NBA Milwaukee Bucks

5 Milwaukee Bucks Who Need To Step Up This Season

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5 Bucks Who Need To Step It Up This Season

Mary Lagenfield-USA TODAY Sports

People talk about various curses when it comes to professional sports championships, and they are usually the ramblings of a superstitious, championship-starved fan base. But there seems to be some validity to it in some instances. The Chicago Cubs franchise, for example, has to be cursed. They last won a World Series over a century ago. Usually, a sports curse is traced back to a single moment in history. But when it comes to a franchise like the Milwaukee Bucks your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps we can call it the curse of Lew Alcindor?

There are teams that are great, there are teams that are horrible and then there are teams like the Bucks. Teams that wallow in mediocrity and whose various owners haven't had a clue as to what is necessary to take the team to the next level. The last time the Milwaukee Bucks were within shouting distance of an NBA championship, Sam Cassell, Ray Allen and Glen Robinson seemed more interested in who got more shots per minute than actually winning.

The Bucks have always had pretty good players and also have drafted well. So, I say again, your guess is as good as mine as to why it seems like they're a lead pipe lock to be a .500 team year in and year out. This season's rendition of the team features another group of really good athletes that might not necessarily mesh with one another well enough to win -- and that, after all, is why they play. The goal is actually an NBA championship, is it not?

This slideshow contains a list of five players currently on the Bucks' roster that will need to step it up in order for this team to at least contend in the Eastern Conference this season. Though he is not on this slideshow, I would like to give a special shout out to PG Brandon Knight. Him realizing his full potential would be a bonus of all bonuses. It's not all about crossover dribbles and one-on-one clear outs, bro. Better decisions with the basketball are paramount to winning. 2.7 turnovers per game is just too much.

Ricardo Hazell is a freelance basketball and football writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.

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5. SF Caron Butler

Mary Lagenfield-USA TODAY Sports

Caron Butler seems to get shipped off right when a team he is on is about to reach the top. That was true of his stint in Miami and with the Los Angeles Lakers as well. If history tells us anything, then the Clippers are about to shock the world. Perhaps not, but Butler does give the Bucks an 11-year veteran who has seen it all and has an idea of what it takes to be a professional ball player in the NBA. If the young players buy what he's selling, then that should go a long way toward team camaraderie and on-court cohesiveness.

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4. SG O.J. Mayo

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Okay O.J. You're now on a team where you are clearly the prime offensive threat on the perimeter. There are no aging superstars siphoning off your per game shot attempts and no lofty expectations either. All you have to do is what you have done almost your entire life: put the ball in the basket! But now you must do so with more consistency and fervor than ever before if the Bucks are going to be worth watching this season.

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3. SG-PG Gary Neal

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Gary Neal has proven himself to be as clutch a player as any third year player in the NBA. The Towson State product would prefer to score, but can play the point effectively if pressed into service and can guard both backcourt positions as well. He has averaged nine points per game each season he has been in the league. Is 13 per game too much to ask for this season? I don't think it is.

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2. SG Carlos Delfino

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Delfino has proven himself to be the consummate role player. All he does is hit his shots at a high clip, play defense as hard as he can and jump into passing lanes. With players like Knight, Butler and O.J. Mayo drawing the bulk of the defensive attention, you can eat well, Carlos. So gorge yourself with a 15-point average. With his skill set and shooting ability, that shouldn't be a problem at all. Also, he can sub in and play either guard position as well.

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1. C-F Larry Sanders

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Larry Sanders' play was kind of indicative of the Bucks' franchise as a whole last year. He shows flashes of brilliancem but will follow those games up with stinkers. Still, his efforts were good enough to average nine points and nine rebounds last season. Extreme athleticism and shot-blocking are his bread and butter. Sanders needs to up his production in every category for Milwaukee to return to respectability. A consistent mid-range jumpshot and a go-to move would be nice as well.