If the Milwaukee Bucks want to be successful and reach the playoffs in the upcoming season, they will need several players to have big years. With that being said, who is the one player that will be the most important asset to the team in 2013-14?
After his breakout season in 2012-13, there is no question center Larry Sanders is the one player that must consistently perform at a high level in order for Milwaukee to be competitive. Sanders averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game last year. He will have to go above that in order to be a difference maker for the Bucks going forward.
The 24-year-old’s superior defensive performance last season allowed the Bucks to hold opponents on offense, while also having one of the better defensive teams in the league. Sanders was a big reason why Milwaukee ranked second in the NBA in blocks (6.7), fifth in rebounds (43.9) and eighth in steals (8.4) per game. His leadership on the defensive end is something that must continue.
The Bucks are expected to have an even better defense this season after getting rid of guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, both of whom clearly did not know how to prevent someone from dribbling down the middle. Not to mention, Sanders’ presence around the basket should make the newcomers to the team better on defense as well.
There is no doubt in my mind that Milwaukee will only go as far as Sanders takes them. It is true that O.J. Mayo, Caron Butler and Ersan Ilyasova are capable of leading the team on any given night. However, it is Sanders who has become the face of the franchise, which means it will be up to him to set the tone.