PACE: #25 92.1
OFFENSE: #30 99.0
DEFENSE: #4 99.9
The Bucks were arguably the most disappointing team of last season and by a far margin! Milwaukee was coming from a surprising 46-36 regular season record in the previous season and a hard grueling 7-game playoffs series against the Hawks. They would have a healthy Andrew Bogut from the start and they were even aggressive during the free agency and signed some veteran players like Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden. So, the expectations were pretty high – they were picked alongside with the Bulls to be the best team in the Central Division!
But the outcome was a disastrous 35-47 record! By the all star game, the Bucks had already a 21-34 record, so they weren’t competitive all season long.
The weirdest thing about the Bucks was that they were once again one of the best defensive teams in the league! After being the 4th best defensive team in the league (defensive efficiency) in the previous season, the Bucks were even better defensively last season! They were ranked #4 once again, but had even better defensive efficiency numbers: 99.9 vs. 100.9.
We are talking about a real elite defensive team: #4 eFG% allowed w/48.13%;
#8 Defensive Rebounding% w/74.8%;
#4 Points in the paint allowed w/37.6 ppg;
#5 Fast Break Points allowed w/12.1 ppg;
#2 Defending at the rim w/60.7% FG allowed;
#4 Opposing Turnover rate w/14.75%
So, it was truly remarkable how an elite defensive team was able to miss the playoffs when the #8 seed of the conference had a 37-45 record!
The biggest reason resides on the other side of the ball: offense! The Bucks went from bad from last season to absolutely atrocious in the last season:
#30 eFG% w/46.69%; #30 FG% w/43%;#30 Points per game w/91.9 ppg#30 Fast Break Points per game w/10.0 ppg;#30 Points in the paint per game w/35.7 ppg;#30 FG% at the rim w/57.9%;
As good as the Bucks were defensively, they were simply the worst offensive team in the league and that was just too much!
Going for this season, we can expect the Bucks to be an elite defensive team once again, after all this is what Scott Skiles’ teams do: his teams have finished in the top six of the league defensively in six of his seven full seasons as a head coach.
The X factor will reside on the offensive end of the floor as expected…
Somehow, coach Skiles has to stop Brandon Jennings to shoot the ball! Any team won’t win long term when your Point Guard is the league’s 5th player amongst PG’s in terms of FG attempted per game (14.8) but is shooting just 39% FG! Also Jennings isn’t a good facilitator on offense as his 4.8 assists per game vs. 2.3 TO/game clearly show you why. The signing of Stephen Jackson will help the Bucks in the Jennings’ facilitator problem because Captain Jack is a Point Forward that can handle the ball. In fact, Jackson had more assists last season than Jennings! He is also a good defensive player, so the Bucks will have a nice piece for their good defense. The potential problem resides in the fact that Jackson, like Jennings, is a volume shooter that is far from being efficient – a career 41.8% from the field demonstrate this! The Bucks simply cannot afford to have “two Jennings’” jacking up contested jumpers.
On the other side, the signing of Mike Dunleavy will be a plus on offense as Dunleavy is a good shooter and his +/- numbers with the Pacers when on the floor were great and he will help the Bucks to spread the floor.
For the frontcourt, the Bucks have plenty of defensive specialists. Despite playing 65 games last season, Bogut was never 100% healthy as the swelling on his elbow was a problem all season long and he also had the unfortunate problem of suffering from migraines. Some late reports are telling that Bogut is finally 100% healthy, so he is unquestionably the X factor for the Bucks this season as he can produce easy points near the basket and at the same time provide some floor space to his teammates on the perimeter.
The team has good depth with several serviceable players: Beno Udrih, Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova or Jon Brockman, so the Bucks are ready for a grueling schedule.
It is funny that after having high expectations last season, the Bucks are under the radar for this season. For a team that doesn’t have any superstars, the Bucks are really a loaded team! An improvement from atrocious to average from their offense will make the Bucks a playoff team this season.