Besides missing the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons, the big news out of Milwaukee was the trade of former no. 1 overall pick, Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors for guard Monta Ellis.
The deal transformed the Bucks from a defensive minded, slow-it-down team into an up-tempo, run-and-gun squad. Milwaukee played its last 23 games over .500 after the trade, but it still wasn't enough to catch the eighth seeded 76ers.
Bench Strength - They may not all be household names, but the Bucks roster features an impressive combination of inside and outside talent that goes 12 deep. When coach Scott Skiles turns to his bench there is little drop-off in talent or production. Up front, Drew Gooden, Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders provide a solid combination of offense and defense, while Mike Dunleavy and Beno Udrih are reliable perimeter players. Those five will be supplemented in 2012-13 with rookies Henson and Lamb, who will have to perform well if they expect to be given minutes.
Can Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings co-exist as score first guards?
Roster Flexibility - While the trade of Bogut to the Warriors may not initially been viewed as a win for the Bucks, they should come out on top in the long term. The deal, which also included the shipping out of Stephen Jackson, was one of a series of moves made by GM John Hammond that allows Milwaukee to have virtually no serious contract commitments moving forward, beyond the talented Irsan Ilyasova. This position gives the Bucks close to a blank slate when it comes to building their roster -- something that in a league riddled with bad contracts, few teams are able to do.
Clashing Guards - The trading of Bogut netted the Bucks the talented Ellis, but also left the team with a pair of guards that have similar styles and mindsets. Both Ellis and Brandon Jennings are ball-dominating, shoot-first guards that struggle to defend due to their size. The Bucks will try and convert Jennings to a more traditional, pass-first point guard, knowing the Warriors tried and failed to do the same with Ellis. If they are able to co-exist and thrive, the Bucks can be dangerous. But both are free agents at the end of the season, so if the experiment doesn't work, one or both will likely be moved before they hit the open market.
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A pair of gunning guards and decent depth keeps the Bucks competitive.
Monta Ellis is the top-rated Buck at 23rd overall
Too Much of The Same - Although the Bucks roster is as deep as any in the league, the problem Milwaukee has is that there is not much diversity among the talent. The team lacks a true point guard, doesn't have a reliable swingman that can both defend and score and -- with the departure of Bogut -- don't have a big man who can score consistently in the post. The abundance of quality players combined with the holes on the roster seem to point to one or more trades going forward, unless players like Jennings can make the adjustments necessary.
X Factor: Ersan Ilyasova
The 25-year-old big man made big improvements to his game in 2011-12, particularly in his three-point shooting, raising his percentage from below 30 percent, to nearly 46. He signed a big extension with the team in the off-season and is already a solid rebounder, averaging nearly nine per game to go along with 13 points, despite playing less than 28 minutes per contest. If he is able to develop his post and inside game, Milwaukee may have a potential All-Star on their hands.
What to Expect
The Bucks are an intriguing team to watch heading into 2012-13 because their record has the potential to fluctuate in such a huge way. If all the pieces fail to mesh, the team could undergo a massive roster overhaul that could completely transform their identity going forward. However, if Jennings and Ellis can co-exist and if Ilyasova continues to get better, they should find themselves in a playoff spot.
Tim Chisholm's Offseason Grade
The two major Bucks additions this summer, Sam Dalembert and John Henson, should help provide protection for the undersized backcourt that Milwaukee will be starting, but they also add to a logjam in the big man rotation with Drew Gooden, Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders and Joel Przybilla.
The Bucks are a team searching for stability, but looking at the current makeup of this squad you have to assume that more moves are necessary to balance out the roster.
They're talking Playoffs in Milwaukee, but some more activity in the offseason would have made that an easier goal to take seriously.