2009/10 Season Review:
No other team in the NBA was able to overachieve like the Bucks
overachieved last season. I remember that the oddmakers had the Bucks
to win 26/27 games, but they ended the regular season with a 46-36
record and a trip to the Playoffs where they forced the Hawks to a
pivotal game 7 to clinch the series.
The supposedly franchise face of this team Michael Redd played only
18 games, so the Bucks had to rely in multiple pieces to carry the
team. Head Coach Scott Skiles finished second in the Coach of the Year
voting and he entirely deserved such high distinction. Actually it’s
almost hard to believe, but the Bucks were the second best defensive
team in the league! If you look to their roster they don’t have exactly
a group of stingy defenders, so it was all about team work and playing
in the same page and that’s why Skiles was terrific last season.
Even when Andrew Bogut went down with a season ending injury, the
Bucks were still a terrific defensive team. Their problem however was
in the other side of the ball: offense! The Bucks struggled to shot the
ball as their 43.5% from the field was the second worst mark in the
league. They also scored only 37.1 points in the paint per game – third
worst mark, so basically the Bucks were a mere jump shooting team that
didn’t shoot well on the offensive end of the floor.
Although the spotlight from last season is attributed to rookie
Brandon Jennings in my opinion it was John Salmons that was the real X
factor in this team. To put it simple: when Salmons arrived in
Milwaukee in the last day of the trade deadline the Bucks had a 25-28
record so with him on the court the Bucks went 21-8 to end the regular
It was a magical season for a team with low expectations, but it
showed how the hard work and team togetherness can really work in
2009/10 Advanced Stats:
Pace 16th 95.8
Offense Eff. 23th 101.9
Defense Eff. 2nd 100.2
Rebounds 17th +0.18
Projected Depth Chart:
PG: Brandon Jennings, Keyon Dooling, Earl Boykins
SG: John Salmons, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Michael Redd
SF: Carlos Delfino, Corey Maggette, Darington Hobson
PF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova,Larry Sanders
C: Andrew Bogut, Tiny Gallon, Jon Brockman
Despite enjoying a terrific season, Bucks General Manager John
Hammond didn’t rest on the team laurels from last season. Instead they
made some moves to improve their weaknesses: offense, interior presence
and more depth to compete in a long 82-games season. They traded for
small forward Corey Maggette, inked power forward Drew Gooden to a
five-year contract in free agency and re-signed John Salmons to a
five-year deal. They also made some “minor” changes upgrading their
perimeter with Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts and finally they
drafted power forward Larry Sanders in the draft.
Last season Head Coach Scott Skiles handed the keys of his club to a
rookie point guard and Brandon Jennings took the responsibility and
showed an unexpected maturity for such young age. Statistically
speaking his 37.1% shooting mark is way off to be a good number in an
era where the league’s top point guards are shooting around 50%, his
body started to feel the fatigue of playing 33-minutes every night as a
rookie and in January and February he hit the wall by shooting 32.4
and 30.7% from the field. Also he had a solid number of 5.7 assists per
game, but his 2.4 turnovers per game weren’t pretty to watch and
monitor. So, what made Jennings so special with these kind of numbers?
Well it’s all about leading a team and being mentally competitive for
the entire season. Other rookies in the league playing for lowly teams
had some periods of time where they could relax a bit without playing
defense or being sloppy on the offensive end, Jennings didn’t have this
luxury, as he played in the second best defensive team in he league!
If he can improve his shooting numbers then the Bucks won’t certainly
be at the bottom of the league in shooting %.
When Jennings didn’t play well, Scott Skiles had in Luke Ridnour a
solid backup point guard. He’s now in Minnesota and the Bucks have
Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins behind Jennings now. I’m a bit concerned
about this rotation because I don’t think that any of these two
players is an upgrade over Ridnour, so the Bucks are really expecting
Jennings to raise his level.
At the Shooting Guard position, the Bucks didn’t want to wait for a
healthy Michael Redd and they threw $39 million at John Salmons this
summer. In fact I don’t think that Redd will be playing again in
Milwaukee, so John Salmons will be the uncontested player in this
position. Since acquiring Salmons from the Chicago Bulls last season,
Milwaukee has made him a focal point of the offense, as he averaged
19.9 points per game, while shooting 46.7% from the field. He was
having a terrible first half of season in Chicago, so it was nice
rebound for him. At thirty-years old, Salmons is on his prime and the
Bucks are hoping that he can carry the load and eventually he will be
the team’s leading scorer once again next season.
The Bucks also added Chris Douglas-Roberts and CDR can play both at
SG and SF, as he is a versatile forward. He didn’t have the best of the
experiences in New Jersey, but he has the upside to be a real solid
player in this league. Luckily for him he will play for Scott Skiles
and he can develop smoothly into a good player.
At the Small Forward position, the Bucks is stocked with plenty of
different weapons. Corey Maggette is the biggest offseason acquisition
and he had a career-year last year, as it pertained to his percentages -
51.6% from the field. The Bucks badly needed some offensive help and
he can be that “guy”. However let’s not forget that Maggette during his
career played mainly for losing record teams, so his competitiveness
and toughness will be tested this season.
That’s why I believe that Maggette will be the sixth man of this
team, as Carlos Delfino will start at Small Forward. Delfino made a
nice comeback in the NBA last season by averaging 11.0ppg, 5.3rpg and
2.7apg, however it was his extreme intensity at the defensive end where
he helped more the team.
Andrew Bogut was the leader of an underrated frontcourt and he was
having a breakout season before a terrible tumble knocked him out of
action within weeks of the start of the playoffs. He was averaging 15.9
points and 10.2 rebounds per game, but it was his brutal awesome
defense that earned the spotlight around the league. To put it simple
he went from averaging one block per game in 08-09 to 2.54 bpg last
season, trailing only Dwight Howard in the whole league! Unfortunately
the pain in his elbow will likely linger throughout this season, so the
Bucks must have solid options to give Bogut some rest during the
They signed free agent Drew Gooden to add more depth in the
frontcourt. Gooden’s career has been a classic example of a journeyman,
but apparently he found a home in Milwaukee. He isn’t a top player,
but he can bring solid numbers across the board, as he’s a
high-percentage player who rebounds well and play some defense. Having
the confidence in the ballclub will help him establish an missing
identity and the Bucks need him to be a complete team.
Behind Bogut and Gooden, the Bucks have an array of promising young players to complete the backcourt.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was the starting Power Forward most of the
time and he was a key piece of the stingy Bucks defense last season
even though he is undersized for the position. Ersan Ilyasova returned
to the and developed into a well-rounded player, as he played in
different positions averaging 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game,
despite playing only 23 minutes per game. Recently he led his country
(Turkey) into the FIBA World Cup finals by averaging 13.4ppg and
7.6rpg, so we are dealing with an extremely confident player going for
The Bucks also selected Larry Sanders within the 15th overall pick
in this year’s draft and the Bucks have another young player that can
be a solid contributor in the future.
The Bucks are a pure classic example of a team that despite not
having a true Superstar player, they have a complete and deep roster
and if they can be solid defensively like they were last season, they
will fight for the division and maybe having home court advantage in
the first round of the playoffs.