As discussed in a previous column, the Milwaukee Bucks will have 7 new players on the roster when they tip off on October 30th against the Philadelphia 76ers. In addition, they will be dealing with their two stars, center Andrew Bogut and shooting guard Michael Redd, returning from serious injuries. With this much variance to adjust for, the Bucks must make the most of training camp and the preseason. This is precious time that the players will need to gel on the court, learn tendencies, develop communication, and gain intuitive familiarity with each other. The next six weeks will be crucial for the Bucks, but ultimately they may also prove pointless.
Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks, Kurt Thomas, Roko Ukic, and Hakeem Warrick were all added to the Bucks roster this summer. Delfino, Jennings, and Warrick will likely get major minutes this season. Not only do these players need to adjust to each other (just as Redd and Bogut will need to adjust to them), but they will also need to learn the Bucks offensive playbook and defensive schemes. Six weeks is hardly enough time to memorize all the plays and familiarize with the defensive plan enough to intuit double teams and rotations. The learning period will clearly spill over into the regular season. However, how much learning is done when the games matter will make a big difference in the Bucks’ performance. The more the team can come together, the more competitive they will be when the season starts in earnest.
Unfortunately, regardless of how well the team comes together during training camp, preseason, and the regular season, the Bucks may need to go through this process all over again next summer. Bucks management, it seems, cannot keep a roster together. Here is a list of notable contributors that the Bucks have lost over the past five seasons:Mo Willaims
At this point, Bango the Buck is the most senior member of the team. Even worse, this is not a complete list of roster changes. There were a number of less notable players also added to and subtracted from the team. Above all else the Bucks need stability. They need a core of at least 3 starters, and 2 bench players that stick with the team and can help facilitate the transition of new players. The Bucks may have that with the current roster if they can hold on to the players. They’ve had many potential cores over the past five seasons, but have failed to retain players other than Redd, Bogut, and Dan Gadzuric.
Of course, small market teams have difficulty keeping players. It’s tough to get a new stadium built in Milwaukee (though the land is available), a wonderful city being hit hard by the recession. It’s tough to attract and keep players with the Bradley Center. But more than that, management has shown a lack of planning and foresight. They do not know who the Bucks should be, and so, the team is never the same for more than a season. If the Bucks cannot find stability, all the hard work the coaches, trainers, and players put together each off season will be pointless – a casualty of the hyperactive management of a small market team.