Six Moves the Milwaukee Bucks Should Make
The Milwaukee Bucks are a team in transition and are a team which must make many difficult decisions before the 2011-12 NBA season tips off on Christmas Day. They also must utilize the season itself to make the final calls on individual players and whether or not they fit into the team’s plans for the future. Yet, as is the case with all NBA teams with the limited success as the Milwaukee Bucks in the past handful of seasons, the tough decisions are not limited to the players. With the new CBA expected to help small market teams somewhat, the Milwaukee Bucks need to make a lot of decisions in a hurry.
This team is not going to win the NBA title in the 2011-12 season and there isn’t one person outside of a diehard Milwaukee Bucks fan who would argue otherwise. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t use the upcoming season to improve in a number of ways.
#1 – Re-sign Mbah a Moute.
One of the unheralded players on the Milwaukee Bucks is Mbah a Moute. He is one of those rare NBA players you can tell just by watching on television that he is a hard worker and someone you want to see succeed. For media members who have had the opportunity to speak with him, all of those thoughts are confirmed. He is a good guy, works hard, improves each season and is a player nearly everyone would want on their team.
Mbah a Moute’s teammates love him and want him to return. Recently, Bucks center Andrew Bogut tweeted about how he very much hopes Milwaukee re-signs him, as he is a great contributor to the team. Mbah a Moute is an above average on-ball defender, continues to improve each season and is a fan favorite. This is a player the Milwaukee Bucks should want around for many years.
#2 – Stay healthy.
Without question, one of the biggest issues for the Milwaukee Bucks the past few seasons has been the inability to keep their core players on the court. While injuries are something that occur regularly in professional sports and all teams must overcome that obstacle, the Bucks have been ransacked with the injury bug these past few seasons, killing most of their opportunity to develop and build their core.
Now, as a shortened season is about to tip-off, the Bucks are relatively healthy heading into the year and, as a whole, have young legs. Because of that fact, this is an opportunity to utilize their relative youth and ability to bounce back with so many games jam-packed together. While few expect much from the Bucks outside of the possibility of obtaining a playoff berth and an early exit—that is, unless something remarkable happens in free agency—this is a chance to build the team’s confidence and the fan’s hope in the future of the franchise.
#3 – Look into free agents.
The free agency period should start on Friday and, as each team in the league is also doing, the Bucks should look to free agents to add to their roster. There are a number of free agents on the market who could step in and make significant contributions to the team right off the bat, but Milwaukee is not always a spot free agents choose unless the Bucks overpay for their services. Obviously, the team must be careful and make prudent decisions on which they want to pursue.
Recent reports indicate the Bucks have reached out to Caron Butler, who missed a good portion of last year for the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. While Butler may fit into the category of one of those players who could step in immediately and contribute, you would hope the Bucks have done their due diligence to determine Butler’s health and ability at this time. It has also been reported the Bucks have reached out to Carl Landry, but it sounds as if the player has very little to no interest in joining Milwaukee.
#4 – Develop Brandon Jennings more.
During his brief NBA career, point guard Brandon Jennings has been adequate. However, with all the expectations that were placed at his feet when he arrived in Milwaukee, he needs to develop his game more and begin to show he has the ability to dominate. Jennings numbers have been solid—averaging 15.5 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals in his rookie season and 16.2 points, 4.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals last season—it is now time for him to acknowledge the weaknesses in his game and improve.
One of the most alarming deficiencies in Jennings game is his ability to shoot the ball. Obviously, as a point guard that is a problem. During his rookie season he shot 37% from the field and 37% from beyond the three point line and in his second season he “improved” to 39% shooting from the field and 32% from three. This is not good enough from the player the Milwaukee Bucks wanted Brandon Jennings to be when they drafted him. Hopefully, Jennings utilized this extended off-season to work on that portion of his game.
#5 – If healthy, run through Bogut.
After some pretty freak injuries, Andrew Bogut looks to be returning to Milwaukee for the 2011-12 season in relatively good shape. Yet, like Jennings, it is officially time to determine what the Bucks truly have in Bogut during the upcoming season. While he has had an adequate NBA career to this point, Bogut has also been less than expected for someone drafted as high as he was and, of course, a lot of the blame goes to his injuries.
If Bogut truly is healthy to start the season, he and Jennings need to be options 1A and 1B for the Milwaukee Bucks. With the NBA as it is right now, there are very few centers in the league who are great challenges and, by default, Bogut possesses the skills to be one of the best. The offense should run through Bogut in the post because of that fact and also, if Bogut gets rolling in the post, opponents will have to drop down to double-team him or cheat some defensively. If that is the case, he will open up areas on the court for Brandon Jennings in his quest to make better decisions and should help to improve his shooting percentages.
#6 – Truly decide on a plan for the future, a core.
The 2011-12 season continues a transitional period for the Milwaukee Bucks. With the NBA lockout forcing the players into an extended off-season, the men in suits in the front office for the Bucks will learn even more about the players on their roster as they return to Milwaukee. Are they in shape? Did they utilize the extra time to improve on their individual games and, therefore, help to improve the team they represent? This is a great opportunity to see the maturity of the players they hope to build around.