A Look at The Milwaukee Bucks at the Start of the 2012-2013 NBA Season
Can The Milwaukee Bucks Be Competitive?
The Milwaukee Bucks are 3-1 after almost the second week of the 2012-2013 NBA season. Bucks fans' hearts were broken after the team came so close to making the playoffs after the 2011-2012 season. There is cautious optimism this year because the team seems to have a better chemistry and mixture of experienced players and developing youth. This article looks at the status of the Milwaukee Bucks prior to week one of this year, analyzes the first four games of the season, and then speculates whether Milwaukee can really be competitive.
Status of Bucks at the Start of Week One of 2012-2013 Season
The 2012 version of the Milwaukee Bucks is quite different from the 2011 season team which opened for Coach Scott Skiles in December of 2011. Gone are center Andrew Bogut; forwards John Leur, John Brockman, and Carlos Delfino; and guards Shaun Livingston and Stephen Jackson. Replacing these players are centers Samuel Dalembert and Joel Przybilla; forwards John Henson and Ekpe Udoh; and guards Doron Lamb, Monta Ellis, and Marquis Daniels.
At the beginning of the 2011 season, the Bucks had no real shooting guard, no center backups, and a lack of chemistry among new players Beno Udrih, Mike Dunleavy, Stephen Jackson, and Shaun Livingston. Larry Sanders, Tobias Harris, and John Leur were very inexperienced, and some players, most notably Stephen Jackson, did not buy into Coach Skiles' team defense scheme. Moreover, there was a fragile Andrew Bogut who missed many games with personal problems and occasional migraine headaches.
At the beginning of the 2012 season. the Bucks have a very good shooting guard in Monta Ellis who was obtained from the Golden State Warriors in a trade for center Andrew Bogut. They also have backup help at center with the additions of Samuel Dalembert and Joel Przybilla. There is now better strength at power forward with the development of Larry Sanders, the addition of Ekpe Udoh who came with Ellis from Golden State, and number one college draft choice John Henson. The team appears now to have better chemistry, and its younger players like Tobias Harris are starting to develop and get into the playing rotation.
The Bucks' 2012 Pre-Season Games
The Bucks finished 3-5 during the October pre-season games. After winning their first two games, Milwaukee struggled to win only one of the last six games. A bright spot in the preseason was the very good play of third-year center-power forward Larry Sanders, second-year player Tobias Harris, and rookies Doron Lamb and John Henson. On the dimmer side, the team was giving up too many points in the paint due to many of the newer players not completely catching on to Scott Skiles' defensive scheme.
The Bucks After The First Four Games of 2012-2013 Season
The Bucks find themselves at 3-1 after the first four games of the season. This record was earned with an opening 99-88 victory at Boston and an exciting 105-102 win in Milwaukee over Cleveland during the first week. Point guard Brandon Jennings played a key role in both wins and was chosen the Eastern Conference player of the week. In the Boston game, Jennings was very aggressive and finished with 21 points and 13 assists. Although Jennings only had 13 points in the Cleveland game, he dished out 13 assists and hit a game-winning shot with time expiring.
During the first two games of the second week, Milwaukee shot very poorly and couldn't defend in a blowout to Memphis. In the game against Washington two days later, Milwaukee reestablished its shooting, rebounded, and defended well in a 101-91 win over the Wizards.
Milwaukee's bench of Mike Dunleavy, Ekpe Udoh, Beno Udrih, and Larry Sanders have played outstandingly in almost all of the games. Dunleavy had 29 points and 11 rebounds in the Cleveland game, and Larry Sanders has scored, rebounded, and blocked shots very well in all of the games.
Future of Bucks During 2012-2013 Season
If the Bucks are to continue their winning ways in the 2012-2012 season, at least three main things must happen:
1. Jennings and Ellis Must Lead and Play Aggressive Basketball
Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis must continue to lead the team and play aggressive ball. As a point guard, Jennings must be the leader of the Bucks on the court. He must set the tempo with aggressive play as he did in the first Boston game, and he must also get other players involved with assists as he has done in most of the games. Monta Ellis must complement Jennings by shooting well and playing good defense.
2. Play Team Defense
If the Bucks are going to consistently win, they must play Scott Skiles' brand of team defense. Every team member must help out and be accountable to the team. The Bucks are not going to beat the really good teams by outscoring them. The eventual return to the team of defensive stopper, Luc Mbah a Moute, should definitely help improve the Bucks' defense.
3. Continued Strong Play From Bench Players
The four bench players of Larry Sanders, Mike Dunleavy, Ekpe Udoh, and Beno Udrih have been outstanding during the first four games. Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh must continue to defend the paint by rebounding, blocking shots, and helping the guards on defense. Mike Dunleavy has to continue to give an outstanding spark as a sixth man scorer, and Beno Udrih has to effectively handle the point when Jennings is resting.
It is heart-warming to see the Bucks off to a great start this season. If Milwaukee continues to play team defense and get support from key bench reserves, the Bucks should be competitive in every game they play, and hopefully, a playoff berth will be theirs in April of 2013.
© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn