NBA Predictions: Milwaukee Bucks Projected Starting Lineup
Milwaukee Bucks Projected Starting Lineup
After a disappointing 31-35 record last season, the Milwaukee Bucks are prepared to do whatever it takes to clinch a postseason berth and make a deep run into the playoffs. After a rare disappointing defensive season for a Scott Skiles team, the Bucks acquired some players in the off-season that should improve the statistics.
Under Skiles, Milwaukee has not been known as an offensive team but rather an aggressive defensive squad that makes opposing teams work for baskets. However, last season the Bucks ranked fifth in points per game (99.0) and third in assists per game (23.5). If they played even half the defense they have in previous years then Milwaukee would have been a team to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks were 22nd in the league in points allowed (98.7) and 12th in rebounds per game (42.5). Milwaukee acquired center Samuel Dalembert in a trade with the Houston Rockets and selected John Henson in the first round of this year’s NBA Draft to help with size around the basket. They also signed veteran Joel Przybilla for some insurance at the center position.
The Bucks have gotten bigger, stronger, and more defensive in their frontcourt, which should help guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings focus more on the offensive game. Obviously, both guards will have to play defense too but they will have a solid defensive wall behind them in case opponents get past them. The following slides are Milwaukee’s projected starting lineup for the 2012-13 NBA season.
Brandon Jennings – Point Guard
Jennings is coming off the best season of his career in which he averaged 19.1 points, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from beyond the arc. Jennings was hot and cold last season mostly due to the locker room parasite known as Stephen Jackson, who was poorly influencing him. However, with the help of Ellis, Jennings should have another terrific year.
Monta Ellis – Shooting Guard
This will be Ellis’ first full season with the Bucks, as he is looking forward to helping the starving franchise win once again. Ellis led the team in scoring (20.4 points) and assists (6.0) last season. He also recorded 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while converting 43.3 percent of his shots from the field and 30.8 percent of his 3-pointers. It will be interesting how much better Milwaukee will be with Ellis on the team for a full season.
Mike Dunleavy – Small Forward
Mike Dunleavy Jr. was one of the top candidates for Sixth Man of the Year last season, but I believe he will finally get his turn in the starting rotation. As good as second-year player Tobias Harris is, head coach Scott Skiles might find the team playing better overall with another veteran in the lineup. Dunleavy averaged 16.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and an impressive 39.9 percent beyond the arc in 26.3 minutes of game time.
Ersan Ilyasova – Power Forward
Ersan Ilyasova is another Milwaukee player who spent time last season coming off the bench but definitely deserves the starting job in 2012-13. Ilyasova led the Bucks in rebounds per game (8.8) last year and was easily the hardest working player on the team. He constantly fought hard for every possession and never gave up on a play. He is also an outstanding shooter from long range considering his size. Ilyasova averaged 13 points and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 49.2 percent and converting an incredible 45.5 percent from 3-point range.
Samuel Dalembert – Center
Dalembert will start at the center position for the Bucks this season. The 10 year veteran is by no means a top scorer but was acquired by Milwaukee to defend in the paint. Dalembert will not play as many minutes as a typical starting center would which is why the Bucks have three players behind him on the depth chart to fill in when he needs some rest. In 65 games last season with the Rockets, Dalembert averaged 7.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game while converting 50.6 percent of his shots.