by Tom King
NBA basketball has usually been a hard sell in Wisconsin. Outside of Milwaukee most hoops fans are more interested in college games than the Bucks. it hasnt helped that for the most part, the Bucks have usually fielded a mediocre team and hovered right around the edges of playoff contention every year.
Many pundits see the team as not making the playoffs this season. I'm not that pessimistic. The Bucks just barely made the playoffs last season and were quickly swept by Miami in the first round. you could tell that the team was splintered...some guys didnt want to be there. Managment decided to clean house and boy did they ever.
A new coach and 11 new players may be the biggest re-modeling job ever done to an NBA team in one off-season. And I think after an initial feeling-out process this team can be more than decent. They brought in some solid veterans like Caron Butler & OJ Mayo. Both can score...something the Bucks were clearly lacking last season. Two new point guards and Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour. I like the veteran Ridnour more than Knight but both should be more than serviceable. Up front the Bucks are led by Larry Sanders (one of the best defenders in the league), Irsan Ilyasova and John Henson who should take a major step forward with more minutes. And I like the #1 draft pick. They may have caught lightning in a bottle with Giannis Antetokounmpo. He has looked very impressive in the pre-season and has earned some minutes off the bench.
I'm not saying this team is comparable to the Bulls or Heat...but as Herb Kohl said yesterday they will not be tanking games to get a higher draft pick like some teams are apparantly going to do this season. How that is allowed by the league is a topic for another day.
The Bucks begin the regular season Wednesday night in New York. You can hear the Bucks on Foxsports1390 & FM 93.9.