Team Preview #24: Milwaukee Bucks
by Eric Wong AKA Roto EvilSeptember 4th, 2008
LAST SEASONThe Bucks went 26-56 under coach Larry Krystowiak, and have now lost 110 games over the past 2 seasons. They finished 11th in field goals attempted (82.2), but just 20th in points (97.0) per game, and were mediocre in almost every other category.
Right after the season ended, Scott Skiles agreed to a multi-year deal to be the Bucks' new head coach.
OFFSEASON MOVESKey Additions: R. Jefferson, L. Ridnour, T. Lue, F. Elson, A. Griffin, M. Allen, D. Jones, J. Alexander
Key Losses: Mo Williams, Yi Jianlian, Bobby Simmons, Desmond Mason, Royal Ivey
Milwaukee made some bold moves over the summer to try and strengthen their current team and the future of their franchise. First, they traded away Yi & Simmons to New Jersey for Richard Jefferson to upgrade at small forward. Later, they got rid of Mo Williams and his $43 million contract (along with Desmond Mason) for Luke Ridnour, Adrian Griffin, and Damon Jones.
They also picked up veterans Tyronn Lue, Malik Allen, and Francisco Elson via free agency for added depth & leadership. In the draft, they selected forwards Joe Alexander at #8 and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at #37. In one of the funniest & most intriguing DraftExpress comparisons, Alexander's best-case scenario is listed as a "super athletic Matt Harpring." Both players lack polish, so they may not contribute right away.
ROTATION / PLAYING TIMELet's start at center, where Andrew Bogut played 34.1 minutes before the All-Star break last season, but 36.6 afterwards. He was much better in the 2nd half, so mark him down for 36 mpg in '08-09. Elson & Dan Gadzuric will battle for backup minutes. The departure of Yi to New Jersey opens up more minutes for Charlie Villanueva at power forward. The 24-year old has struggled since his solid rookie campaign, but without Jianlian cramping his style, I'm projecting Charlie's minutes to shoot up from 24 to 30+ and him having a possible breakout season. Malik Allen will come off the bench and play 10-12 mpg. At small forward, Richard Jefferson will see around 38 minutes of action, while I'm projecting the rookie Alexander to get 14-16 minutes backing up both forward spots. Don't forget about Adrian Griffin, who can still be a defensive stopper when they need him.
At shooting guard, Michael Redd will get his usual 37-39 minutes per game while Charlie Bell backs him up. The real battle here is at point guard, where Luke Ridnour, Ramon Sessions, Tyronn Lue, and Damon Jones will all vie for minutes. Don't forget that Skiles still holds the NBA record for most assists in a game with 30, so he won't be giving out minutes to just anyone. Due to his experience advantage, I'm penciling in Ridnour as the opening day starter. I'm projecting 26-28 mpg for Luke to start the season, while Sessions gets 16-18 minutes and Lue gets the rest of the PT. However, if Ridnour falters, don't be surprised to see Sessions emerge as the starter and put up big numbers.
DON'T SLEEP ON: Andrew BogutAfter the All-Star break, Andrew Bogut was a rock solid fantasy center. In 25 games, he averaged 16.3 points, 11.6 boards, 2.8 assists, 1 steal, and 1.7 blocks in 36.6 minutes per game, while shooting 53.4% FG. In perhaps the most ridiculous stat increase of '07-08, he blocked 1 every 20.2 minutes last season after swatting just 1 shot every 64.5 minutes in '06-07. He was consistent too, as he rejected 1.75 shots per game before the break, and 1.68 per afterwards.
His FT% sucks, but I'm high on Bogut because I think the addition of R-Jeff is really going to help him. The Aussie is one of the best passing big men in the league, and adding an athletic slasher like Jefferson can only mean good things. The guy dished out a career-high 3.0 assists per game in '06-07, and could challenge that number in '08-09. With less pressure on him offensively, his already solid FG% should also improve. Bogut turns 24 in November and is still improving, so don't hesitate to use a Top 75 pick on him.
BE CAREFUL OF: Luke Ridnour & Ramon SessionsI'm not a big fan of Luke Ridnour, but at 27 years old, he has a lot more experience than Sessions. A change of scenery should also help Ridnour out a lot, as he can't play much worse than he did in Seattle last season. And even if Ramon outplays Luke in preseason, I'm predicting that Skiles will begin the year with Ridnour as his starting PG. How come? Well, if Ridnour starts the season on the bench, I believe his confidence would take a much bigger hit than if Sessions starts on the bench.
Meanwhile, Sessions burst onto the scene late in the year and averaged a whopping 11.5 points, 11.3 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in April, giving many fantasy owners the boost they needed to win their leagues. As a result, he has a lot of fans out there eager to gamble on him in hopes that he'll win the starting job. And if those people are blinded by the 13.1 dimes that he averaged in 7 starts last season, they could draft Ramon way too soon this year.
My advice: Don't draft either one unless they're still available in the very last rounds. If Ridnour is named starter before your draft takes place, he'll likely be gone by Round 11. Sessions is an excellent last round upside pick, but if someone gambles on him much sooner, don't worry. I'm guessing that Ramon won't get enough minutes to have value at the start of the season, so a lot of owners will drop him right away. And then, whenever it looks like Luke might falter, you can swoop in and get Sessions for free!
ROUND BY ROUND TARGETS(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)
Redd: 4th - 5th