Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Offseason winners: Milwaukee Bucks

2014-2015 Milwaukee Bucks
The Young Bucks
2013-2014 record: 15-67

The Bucks got a bit carried away with last year's Riggin' For Wiggins tank fest, beating the tank-happy 76ers at their own game, and collecting a franchise-low 15 wins in 2013-2014 to improve their odds in last June's NBA Draft. Unlike Philadelphia, GM John Hammond doesn't intend to stay in the lottery forever. He added No. 2 pick Jabari Parker and some solid pieces to his young core, brought in a new coach to guide the youngsters, and is generally steering the franchise in a new direction.

The formidable backcourt of scoring guard O.J. Mayo, former No. 8 pick Brandon Knight (17.4 PPG and 4.9 APG last season) and sophomore Nate Wolters remains intact, as does the tantalizing frontcourt of Ersan IlyasovaKhris Middleton, 19-year old Greek of nature Giannis Antetokounmpo (who apparently grew two inches over the summer), $11 million man Larry SandersChris Wright (not J.R.'s brother), John Henson and former Hawks center Zaza Pachulia. Ramon Sessions (who averaged a career-high 15.8 PPG last season and is on the Rocket's radar) and former Warrior Ekpe Udoh (who is headed to the Clippers) would have been nice keeps, but their production should be replaced.

With former Blue Devil Jabari Parker replacing Caron Butler (who bolted for Detroit), 3-and-D forward Jared Dudley coming over from the Clippers for Carlos Delfino (who missed the entire 2013-2014 campaign with a broken bone in his foot) and reserve center Miroslav Raduljica, and the additions of former No. 8 pick Kendall Marshall (who averaged 8.0 PPG and 8.8 APG for the injury-ravaged Lakers last season), journeyman guard Jerryd Bayless (a sparkplug for five teams in the past six seasons), the Bucks will surely be fun to watch. Add rookies Damien Inglis and Johnny O'Bryant to the mix, and the 2014-2015 squad is the second-youngest team in the NBA, with an average age of 24.4.

2014-2014 prediction:

The Bucks appear to have a solid foundation in place for the future. It's up to new coach Jason Kidd, whom the team acquired from the Brooklyn Nets for a pair of picks, to cultivate the talent at his disposal and accumulate wins. They're a young bunch, but with Parker as NBA-ready as rookies come, and a talented bunch of point guards, shooters and big men to surround him with, the Bucks should definitely be able to win more than 15 games and turn the page to a new chapter.

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