2011 NBA Offseason: Milwaukee Bucks

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Milwaukee Bucks (Last Year: 35-47)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

I liked Tobias Harris the college player better than I like him as a potential NBA player, but he does have a lot of upside. Jon Leuer is a very solid get at No. 40 and will add some versatility to the frontcourt. Factor in the trade Milwaukee made, and I think they certainly got a little better. (Team Grade: Makes sense)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

19. Tobias Harris, F, Tennessee
My biggest concern with Harris is that he is a tweener forward who is not physical enough to be a three but not quick enough to be a three. The Bucks did just trade Corey Maggette though so they did have a need for a small forward. (Pick Grade: Meh)

40. Jon Leuer, PF, Wisconsin
I covered Leuer extensively in college. He has a nice inside/outside game to go along with great size at 6-11. He could find a role in Milwaukee who needs a versatile scorer in their frontcourt. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
A year after earning the six seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks felt they were a couple of pieces away from being one of the top four teams out East. So general manager John Hammond inked John Salmons and Drew Gooden to long-term deals and traded for Corey Maggette and his hefty contract. Rather than taking a step toward the next level, the Bucks disappointed last season and missed the playoffs. So what went wrong?

Injuries are a great place to start. Coming off a terrific rookie season, Brandon Jennings missed 19 games, forcing Milwaukee to rely on Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins to run the point. When Jennings got healthy, it took him a while to return to his old self, and his production was sporadic.

Three other expected starters missed lengthy periods as well. Andrew Bogut was sidelined for 17 games, Carlos Delfino for 33 games, and Gooden for 47 games. The Bogut and Gooden injuries were especially damaging to the team when they crossed over because it left Milwaukee incredibly thin up front and relying on the likes of Larry Sanders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova. Maggette was also banged up during the year and Michael Redd was never a factor as he continued to recover from a second torn ACL.

Salmons was healthy for most of the season but really struggled with his shot, hitting just 41.5 percent from the field. Chris Douglas-Roberts showed flashes at times but failed to find a consistent spot in Scott Skiles’ rotation.

Now the Bucks enter the offseason in need of some upgrades but have little cap flexibility due to the moves Hammond made last offseason.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Andrew Bogut/Larry Sanders

PF: Drew Gooden/^Luc Richard Mbah a Moute/Ersan Ilyasova/Jon Brockman/Jon Leuer

SF: Carlos Delfino/Tobias Harris

SG: Stephen Jackson

PG: Brandon Jennings/Beno Udrih/Keyon Dooling/Shaun Livingston

NBA Free Agents:

SG-Michael Redd (UFA)

PG-Earl Boykins (UFA)

^F-Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (RFA)

SG-Chris Douglas-Roberts (UFA)

Offseason Transactions:

Bucks acquire SG Stephen Jackson, PG Beno Udrih, PG Shaun Livingston, and 19th pick (Tobias Harris) in 3-team trade for SG John Salmons, SF Corey Maggette, and 10th pick (Jimmer Fredette)

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $51.9 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Scorers: Fun fact: the Bucks were 33-11 this past season when they scored more than 90 points in a game. You know that a Scott Skiles-coached team is going to get after it on the defensive end, but the numbers speak for themselves about what happens when the Bucks combined their defensive effort with scoring the basketball.

An easy solution for Milwaukee upping their offensive production next season would be getting healthy and having Salmons return to the level he played when the Bucks acquired him for the stretch run of the 2009-10 season. However, it certainly would not hurt to have some more scoring punch especially off the bench.

2. Athletic Wing: Of the returning Bucks players, Jennings is really the only one who can use his quickness to get to create off the bounce on a regular basis. Salmons and Delfino are more jump shooters, while Maggette relies on his strength to overpower opponents and get to the free throw line. Milwaukee could use an athletic wing who can slash to the basket especially with a hole at the two guard since Michael Redd and Chris Douglas-Roberts are free agents.

3. Backup Center: Andrew Bogut has been injury-prone the past few seasons and the Bucks do not have a true backup center. Gooden could play spurts in the middle as could Larry Sanders, but Milwaukee should look to add a true big man. Addressing this need will likely have to come via free agency since the 2011 NBA Draft is very thin of true center prospects.

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