Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE
More like the Blocks, amiright?
Every year there are players who, no matter how hard you think about it, you simply cannot remember what team they ended up on. Luckily, if you experience that phenomenon this season, you can rest assured that every single one of those players in on the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks have stocked their roster with journeymen, a few young talents, and every block specialist in the league. I don't think the Bucks will be very good this season, but I'd be willing to risk a substantial amount of money that they will lead the league in blocked shots. The Bucks have Samuel Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh, Joel Przybilla, Larry Sanders, and rookie John Henson. While certainly not the most inspiring collection of big men ever assembled, opposing teams will certainly need to think twice before entering the paint. The Bucks also employ defensive specialist Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
The Bucks will need that stout interior presence, as the rest of the team is strictly concerned with offense. Ersan Ilyasova tries, but certainly isn't a geat defender by any stretch. His value comes on offense, as an incredible gifted stretch four. It's a shame he's stuck in Milwaukee, mostly because most NBA fans don't watch Milwaukee and are thus unaware of Ilyasova. This led to the Bucks re-signing him to a bargain rate of $40 million over 5 years.
The Bucks backcourt is even worse defensively. For all of their offensive gifts, nobody has ever accused Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings of trying on defense. Ellis and Jennings are talented, though. They carry on the tradition of frustratingly fun guards in the NBA. What will be interesting is to see how the two coexist over a full 82-game season.
Coach Scott Skiles will certainly have his work cut out for him, as most of his roster seems inclined to work hard on only one end of the court or the other. Perhaps he can find a balance, and find a way to win with 2 or 3 guys engaged on either end of the floor. If not, Skiles could easily be one of the first names on the NBA coaching hot seat. Skiles is in the last year of his contract, and has yet to make a compelling case to be retained.
Skiles isn't the only Buck in a contract year. Monta Ellis has an Early Termination Option after this season, and it wouldn't be unthinkable to see him test his value on the open market. Jennings is also playing for a new contract, as he's eligible for an extension on his rookie contract. It will be interesting to see how these three contract scenarios play out.
I'd expect another trip to the lottery for the Bucks. They have some nice pieces for the future, but it's not clear what the team concept is. The team has a lot of defensive players and a defense-oriented coach, but the team's biggest stars are offense-only scoring machines. If the Bucks work to keep Jennings, Ellis, or both, a lengthier rebuild is in order. If the team commits to defense, it will mean cutting ties with the two biggest names on the roster. Milwaukee's management does not face an easy choice. My money would be on Skiles being exiled sooner rather than later.