LY W-L: 38-44
Key Additions: Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Carlos Delfino, Zaza Puchulia, Miroslavi Raduljica, Larry Drew(head coach), Khris Middleton, Slava Kravtsov, Gary Neal, Luke Ridnour, Nate Wolters, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Key Departures: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Mike Dunleavy, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, J.J. Redick, Samuel Dalembert, Gustavo Ayon
Analysis: The Bucks did a ton of re-modeling to their roster this offseason.
Milwaukee is replacing the erratic back-court of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis with the perimeter duo of Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo. He’s known for being on skates in the Rising Stars game and getting dunked on by DeAndre Jordan, but Brandon Knight quietly had a respectable sopohomore season — averaging 14 points and shooting 36% from downtown.
Jennings and Ellis combined for 2,683 shot attempts, which was 37% of Milwaukee’s attempts. The Bucks are going to have find a new face of the offense, whether it’s Knight, Mayo, or even Gary Neal on some nights.
Although Ellis and Jennings were horrible shot takers during the season, Milwaukee’s offense will miss their playmaking. Jennings and Ellis combined for 1,017 assists, which was 54% of the team’s assists. Neither Mayo, Ridnour, or Knight eclipsed 400 assists this past season. Someone is going to have to step up and fill that role as the playmaker.
Newly hired head coach Larry Drew could find use in Luke Ridnour on offense. In Minnesota last season, Ridnour shot an incredible 156/330 from 16-23 feet, per hoop data – which was more efficient than Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Dirk Nowitzki.
Milwaukee has a favorable combination at the 4 and 5 spots with John Henson and Larry Sanders. Sanders averaged 2.8 blocks, which was second in the league behind Serge Ibaka. Because of his knack to protect the rim proficiently, it led to an article that was showcased at the Sloan Sports Analytic conference, stating he is the most effective rim defender in the league. That is a definitely a plus for Milwaukee. John Henson should expect to see a larger role going into his sophomore season, after playing just 13.1 minutes per contest last season. The former Tar Heel flashed his skills in the summer league, dominating opponents and received honors for the All-NBA Summer League Team.
Even though the Hawks splurged 15 million over three years on Zaza Puchulia, it will put less pressure on Sanders, Udoh, and Henson to carry the burden inside. Head Coach Larry Drew has a chunk of flexibility for his coaching staff to experiment big and small lineups throughout the season. The question for me remains is with the momentum Larry Sanders is gaining for this upcoming season, could it hurt his development if he is seeing less minutes.
An underrated signing for Milwaukee was 6-6 shooting guard, Carlos Delfino. The pairing of Marquis Daniels and Mbah a Moute on the court last season was suitable for the perimeter defense but they provided little on offense. Carlos Delfino can fill the role that those two could not. He is a capable defender and shot 42% from the corners in Houston.
(Projected) 2013-2014 W-L: 33-49
The Bucks will be decent enough to compete, but won’t be bad enough to be in the top of the lottery. A problem for Milwaukee is they are in a murderer’s row division with Indiana, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit, who are all projected playoff teams. They have a plausible frontcourt but need to find someone to lead the offense. Could O.J. Mayo become more rejuvenated in an offense where he is the number one guy every night?