The Milwaukee Bucks have missed the playoffs two years in a row now and have had trouble getting things to work out. When their defense was good (last year), their offense was terrible. When their offense was 5th in scoring (99 ppg), their defense gave up 98.7 ppg. Head coach Scott Skiles said he will return for the last year of his contract. And rightfully so, this team has his identity of when he played: tough, full-speed, and hard. What can the Bucks do to turn the corner again? Let’s find out!Since the time Scott Skiles took over, as head coach, he has preached defense. Even without their defensive centerpiece, Andrew Bogut (who has been hurt a lot in his career), the Bucks were always decent. When they traded him away in exchange for scoring-demon Monta Ellis and an under-sized power forward (Ekpe Udoh), their offense increased but their defense took a few steps back. While pairing Ellis with backcourt-mate Brandon Jennings provides a nice offensive punch to your lineup, your defense suffers because now you have an under-sized two guard (Ellis) guarding great scoring two-guards such as Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Joe Johnson to name a few. Almost every two-guard is taller, bigger (physically), and stronger than Ellis. Pair that with the fact that Ellis isn’t known for his defense and you have a barrage of players attacking your weak frontline that consists of Udoh, Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders, and Jon Brockman. I was impressed with the improvement of Ersan Ilyasova this season and I think the Bucks should strongly consider re-signing him, but not to too big of a contract. Let’s keep in my mind that he did average 13 points and nine rebounds a game. Check out the Bucks contract situation by clicking here.
With a large sum of money tied into Gooden over the next three years (nearly $21 mil), I don’t think the Bucks will be looking for a power forward in this year’s draft. They drafted small forward Tobias Harris, from Tennessee, last season and he didn’t impress the organization at all (5 ppg). I could see the Bucks going for another small forward in this year’s draft, especially if Kentucky’s Terrence Jones falls to the no. 12 spot. I don’t think the Bucks are too desperate to make a reach for Baylor’s Quincy Miller. There is a good chance that there will be some good free agents at the small forward spot so I think that’s where the Bucks might go for that position. Their other need is a center; Meyers Leonard from Illinois might be a nice fit for the Bucks. I have looked at many mock drafts and Leonard is projected to go in the middle of the first round. He blocked two shots per game this past season as a sophomore for the Illini and his low-post offense is still growing. I don’t expect North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller to fall to the Bucks at 12, so that is out of the question. If he does, the Bucks will take him. I think Zeller is better than Leonard now, but Leonard has more potential.
The Bucks also have one second round pick. If Beno Udrih doesn’t accept his player-option for this season and due to the uncertainty surrounding Jennings after next year, whether he would leave, the Bucks should look at drafting a point guard. Villanova’s Maalik Wayns has been a guy I have watched for some time now. He is a fierce competitor and had to do a lot for a bad Villanova team this past season. The Bucks could also opt to add more size by drafting Syracuse’s Kris Joseph. Joseph is 6’7 so, more than likely, he would have to play the small forward position. However, he has the strength, rebounding ability, and toughness to play some power forward.
I say this with every team: all needs won’t be met in the draft. Signing good free agents is one of the biggest reasons some NBA teams can make a big turnaround. If Gerald “Crash” Wallace opts-out of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, the Bucks should target this man! They will have enough money to spend and Wallace wouldn’t take up much of that reserve. He is a very good defender and a relentless player. He is the spokesman for playing hard without being too dirty. Another player the Bucks should take a look at is C.J. Miles. Miles is also a guy who plays hard and is a little more of an offensive player but he can also play tough defense.
At the end of the day, the Bucks could have a starting lineup of Jennings, Ellis, Wallace, Gooden, and Leonard. That’s a lot better than what they were playing with at the end of this season: Jennings, Ellis, Carlos Delfino, Ilyasova, and Gooden.
Things are not clear, but they are murky either.
It’s all about finding the silver lining.
- Milwaukee Bucks: What Can They Do in the 2012 Draft to Improve? (bleacherreport.com)
- Agent: Skiles plans to return to Bucks’ bench (espn.go.com)