Blog Entry

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

Posted on: August 23, 2010 7:26 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2010 9:34 am
Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We kick off our Pop Quiz series with the following question...

Is Milwaukee Legit?

The Bucks had terrible prospects going into last season. Considered an Eastern-Conference also-ran, with a questionable "centerpiece" center in Andrew Bogut and a reach of a first-rounder in Brandon Jennings, no one expected them to succeed. And yet, despite all the criticisms constantly lobbed at Scott Skiles, his team did what his teams do best. They defended like samurai, attacked the glass, and won far more games than they were expected to. Additionally, Brandon Jennings made a legitimate push for Rookie of the Year, an award he likely would have won were it not for Tyreke Evans' historic performance (with apologies to Stephen Curry's wheeling and dealing). Jennings had nights where his questionable shot selection, fueled by the kind of confident sense of bravado you want in your superstar, hurt the team, but more often than not, he proved himself exactly what the team has needed for a decade: a true star.

But that was last season. And after Andrew Bogut's arm injury has him still trying to fight through rehab
, the question has to be asked. Are the Bucks legit, or was last season the type of spike that fans will look back on as the high point, followed by a long slide back to the margins?  If we're going to try and suss out the answer, we need to look at their strengths and weaknesses.

The Bucks were the fourth best defense last season (we're talking defensive efficiency here, don't fall for the fallacy of points per game, which doesn't account for pace). They were fourth in opponents' turnover ratio but only tenth in opponents' field goal percentage (45.1%). But very relevant? They were fourth best at defending at the rim . That's got a lot to do with Bogut, who was an absolute iron curtain down low. But Ersan Ilyasova, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and even Dan Gadzuric were all good at attacking anyone that dared challenge the Bucks at the iron. They were also sixth in three-point defense. What this means is that the two most efficient areas on the floor, the Bucks were exceptional at. Their only real area of problems, defensively? 10-15 Feet, where they were dead last in field goal percentage allowed. So the Bucks really needed to upgrade their wing and mid-range defenders.

Which is fitting, because similarly their wing offense was also where they desperately needed help. The Bucks' offense in general was a mess , but with Jennings and Bogut, they at least have cornerstones to work with. The addition John Salmons was significant for improving their scoring distribution, and Carlos Delfino proved to be a valuable asset as well. The best news for the Bucks is that they improved precisely at that position, filling in for the injured now-trade-chip Michael Redd with Corey Maggette, while only losing Gadzuric and seldom-used wing Charlie Bell.

The Bucks improved at the position they needed to, adding both Salmons (and subsequently re-signing him) and also added a ton of muscle down low by drafting Larry Sanders and adding Drew Gooden in free agency. While Gooden's usage is a bit high, he does provide somewhat of a backup plan in case Andrew Bogut continues to struggle recovering from the arm injury. That said, just as it was in the playoffs, this team's chances are tied to Bogut. Bogut has to not only recover, but re-assume his position as a premier big man in the league if the Bucks are going to repeat their success of last year. Similarly, Brandon Jennings has to take a step forward, grow a sense that maybe that off-balance 18-foot jumper on the run is not the best option offensively for this particular moment of time, regardless of how hot he "feels."

This is a team sound throughout its principles and structure. But its superstars will have to take steps forward if they're going to keep pace with the rest of an improved Eastern Conference.

Finally, the real test for if this team is legit is if Skiles manages to get the same effort night after night from this team that he did last season. There's been a pattern with Skiles' losing the ears of his players with the incessant yelling and discipline, and it'll be up to him to show some restraint and trust. Not exactly something he's known for. But Skiles has improved in his coaching style, so it's not out of the realm of possibility.

At the end of the day, the Bucks won with defense, rebounding, a dynamic point guard and stellar center. That's a formula that's been relied on to win. Throw in the fact that they added to their team while losing no essential component, and while it's not a sure thing, it's safe to say you can legitimately fear the deer for another year. That was an unfortunate rhyme.

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Since: Dec 30, 2009
Posted on: August 24, 2010 10:19 am

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

If Bogut would have been healthy in the playoffs last year, we would have definitely beaten Atlanta.  Josh Smith and their big guys just killed us down low.  This team does not care about criticisms because they just use it to motivate them.  Almost everyone predicted them to finish last or second-last in 2009, but they proved them wrong.  Keeping Salmons was huge and hopefully Michael Redd will be saying goodbye soon.  This team buys into Skiles' system and they will make you work for every one of your baskets.

We are not a fluke.  Fear.  The.  Deer.

Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: August 24, 2010 6:42 am

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

As  Bucks fan, I love to focus on the upside. And the upside is nice. However, being a realist, I also know that when a team makes an unexpected rise one year, it's often followed by a year that's not quite as good or maybe a plateau as other teams take them seriously. Then, the following year, the progress continues, barring unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes, there's just a one-year lag between the time you think they're going to bust out and the time they really do. I hope it's this year. With Andrew Bogut slowly healing, it may be the playoffs or next year. 

Since: Mar 28, 2010
Posted on: August 24, 2010 12:56 am

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

The Bulls will win their division so you've got to at least make them 4th seed, and the hawks would probably be 5th seed. Then bucks at six, and i think its gonna be cavs bobcats and knicks fighting it out for the last two spots...maybe even washington too. The raptors are gonna be awful; they didn't even make the playoffs with bosh this year! They got knocked out the last day; they have no talent and no heart. To top it all off, calderon just got injured in fiba exhibition play. The cavs will be a very different team but they still have some talent. Jamison can certainly lead and i think iverson would be a good pickup for them. Knicks are a brand new team which is capable of being a 7-8 seed and the bobcats are the 7 seed they were last year - felton. I say:HeatCelticsMagicBullsHawksBucks

Cavs vs Heat in the first round:)

Since: May 14, 2008
Posted on: August 23, 2010 11:55 pm

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

The Bucks are a lock to make the playoffs IF Andrew Bogut can come back healthy and be effective.  Bogut is the center piece to the franchise and makes everyone around him better.  He is one of the most underappreciated big men in the game.  He plays superb defense and never gets recognized for his ability to take charges, clog the paint and block shots.  Bogut could possibly miss the first month of the season.

The Bucks were a solid team that meshed extremely well as the season progressed.  Their team defense was one of the most elite in the NBA.  Larry Sanders and Drew Gooden were solid additions in the offseason along with resigning John Salmons to fill the offensive void left from the loss of Michael Redd.  Salmons can at least play defense and involves his teammates unlike Redd.  The Bucks were a hot team heading into the playoffs last season and padded their roster in the offseason.  The problem is a lot of teams in the East stacked their rosters as well in the offseason.

Last season, the Bucks were the 5th seed.  Chicago and Miami finished as lower seeds than the Bucks.  With the additions the Bulls and Heat made, it is extremely hard to think the Bucks can stay ahead of those two teams.  Also, the Bucks have not done enough to jump ahead of Boston, Orlando or Atlanta.

DiTitaniumBlade, I agree with your seeds with the exception of the Bucks and Bulls; I would flip flop them.  That being said, watch out for the Bucks come playoff time.  They could surprise an elite team in the East.   

Since: Jun 16, 2010
Posted on: August 23, 2010 11:42 pm

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

Well, now that the Cavaliers had trimmed down heavily, Bucks have a better chance this coming season than last season. The Bucks were one win away from advancing to the Eastern semifinal of last year's playoff, lost to the Hawks on game 7. If anything, this article should focus more on the Bobcats, they are more questionable team to make a run to the playoff. Anyway, the Bucks are most likely to be back, but what seed? Well, here's my pick:

1. Boston Celtics/Miami Heats
2. Boston Celtics/Miami Heats
3. Orlando Magics
4. Atlanta Hawks
5. Milwaukee Bucks
6. Chicago Bulls
7. Charlotte Bobcats
8. Toronto Raptors

Since: Nov 1, 2006
Posted on: August 23, 2010 11:04 pm

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

Having NO Lebron James in the Central doesn't hurt the Bucks chances either in 2010-11.


Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: August 23, 2010 10:12 pm

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

Go Bucks!

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