What the Buck Is Going on in Milwaukee?

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Like so many franchises in American professional sports, the Milwaukee Bucks are a storied organization whose better days have passed them by. The Bucks captured their first and only championship in 1971, fueled by the potent combination of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) and Oscar Robertson. Despite the confirmed and future Hall of Famers that have have played for the Bucks (including Dave Cowens, Nate Archibald, Bob Lanier, Alex English, Moses Malone, Adrian Dantley, and Ray Allen), the franchise has managed to capture only 12 division titles and 1 conference title in the nearly 40 years since they won their championship. Their last title-competitive squad was the 2001 team that feature Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell. Unfortunately for the long suffering Milwaukee faithful, 2009-2010 does not look likely to Buck that trend.

Over the past decade, the Bucks have displayed a consistent and considerable flaw: poor personnel management. The most obvious example of this came in 2005 when the Bucks selected Andrew Bogut with the first overall draft pick, leaving both Deron Williams and Chris Paul on the board. More recently, the Bucks let Mo Williams travel to Cleveland where the underrated point guard received an All Star selection and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Looking foward to the 2009-2010 season, Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut, the two stars of the franchise, will make a combined $27,000,000. That’s 40% of the total player salary. For two players that combined for 69 games last year, averaging a total of 33 ppg, the investment seems suspect. The most obvious piece of condemnation is of course the Buck’s 38% winning percentage in the three full seasons that Redd and Bogut have lead the squad.

Man, my hip hurts.  How's your knee, Mike?

Man, my hip hurts. How's your knee, Mike?

The Milwaukee Bucks will likely have a starting line-up this year of Andrew Bogut (C), Hakim Warrick (PF), Carlos Delfino (SF), Michael Redd (SG), and Luke Ridnour (PG). It’s hard to argue that Warrick is an upgrade from Charlie Villanueva. Though younger than Charlie, Hakim has posted less impressive numbers and gives the Bucks a smaller front court than last year. Delfino, on the other hand, is actually potentially an upgrade from Richard Jefferson. Delfino is an exceptional team player, who has Gold Medal Olympic experience and made a name for himself playing for the Flip Saunders-coached Detroit Pistons. Like Luke Walton for the Lakers, Delfino plays with creativity and unselfishness and is excellent at deciphering when to pass or shoot. The bright spot off the bench for the Bucks will continue to be Luke Richard Mbah a Moute. The sophomore baller is by far the Bucks best value. Making less than $750,000 next season, Luke Richard’s scrappy defense and high energy approach make him a great role player. He has the potential to develop into a serious lock-down defender, similar to Scottie Pippen, or Bruce Bowen. His offense is still in development…

The rest of the roster doesn’t inspire much confidence. Joe Alexander failed to assert himself at all last season, despite his superior athleticism. Charlie Bell, Francisco Elson, and Dan Gadzuric are known scrappers, but they lack the skill and talent to make a sustained impact on a game. Kurt Thomas, the most surprising name on the Buck’s roster, is a tough veteran, who can shoot and rebound. However, his ability is clearing giving way to age. Perhaps the most interesting name on the roster is Ersan Ilyasova. Ersan is a re-addition to the Bucks. He played for the Bucks in 2005-06 as a rookie, and then signed a 2 year contract with FC Barcelona and was brought back to Milwaukee for the up-coming season. As a rookie, Ilyasova shot too much, from too deep, and did little rebounding. He did display moments of brilliance, however, shooting the lights out, and using his size and speed to attack the rim in grand fashion on broken plays and second chances. It will be interesting to see how he has matured. He may be a wild card for the Bucks.

Joining Ilyasova as an unknown quantity, and replacing the very efficient Ramon Sessions, is the young Brandon Jennings. Jennings, a point guard, posted truly astonishing numbers in high school (38ppg, 7 apg, 5 rpg, 4 spg). However, Jennings could not meet the requirements to play for the college team of his choice, the Arizona Wildcats. Instead, Jennings went to play in Italy where he got little playing time and put up paltry numbers (8ppg, 2rpg, 2apg). Jennings at least seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He did not cheat to gain entrance to college, which we now know is something of an epidemic. When in Italy, he donated $50,000 to help reconstruction efforts after an earthquake. And he opted out of the limelight of the NBA draft to attend a family function. Jennings should get decent minutes behind Ridnour. He is not expected to make an impact immediately.

Though head coach Scott Skiles will likely continue to imprint his hard-nosed, defense-orientated style upon the Bucks, it’s unlikely that any amount of discipline and defensive improvement by Milwaukee will make a significant difference in the NBA’s Central Division, which houses perennial powerhouses in the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers, and the competitive Chicago Bulls. The Bucks hopes for the eighth and final playoff berth continue to rest on Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut. Unfortunately for the franchise and the fans, Redd has been an injury prone and streaky player, and Bogut, though skilled, has never lived up to being the first overall draft pick. It’s looking more and more like it will be another frustrating year for Bucks fans, players, management, and all the basketball fans in Wisconsin watching the Bucks live or on Fox Sports.

So as we say in Wisconsin each fall as the weather turns cold, the baseball season comes to and end, and we’re ready for a new sports season: Go Packers!

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6 Responses to “What the Buck Is Going on in Milwaukee?”

  1. UNK Paw Says:

    Great guest article. Nice description of this franchise. You certainly know your Bucks.

  2. Paul Madavi Says:

    Not sure how much of a good thing that is, UNK.

  3. Bucks Training Camp Crucial, Pointless « Double Dribble Says:

    […] Training Camp Crucial, Pointless By pmadavi As discussed in a previous column, the Milwaukee Bucks will have 7 new players on the roster when they tip off on October 30th […]

  4. Scott Marks Says:

    I usually dont leave comments but I love reading on my favorite bball team. Please update again soon.

  5. pmadavi Says:

    on it!

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