Re: For the Bucks fans
Biggest Weakness: Long-Range Shooting
The Bucks worked diligently in the offseason to address the lack of one-on-one scoring and the pitifully few free throw attempts that plagued their offense in 2009-10. Maggette's addition alone should bring them up to the league average in free throw attempts. Combining him with Salmons and Douglas-Roberts provides the Bucks with more shot-creating capability.
Now they face a different challenge: creating enough space for all their scorers to operate. Milwaukee has lots of players who can create shots, but opponents will be able to collapse against the likes of Bogut and Maggette unless somebody emerges to stretch opposing defenses.
The most likely suspect is Jennings, who notched a respectable 37.4 percent of his 3s last season and will need to continue doing so -- he's the one who will always be available for a kickout at the top of the key. Salmons (36.7 percent career) and Delfino (36.1 percent) are the next-best threats, giving Milwaukee a few average perimeter marksmen … and that's about it.
Maggete (32.1 percent career) and Douglas-Roberts (25.8 percent) aren't 3-point threats. Ilyasova likes to take 3s but made only 33.6 percent last season. Dooling had a good year shooting the ball last season but is at a modest 35.1 percent for his career. Mbah a Moute, Gooden, Bogut and Brockman don't shoot 3s at all.
As a result, Milwaukee is likely to shoot in the low 30s on 3s as a team. And without a 40 percent 3-point threat on the outside, teams will collapse and dare the likes of Jennings and Salmons to beat them from distance, making life much harder in the paint for Maggette and Bogut. The one player who could change that is Redd, but he's unlikely to be a participant this season.
Fear the deer. The Bucks won 46 games last season with numerous flaws, and they spent the offseason aggressively addressing most of those weaknesses. The only real decline will come at backup point guard, where the Dooling-Boykins combo is unlikely to approach Ridnour's career year.
Nonetheless, there is plenty of room for optimism. The Bucks have a pair of second-tier stars in Bogut and Maggette, and the hope that Jennings and even Salmons might join them in that category. Moreover, they are one of the deepest teams in basketball and should be able to match up in any way needed.
In projecting the Bucks' record, I had two big questions. The obvious one is health. Bogut's elbow is one concern, but the oft-injured Maggette's availability is another. Both players have enough of an injury history that I was conservative with minutes estimates for each; if they can stay healthy for 75 games, the Bucks will achieve beyond what I've written here.
The other confounding prospect is the defense. It's a credit to Skiles that the Bucks played so hard last season and finished third in defensive efficiency, but it also begs the question of whether they're doomed to regress. Most of the new players aren't accomplished defenders, most notably Maggette, so this is another source of potential slippage.
Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine this team missing out on the playoffs. If the D holds up, the Bucks should be in the mix for one of the top seeds in the East. If so, Milwaukee will continue a remarkable and unexpected shift to prominence from what seemed a hopeless situation two seasons ago.
Prediction: 49-33, 1st in Central Division, 4th in Eastern Conference