Sunday, October 20, 2013

My poor Bucks

NBA season will soon be upon us, and this year looks to be a dismal one for the Bucks. NBA talking heads seem to think that Hammonds has signed enough competent veterans that this team will end up where most Bucks teams have recently, picking in the late lottery. I'm not so sure the talent they added will get them there, which isn't all bad. A high draft pick in what could be a very good draft could give this team a young building block for the future.

After injuries to Bogut destroyed this teams strategy to build around him, and Jennings didn't develop into the All-Star player he showed glimpses of becoming, the Bucks have gone into rebuild mode. Hammonds contract was extended to give him this opportunity, and he responded by drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo who has been dubbed the "Greek Freak". Giannis has all the physical tools to be a very good NBA player, but that does not mean he will be one. Even if he does become one, he is not ready now and will probably not be a major contributor for a couple seasons. That leaves this year's Bucks playing a bunch of journeyman veterans, and developing a few young assets. Hammond did not sign anyone to a long term deal (more than 3 seasons) except Larry Sanders who is now the most marketable player on the Bucks. This preserves salary cap flexibility for the next couple years if Hammonds hits on a star in one of these drafts, or wants to make a deal.  
Here is a quick roster breakdown into 3 categories. Players that have a chance to be long term starters in the future. Veterans that may help this year, but won' play with the Bucks beyond their contracts, and roster fillers. I'm not going to spend much time on anyone but the youngsters.
Larry Sanders got a 4 year contract extension which paid him about 10 million per season. Seems high for a guy who has only started 67 NBA games and has never averaged double figures in points or rebounds for a season, (he was 9.8ppg and 9.5 rpg last year) but 10 million a year is the going rate for a passable NBA starting center these days so the contract is not outrageous. What is outrageous is that Larry Sanders is going to be burdened with being the face of a franchise at this point in his career with very little talent around him. Larry developed into a defensive force last season blocking shots, but he is not even close to an all-star level talent. He fouls too much on defense and he is too slight to match up on true centers like Marc Gasol, Hibbert, etc. and not get bullied. He did himself a favor last year by giving up on his long range jumper and his shooting percentage jumped to 51% last season. He doesn't have the ability to get his own shot yet, and without Jennings and Ellis drawing defenders and leaving him easy baskets my guess is his offense will regress this season. Sanders is good enough to be an important piece on a playoff team so his 4 year extension is an OK move. I just worry the pressure of being the face of the franchise will be too much for young Larry.
John Henson enters his sophomore season looking to build off a solid rookie season in which he averaged 6ppg, and 4.7 rpg in 13 minutes. He should be part of a frontcourt rotation with Sanders, Ilyasova, and Pachulia. Henson is not quite the defensive force that Sanders is, but he is a good shot blocker. His offensive game is pretty good already and seems to have lots of room for improvement. He can shoot down low with his right or left, and he shows good touch and passing ability. He has not shown a ton of range on his jump shot yet, but if he can develop this he could become an all-star type player. He will always be criticized as too slight and he doesn't look like a guy that will ever fill out, so the question is if he will become a Camby or just another tall skinny guy.
I have already discussed Giannis so I won't go over him again, but he is the last player in this category. The Bucks are hoping to build a team with a frontcourt of long, defensive minded players. If all goes to plan, then in about 3 years Sanders, Henson, and Giannis will be starting at the 3,4,5 for the Bucks. If that turns out to be that case, then the Bucks will need some scoring punch from their backcourt, so look for them to draft a guard sometime in July. In case you didn't notice that means the other 12 roster players are just place holders.
The Bucks backcourt got a total makeover and the results don't look good. They let Jennings, Ellis, and Reddick leave, and did not replace them with equal talent. The backcourt rotation will be filled with Brandon Knight, and 3 veterans- Luke Ridnour, OJ Mayo, and Gary Neal.
Knight will probably be a better defender than Jennings, but he doesn't have the offensive game. In his 2 seasons he has shot about 41%, and 37% from 3. He doesn't get to the free throw line, and doesn't create much for his teammates. He has averaged less than 4 assists per game despite averaging over 30 minutes a game. Some see him as the point guard of the future, but unless he drastically improves in year 3 he has the look of the other 3 members of the Bucks backcourt- a decent NBA journeyman. Good enough to play in this league, but not good enough to make any team want to keep you around very long.
The Bucks did a decent job of replacing the small forward tandem of Mbah-a-Moute and Dunleavy with Caron Butler and Carlos Delfino. Not a significant upgrade or downgrade, and both players have short term deals so that if Giannis develops as planned, he can move into their minutes as they move on to other teams. Ilyasova will start at power forward and hopefully he will continue to play like he did at the end of last season. If he does then he could be quality trade bait for a team in need of a stretch 4, and could net the Bucks some future draft picks. Udoh seems to have maxed out where he is, which is a decent defender but no better than a 10th man in the rotation type player. Pachulia will give the Bucks some added bulk for those games when Sanders is getting bullied around by a true center, and he should give the coach less attitude then Dalembert. The rest of the roster is filled with guys that probably won't be playing for the Buck beyond this year.

So what does this all add up to? What can I hope to see from the Bucks this year?
Best case scenario is this team just plays well together, and plays some entertaining basketball winning about 30-35 games in the process. The young players all develop and give the Bucks some hope for the future. The Bucks are able to swing a trade with either an expiring contract or a player like Ilyasova and are able to get another young talent for the future.
Worst case scenario is Sanders implodes under the pressure or gets hurt and his contract turns into a drag on the franchise. The Bucks don't have anyone that can score, so they play low scoring, grind it out games but still lose almost all of them. The young players don't develop and the Bucks are left with a 20 win season and a top 10 draft pick.
Maybe next year will be better.

No comments:

Post a Comment