Will Milwaukee Bucks’ Bigger Front Court Pay Off This Season?

By Michael Terrill

The Milwaukee Bucks knew what they had to do in the offseason to improve their basketball team for the 2012-13 NBA season. They had to get more height around the basket with a conventional center to play the position in order to get back to where head coach Scott Skiles wants his defense to be. With a bigger front court, will the Bucks improve enough to make the postseason?

Milwaukee acquired 6-foot-11 Samuel Dalembert in a trade with the Houston Rockets, 7-foot-1 Joel Przybilla in free agency and 6-foot-11 rookie John Henson in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft. Dalembert will be the starting center and an upgrade at the position from a year ago, when power forward Drew Gooden was forced to play in the middle after Andrew Bogut suffered a season-ending injury.

Dalembert is not known to be an offensive scorer, but he did average 7.5 points per 22.2 minutes last season. He is also a career 51.8 percent shooter from the field, including 50.6 percent last year. Dalembert’s game is on defense, in which he averaged 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks with the Rockets in 2011-12. Those numbers are slightly lower than his career averages.

Milwaukee brought in Przybilla for some insurance at the center position in case a player gets injured or Skiles wants to put up a defensive wall towards the end of the game. Expect the 6-foot-10 Ekpe Udoh and the 6-foot-11 Larry Sanders to get most of the backup playing time at center, a position they both thrived in last year.

Considering the 31-year-old Dalembert, 30-year-old Gooden and 32-year-old Przybilla do not have the endurance as they used to, a lot will be asked of the youngsters in order to win ball games. Ersan Ilyasova, Udoh and Sanders will have to step their game up even more this season if the Bucks want to win. I expect these three players to score plenty and hold down the front defensively. It is when these men are in the game Milwaukee will take the lead and hold it until the last whistle is blown.

As of right now, Gooden is listed at No. 1 on the depth chart for power forward, but I personally believe Ilyasova will get the nod once the season rolls around. Gooden will still do well off the bench as he will be able to have his way with the opposing backups.

Henson will not see much playing time in his rookie year unless injuries take their toll on the team as they did last season. Henson will get a great opportunity to watch proven veterans play the game the right way and bulk up in the weight room in order to handle the physicality of the NBA.

With several outstanding additions mixed with already great defensive players, the Bucks will not only be good at holding teams down but they will also win more games. That mixed in with an explosive offense led by Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and Ilyasova–expect Milwaukee to be a top six seed once the playoffs roll around.

Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.

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