Last season saw the Milwaukee Bucks claim the 8th seed in a weak Eastern Conference despite a losing record. Their time in the post season was short-lived, though, as they were swept by the eventual NBA Champions, Miami Heat. It has been somewhat of an interesting off-season that saw some of the more polarizing players leave in exchange for even more polarizing players for different reasons. After firing Scott Skiles during the season, the team was able to secure a very good replacement with Larry Drew, former Atlanta Hawks head coach. Drew will be tasked to develop the young talent and mess them with the veterans to hopefully return to the postseason.
Key Additions: SG O.J. Mayo (Free Agent); SF Caron Butler (Trade w/Suns); Giannis Antetokounmpo (NBA Draft, 15th Overall); PG Brandon Knight (Trade w/Pistons)
Key Losses: PG Brandon Jennings (Trade w/Pistons); Monta Ellis (Free Agent)
Player To Watch For: This is a tough one. The Bucks have talent at every position but I believe the player who can help the Bucks the most if he comes into his own is John Henson. The 2012 1st round pick looked great in the Las Vegas Summer League, and will look to grow upon that success. The area where he could help the Bucks would be on the glass and the defensive end of the court. If he happens to evolve his offensive game to where he can knock down jumps shots from 10-15 feet and become a reliable free throw shooter, he will be a player that can make the difference for the Bucks between being a bottom feeder to a respectable contender.
Area of Focus: Leadership is the key for the Bucks this season. Larry Sanders is the leader by default but I believe he will need to be the vocal leader for a young team. It always helps to have a seasoned vet like Caron Butler to assist you in that area, but with the extension now in place, Sanders will need to step up and prove to the organization that they made the right investment for the future.
Intriguing Question: Will the Milwaukee Bucks stay in Milwaukee?
After the failed attempt by the Seattle group to secure the purchase of the Sacramento Kings, it was just a matter of time before the next team that has question marks will be the subject of relocation talks. Now let’s be honest for just one second, everyone can agree that the Sonics should have never left Seattle. But no other city should lose their team either. The Bucks have now become the center of attention focusing on the Bradley Center‘s ability to house the team going forward. The issue is not prevalent now, but if plans are not getting traction soon, this could be another black cloud over another NBA franchise and its loyal fan base.
Season Prediction: 30-52
With the Bucks losing the scoring punch of Ellis and Jennings, I just do not see how they can make a run to the playoffs with the improvements of all of the other teams in the same echelon. I like the additions of Mayo and Knight, but with the unproven and unmotivated back court it will be hard to see the Bucks returning the to postseason this year.