The Bucks will be hoping for more aggressive play like this from Australian, Andrew Bogut

The Bucks will be hoping for more aggressive play like this from Australian, Andrew Bogut

On paper the Milwaukee Bucks have a good lineup and should make the playoffs. They have a legitimate centre in Australian Andrew Bogut, a multi skilled power forward in Charlie Villanueva and All Star sharpshooter Michael Redd. That core was intact last year and yet they only won 26 games. This year they stole Richard Jefferson from the New Jersey Nets for Yi Jianlian and project as being a better team.

They also added a new coach in the fiery, relatively successful Scott Skiles. He had outlived his welcome in Chicago but with the Bucks his voice should bring about a change in performance.

So why don’t I see them as a legitimate contender for the playoffs? I guess it’s because they never seem to bring a consistent edge to their play. Take the aforementioned players. Bogut is an effective centre but he seldom dominates a game like a former number one overall pick should. Villanueva has numerous skills and is capable of the odd break out performance but in many ways he reminds of a lesser version of Lamar Odom with the all of his faults. Redd is a wonderful shooter and is capable of dominating with his shooting yet his game is somewhat one dimensional. They are all flawed in different yet significant ways.

The Bucks are looking for the addition of Richard Jefferson to help solve some of these problems. With the Nets he was a consistent performer, a capable defender with the ability to take over a quarter occasionally. He should gel well with the Bucks.

A question mark hangs over the point guard play of the Bucks. This has been Maurice Williams position with them for the past couple of years and while he did a solid job, their dissatisfaction with his performance showed in their shifting him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Taking his place are Luke Ridnour and Damon Jones. Ridnour is a solid point guard if somewhat stilted while Jones is a streak shooter.

The Bucks will be hoping that their latest draft pick Joe Alexander develops into a Richard Jefferson clone.

Coach:

Scott Skiles is one of the feistiest coaches around. All the teams he has coached have improved in their first season under him. Eventually he outstays his welcome but for now he is a good fit.

Bench:

The Bucks have a bench filled with average NBA players. Most of them are roleplayers who have been around the NBA for a while. Only rookie Alexander looms as someone who is able to go further.

Star Player:

Michael Redd is the Buck’s star. He is an All Star who is capable of averaging 25+ points a game. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to the addition of Jefferson to the team and the resulting fewer shots.

Team MVP:

How far the Bucks go depends on how much production the Bucks get from the centre position. Andrew Bogut needs to show more than he has in his 3 seasons in the league. If he can become a consistent threat the Bucks will challenge for the playoffs. If his inconsistent form continues they will struggle.

Final Prognosis:

The Bucks will be better than last year but they are still a few quality players away from making the playoffs. The other teams in the east are better than them. I’m projecting 35 wins.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





New Jersey Nets Season Preview

2 10 2008

My NBA Atlantic Division preview continues with the New Jersey Nets:

New Jersey Nets 

2007-08 Standings 34 – 48, 10th Eastern Conference 

2008-09 Predicted Record 20 – 62, 5th Atlantic Division, 15th Eastern Conference 

Projected Starting Five:  Brooke Lopez, Sean Williams, Yi Jianlian, Vince Carter, Devin Harris 

Sixth Man:  Stromile Swift 

The Nets are hoping that Devin Harris develops into the dominant point guard that Jason Kidd was.

The Nets are hoping that Devin Harris develops into the same kind of dominant point guard that Jason Kidd was.

LeBron James has been linked with the Nets for 2010 that you almost believe that the contracts have already been signed. How else do you explain the moves that the Nets have made in the off-season? They lost Nenad Krstic to Europe then traded Richard Jefferson, their best player away – all in the name of cap room. Nets fans better hope LeBron comes otherwise their team is munted for no good reason. 

At least they have some good young talent to build around. Devin Harris was acquired mid season for Jason Kidd. Harris is good and he’s still developing as a player but Kidd is a future Hall of Famer and his loss will be felt. 

Brooke Lopez, the rookie centre with the supermodel style name will provide energy and hopefully some post presence but he will have to work hard to replace Krstic’s production. 

Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons will fail to replicate what Jefferson brought to this team. They’re solid but Jefferson was class and worth many more wins than this duo can bring. 

And then there is the nominal star of the team: Vince Carter. He’s still capable of the odd highlight move but is there anyone who believes he is a star or even All Star worthy anymore? 

This team is better off playing the kiddies. They’ll lose lots but hopefully they’ll learn enough that when LeBron does come they’ll be ready. 

Coach:

Lawrence Frank looks like a fan has wandered down from the stands to coach the team. He’s had a winning record while in charge of the Nets but this year is going to be brutal. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Frank replaced sometime this season. That’s the consequence of rolling the dice for LeBron.

Bench:

The bench doesn’t inspire much confidence. It’s full of journeymen and youngsters. The season is stuffed already – why don’t they just give the kiddies as much playing time as possible?

Star Player:

Vince Carter will produce a few highlight clips but that’ll be all. It wouldn’t shock to see him develop an injury, oh maybe in February after the All Star voting is done, and then pack it in for the season. 

Team MVP:

Devin Harris deserves better than playing with the Nets. By rights he should still be with the Mavericks as their point guard but he’ll play with professionalism and we’ll see how many wins he’ll garner for the Nets.

Final Prognosis

The plan for 2010 and King James has munted the present. If he comes across it’ll be genius but if not, ouch. The Nets of 08 -09 will be one of the worst teams in the NBA.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.