2011-12 Record: 31-35, third place in Central Division, 9th in Eastern Conference
2012 NBA Draft: C John Henson (North Carolina, 14th overall pick), G Doran Lamb (Kentucky, 42nd overall pick)
Offseason Losses: G Shaun Livingston (traded to Houston Rockets), F Jon Brockman (traded to Houston Rockets), F Jon Leuer (traded to Houston Rockets)
Resigned: F Ersan Ilyasova (5 years, $45 million)
Projected Starting Line-up: PG Brandon Jennings, SG Monta Ellis, SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF Ersan Ilyasova, C Samuel Dalembert
OFFSEASON GRADE: C
Apparently, “size matters” for the Milwaukee Bucks.
At least, the franchise made it obvious that getting bigger was their primary goal this offseason.
After trading away former number #1 overall pick Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors in a move that brought over unheralded shooting guard Monta Ellis during March of last season, GM John Hammond and Bucks management needed to forge out a plan to replace the skill and size Bogut brought at the 5 spot.
That plan began with a pre-draft trade that sent role players Shaun Livingston, Jon Leuer and Jon Brockman (as well as the 12th pick in the draft) to the Houston Rockets for center Samuel Dalembert and their 14th overall pick.
By trading down only 2 spots, the Bucks were able to land a starting center. Dalembert is an outstanding shot-blocker (1.9 blocks a game for his career) with a knack for pulling down offensive rebounds (2.7 offensive rebounds a game for his career) and getting easy bucks around the rim (50.6% from the field).
He’s not much for creating his own offense in the post, but with Dalembert, you have to take the good with the bad.
The Bucks would then go on to use their newly acquired 14th pick to select John Henson out of the University of North Carolina. At 6’11 and 220 lbs, Henson is a former 2-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year and 2nd all-time in shots blocked for the Tar Heels. He has a very thin frame and will need to add more bulk to avoid being muscled out of the post in the NBA. I also don’t see where he gets time on a team that already has Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and Drew Gooden as a rotation at the 4 and 5 spots. John was the best player available, but I’m not so sure he fills a specific need or hole for this team.
Milwaukee got an absolute steal of a pick in the 2nd round when the team picked guard Doran Lamb of the Kentucky Wildcats 42nd overall. Lamb was the 2nd best shooter in the entire draft, just behind John Jenkins. He shot 47.4% from the field and 46.6% behind the arc in 31.2 minutes of action at Kentucky. He was a first-round talent who somehow fell into the Bucks lap midway through the second round.
There are some heavy critiques of his game that could explain his falling in the draft. He’s not a great ball-handler and doesn’t show much skill when it comes to driving to the rim, which would explain his love for shooting jump shots. Thankfully for Lamb, he won’t be expected to do much of either for the Bucks, as those roles will be filled by starters Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. He will mainly be a backup off the bench who will be called upon to hit open shots and be an effective shooting presence for the teams second unit.
Four-year NBA veteran and Turkey native Ersan Ilyasova resigned with Bucks this summer for a 5-year, $45 million dollar deal.
Ilyasova started 41 games for the Bucks last season and averaged a near double-double of 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds (both career-highs). I’m not putting any ill-will on Ersan, as he played well enough this past year to warrant a new deal. He showed a tremendous increase in his overall numbers over the last 2 seasons, but is one amazing (if that) year worth that kind of money?
The frontcourt is already crowded enough, so it may have been beneficial to the Bucks to somehow complete a sign-and-trade with Ilyasova while his value was at its highest.
So the Bucks got bigger heading into 2012-13, but did they get better?
Competing in the underrated Central Division will be hard enough. The Indiana Pacers are proving to be one of the up-and-coming teams in the Eastern Conference and the Chicago Bulls (sans Rose) are still the Chicago Bulls. The Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers are also both on the rise, so nothing is a given anymore for Milwaukee.
The success of this team will ride mainly on the shoulders of their young backcourt of Jennings and Ellis, but at least the Bucks were able to secure some big bodies to help out their star-studded guards.
OTHER OFFSEASON RECAPS: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports