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NBA Team Previews: 2009 Milwaukee Bucks Preview

Herb Ilk

Herb Ilk

Herb Ilk writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


MILWAUKEE BUCKS
By Herb Ilk
RotoWire Staff Writer



STATE OF THE FRANCHISE



The Bucks finished with a losing season for the fifth year in a row in 2008-09. That trend is likely to continue as they turned over much of the roster during the offseason and are looking more towards the future than to this season. Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions have all departed, leaving the Bucks a little bit inexperienced. Milwaukee also needs bounce-back seasons from Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut, both of whom missed more than half of the last year due to injuries. Young players like Joe Alexander, Luc Mbah a Moute, Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova will be counted on to provide productive minutes and score points.


PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION



Andrew Bogutís back problems appear to have cleared up and heíll get the bulk of the playing time at center. Dan Gadzuric filled in while Bogut was out, but heíll go back to a bench role. Michael Redd returns from ACL surgery and will man the shooting guard spot. Heíll be backed up by Charlie Bell, rookie Jodie Meeks and newcomer Carlos Delfino. The departure of Ramon Sessions means that Luke Ridnour will log a lot of minutes at point guard. First-round draft pick Brandon Jennings will push him for time and could take over the starting role. The position most in flux is forward. Ersan Ilyasova has played in Europe during the last two seasons and is starting to impress. He could be a sleeper to start at one of the forward positions or at least get meaningful playing time. Veteran Kurt Thomas will also provide some bulk at the power forward spot while Hakim Warrick can provide offense from the position. Joe Alexander and Luc Mbah a Moute will both find time at the small forward position, depending on what head coach Scott Skiles wants from his lineup.



PLAYER OUTLOOKS



Center







Andrew Bogut: After missing significant time in two of the past three seasons due to injuries, Bogutís value has dropped. The former No.1 overall selection was supposed to be a franchise cornerstone for the Bucks, solidifying their frontcourt for years to come. Instead, he has only shown flashes of the talent that made him a top-notch prospect. Bogut was hindered by back problems most of last season, appearing in his final game in late January. The extra time off appears to have helped in Bogutís recovery, and he hopes to be ready for training camp. Before his season ended abruptly, Bogutís scoring average dropped nearly three points from the previous season, from 14.4 to 11.7. One of the reasons for the decline in scoring was his continued struggles from the free-throw line, where he shot a career-worst 57.1 percent. His defense also tailed off as his blocks fell from 1.7 to 1.0 per contest. Still, he was able to set career-highs in rebounds (10.2) and field-goal percentage (57.7). Heís also a solid passer out of the post and can be a sneaky source of assists from the center position. The Bucks have a dearth of scoring talent in the frontcourt, leaving Bogut as their primary post-up option. While he lacks explosiveness, he has a multitude of post-up moves that get him high-percentage opportunities and should keep him in the mix to reach double figures in scoring year-in and year-out.



Dan Gadzuric: Gadzuric played in 67 games in 2008, averaging 4.0 points and 2.4 rebounds. His role expanded when Andrew Bogut missed the second half of the season due to injury. Heís still just a role player off of the bench and itís not likely heíll reach anything more than that.







Forward





Joe Alexander: Alexander struggled a bit as a rookie, playing in just 59 games and averaging 5.7 points. Heís still a raw player who needs to refine his skills more. Alexander will be in the mix at small forward and maybe even some power forward, depending on the lineup.


Ersan Ilyasova: Ilyasova played the last two seasons in Europe, but is still just 22 years old. Heís been drawing favorable reviews while playing with the Turkish national team this summer and could provide the Bucks will some scoring help. His defense will be a bit lacking, but he can make up for it with his offense.


Luc Mbah a Moute: Mbah a Moute surprised many by playing such a large role for the Bucks last season, starting 52 games for the injury-depleted team. Heís a big 6-8, 230-pound wing that has only average athleticism and plays a style of game without huge upside. On the other hand, he was very consistent for a rookie with meager but reasonable averages of seven points, six boards, an assist and a steal in 26 minutes of play. Now that he is more used to the rigors of the NBA it is not unreasonable to think that he could average near a double-double if he plays sufficient minutes as a sophomore, but his lack of three-point range or any other peripheral contribution limits his upside. The Bucks are a team in flux and Mbah a Moute seems more a starter by default than a future cornerstone, but he is still worth keeping an eye on if he keeps getting minutes.


Kurt Thomas: The Bucks needed some strength on the defensive end of the floor and theyíll look to the veteran Thomas to help out. Itís doubtful that heíll get significant playing time, but will provide help with his rebounding and defense.


Hakim Warrick: Warrick has been used mainly off of the bench in the past, but should be able to land a starting power forward role with the Bucks. Heís been able to average double-digits in points off of the bench so he could fit in well with a Bucks team trying to figure out where it will get scoring.





Guard:





Michael Redd: Redd has fallen off the map in the past year due to a string of career-threatening injuries. After missing 14 games during the early part of the 2008-09 season with an ankle injury, he suffered a devastating, season-ending injury in late January by landing on the foot of teammate Luke Ridnour and tearing both his ACL and MCL. Redd underwent successful surgery to repair his ACL in March, and initial estimates are that he will be ready by training camp this year. Still, heís on the wrong side of 30 and will be entering the downside of his career. He could potentially bounce back to put up top-50 numbers, especially considering the Bucks will be shorter than ever on scorers this season, but the odds are stacked against him. Be sure to monitor Reddís status closely as the season approaches. If healthy, heíll provide a nice source of scoring and threes.


Luke Ridnour: Ridnour doesnít seem like an ideal guard for a Scott Skiles team, but he managed to beat out Ramon Sessions and hang on to the starting job in Milwaukee. This season heíll face another threat, from rookie Brandon Jennings Ė but Jennings is pretty raw, having spent the last year as a part-time player in the Euroleague, so donít be surprised if Ridnour hangs on to the starting job for far longer than fantasy players would prefer. Ridnour is an excellent free-throw shooter and a pretty decent three-point bomber, but probably wonít rack up huge assist totals, especially on a Milwaukee team that figures to be one of the leagueís weakest.


Charlie Bell: Bell never lived up to the promise that he showed two years ago and has been a little bit of a disappointment. He has the ability to come off the bench and score and shoots the three-point shot well. Expect him to play mostly the shooting guard and small forward positions, helping out wherever the Bucks need him.


Brandon Jennings: Jennings opted to play in Europe in 2008 instead of going to college. Heís an exceptional athlete, but is still very young and will need time to improve his skills. The loss of Ramon Sessions leaves the door open for Jennings to assume a starting role at some point during the season. The Bucks arenít going to be a powerhouse, so donít expect a lot out of him this season.


Carlos Delfino: Delfino played in Europe in 2008 after four seasons in the NBA. He should be able to help out right away with the Bucks, either at guard or the small forward position.




Sleeper:



Ersan Ilyasova: The Bucks donít appear to have a very good team so itís hard to point to any one player as a sleeper. Theyíll try out a lot of guys at different positions as they look towards the future. Ilyasova showed promise before leaving for Europe and recent reports on him have been favorable.



Bust:



Michael Redd: Redd is still going to take his shots, but he may be slower after ACL surgery. Heís also 30 years old and has seen his scoring average drop in each of the last two seasons. This has all the makings of a possible quick decline.







Article first appeared on 9/21/09