5 Changes the Milwaukee Bucks Must Make This Offseason
Changes the Milwaukee Bucks Should Make This Offseason
The Milwaukee Bucks as an organization has been a head scratcher. With interim coach Jim Boylan at the helm, the team squeaked into the playoffs. They had not secured a playoff berth in three years. They had the opportunity to control their destiny if they managed to win their last few games. Instead, they lost seven of their last 10 games, and were stuck as the eighth seed to face the top-seeded Miami Heat.
The Bucks chose not to extend Boylan's contract. They've hired former Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew, which is an upgrade. Boylan was 22-28 for the Bucks while Drew was 44-38 with the Hawks.
The Bucks have made some minor changes to their roster. Lead scorer Monta Ellis has bolted for the Dallas Mavericks. Little used and best perimeter defender, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, was traded to the Sacramento Kings. Forward Mike Dunleavy has signed with the Chicago Bulls. The only big offseason move was signing OJ Mayo to a three-year deal. The Bucks have lost a lot of firepower and their defense has gotten even worse, and the team was already awful on defense.
While the team was not very busy in the offseason, their future looks good. Larry Sanders was a front runner for Most Improved Player as he averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in only 27 minutes per game. Meanwhile, power forward John Henson really shined in the Summer League. First round draft pick Giannis Antetokounmpo will stay in Greece, but he has great upside. Ish Smith is a speedy point guard who knows how to use it and is working on his jumper. That's a solid, young nucleus right there. Read on to see how the Bucks can further improve their team.
5. Improve the Team's Defense
Last season, the Bucks ranked 20th in defense. They gave up more points than they produced. While Sanders looked impressive with his 2.8 blocks per game average, it was because no on else on the team played any defense. The biggest culprit was the Bucks' starting backcourt of Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Both players had difficulty defending the other team's guards. The Bucks should pick up a bigger guard who can play reasonable defense. Having Henson play alongside Sanders may help, too. With two 7'0'' shot blockers patrolling the paint, the other team would be cautious driving inside.
4. Trade Some of the Frontcourt Players
The Bucks currently have Sanders, Henson, Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova, Epke Udoh and Miroslav Raduljica. That's six players available to play power forward and center. Some of these guys need to go. Trade some of these players in exchange for a legit low-post scorer or a scoring guard.
3. Fill out the Backcourt
The Bucks only have four guards signed so far. They are Luke Ridnour, Smith, Mayo and Carlos Delfino. Ronnie Brewer is a good start. He'll provide some defensive help.
2. Get More Offensive Weapons
The Ellis-Jennings backcourt experiment did not fare very well. They both were volume shooters and ball-dominant. However, Ellis was the better player. While Jennings declined throughout the season, Ellis improved his game. He averaged 19 points, six assists, nearly four rebounds and two steals. Sadly, Ellis has moved onto the Mavericks. While Mayo is a decent replacement, he's no superstar. When Dirk Nowitzki was out for the first half of the season, Mayo averaged 20 points in November, 17 points in December and 17 points again in January. His shot attempts remained at about 14 per game and he averaged 4.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds. In essence, his numbers declined when he was the go-to guy and it decreased even more when Dirk returned to the lineup.
Meanwhile, Ellis picked up his game in the second half. With Jennings being a non factor most of the time, Ellis averaged about 22 points, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals while chucking 17 shots per game. The Bucks should get another player who can score because Mayo doesn't play like the primary scorer if he's in that position. They can solve that problem by trading one of their excessive big men and Jennings for a proven scorer.
1. Resolve Brandon Jennings Issue
Restricted free agent Jennings has not created much buzz. No shocker there. Jennings has been the team's second worst player. He's -6.25 points per 100 possessions based off of 721 minutes of playing time. When the team played small ball with J.J. Redick in the lineup, that pair was -9.4 points per 100 possessions on 295 minutes of data. Smith should be the future point guard, not Jennings. The Bucks can re-sign Jennings to a qualifying offer and then trade him before the trade deadline. The main thing is to not keep Jennings. He can't shoot nor can he play defense.