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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SDH's 2012/2013 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 16. Milwaukee Bucks

Overall Win/Loss Record : 31-35 third place Central division

Last Season’s Rank

19
Projected 2012/2013 Finish

16
Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank
  • Points Scored: 99.0 (5th)
  • Points Allowed: 98.7 (22nd)
  • Team FG%: .443 (20th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .449 (16th)
  • Rebounds per game: 42.5 (12th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 44.7 (27th)



Returning Individual Statistical Leaders



Projected Starters Based on Last Season’s Performance, Veteran Seniority and Projected Impact


Key Reserves Based on Last Season’s Performances, Veteran Seniority and Potential Impact.
  1. Drew Gooden (F/C),
  2. Mike Dunleavy (G/F),
  3. Beno Udrih (PG),
  4. Ekpe Udoh (F/C),
  5. Tobias Harris (F)

2012/2013 Projection:  45-37 third place in Central Division, looking to make a playoff run and to possibly shock the world.

Read this now and believe it later, but the Milwaukee Bucks will be headed to the playoffs and possibly be the most dangerous team in the NBA.  Their roster does not necessarily shout “Championship,” but they will certainly give elite teams such as the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs a run for their money.  They will certainly put a scare in their Central Division rivals, the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls who many expect to remain at the top of the division.  Upon a closer look at the team, the Bucks have a roster that resembles very closely to the Oklahoma City Thunder—a team that took the league by storm last season to reach as far as the NBA Finals.  Some may be rolling on the floor laughing as they read this paragraph aloud; however, the joke will be on them as they see a team that has virtually been ignored reach the upper echelons of the NBA.

To elaborate how good this team is going to be, let us take a look at the team that they have been compared to being, the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Similar to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Bucks’ starting five consists of two players who will dominate the ball on the offensive end while the three other starters consists of essentially “ cleanup men” whose prime purpose are playing defense, forcing turnovers and rebounding.  In the case of the Thunder, those three players consist of Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka, and Kendrick Perkins whereas the clean up men for the Bucks will consists of Samuel Dalmbert, Ersan Ilyasova, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.  The Bucks also share a common similarity with the Thunder in the second unit in which they have an adequate scoring punch along the rebounders and role players to maintain the defensive intensity; however there is one minor difference.  The Thunder only have one player who provides a major offensive punch off the bench in James Harden whereas the Bucks have two—namely Mike Dunleavy and Drew Gooden.

Last season the Bucks could not really hang on in the standings due to their inability to find someone that can consistently make a basket, especially in the clutch.  That has drastically changed with the addition last season of Monta Ellis, who was acquired along with promising big man Ekpe Udoh in exchange for the disappointing Andrew Bogut.  Ellis adds that element that the Bucks desperately needed—someone who was ready, willing and able to hit crucial shot and fill up a stat sheet allowing his teammates to do what they know best which is defend, rebound and force turnovers.  He is the perfect complement to Brandon Jennings who was forced to take a multitude of the shots due to his inability to find a teammate that could make a basket.  Watch for these two players to form one of the most lethal one-two punch combinations in the NBA.

Some may be skeptical of viewing the Jennings/Ellis combination as the next Durant/Westbrook; however, the facts supporting this assertion are quite strong upon looking at the current evidence.  In fact, the combo of Ellis and Jennings will prove to be an even more effective combination that that of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook upon closer examination of last season’s numbers.  In OKC, Durant and Westbrook may have produced close 60 point and 11 assists per game, but their assist turnover rate was horrible at approximately 10:11. On the other hand, although Ellis’ and Jennings’ scoring numbers were far lower at about 42 points per game, but they produced the same assist rate as Durant and Westbrook at 11 per game along with one major difference.  Unlike OKC where Durant and Westbrook together had a 10 to 11 assist to turnover ratio last season, Ellis’  and Jennings’ ratio was 10 to 5—a sharp contrast to that of the dynamic duo for the Thunder.

If Scott Skiles has the common sense as his coaching counterpart Scott Brooks of Oklahoma City Thunder, he will allow Jennings and Ellis to dominate the ball provided that they play the defense that will provide the turnover to make their scoring possible.  Unfortunately like the Thunder, Skiles runs the risk of his team ending up like Oklahoma City where two plays do everything while the others are relegated to mere spectators.  That did not help the Thunder in the last season’s NBA Finals as the Miami Heat simply adjusted putting their best defenders on the Thunder’s two stars whilst their own stars simply coasted on the defensive giving them the energy to dominate the game on the offensive end.  The Milwaukee Bucks may see the same happen to them as many teams witnessed how the Thunder fell apart simply by adjusting their lineups to focus defensively on their two stars while the others lazily defend the three other players knowing full well that they offer nothing in terms of offensive production. Nonetheless, with current lineup the Bucks have, they can certainly raise some eyebrows and shock the league enough to finish strong once the regular season ends.