2010 NBA Preview: Milwaukee Bucks


PG Brandon Jennings; Keyon Dooling

SG John Salmons; Carlos Delfino; Chris Douglas-Roberts; Michael Redd

SF Corey Maggette; Ersan Ilyasova

PF Drew Gooden; Luc Mbah a Moute; Jonathan Brockman; Larry Sanders

C Andrew Bogut; Drew Gooden; Jonathan Brockman


Seriously speaking, I am now officially impressed with the Milwaukee Bucks. Last season’s playoff appearance was arguably the last thing that I expected from them. As a recap here are three main things that led to that moral (and real) victory.

  1. They drafted Brandon Jennings, who was/is hungry to prove he can make it big here in the NBA.
  2. Andrew Bogut emerged as a force in the paint now on the bubble as an elite center in the East.
  3. They acquired poor performing John Salmons from the Bulls and turned his season around.
  4. I said “three main things,” but I cannot deny that Carlos Delfino showed flashes of brilliance as well, shades of his Toronto days.

Additions to the team:

Jon Brockman (F); trade with Sacramento Kings

Drew Gooden (F/C); signed as a free agent (LAC)

Chris Douglas-Roberts (G/F); trade with New Jersey Nets

Corey Maggette (G/F); trade with Golden State Warriors


Larry Sanders (PF); drafted 15th.

Darrington Hobson (G); drafted 37th.

Keith “Tiny” Gallon (PF); drafted 47th.

Key Losses:

Luke Ridnour (PG); signed with Minnesota Timberwolves

Dan Gadzuric (F/C); traded to Golden State Warriors

Charlie Bell (G/F); traded to Golden State Warriors

For a Sumo sized serving of player movement, don’t forget to check out GMTR’s player movement post. I believe Patrick updates it every five seconds or a week or so after transactions take place; whichever takes longer.

Brandon Jennings

Drafting him in the last round of my fantasy drafts last season was like:

The good news; this kid really wants to play! The bad news; he can’t really shoot the ball too well.

The good news; “Whoa! He scored 55 frickin’ points!” The bad news; he never came close to repeating that feat, but was so impressive it was difficult to sell him while his value was high.

The good news; there were games where he was able to go 21-34 from the field, yay! The bad news; there were games where he also went 7-22 once and 5-16 twice. Yes, the bad shooting days came more often than the good ones. – Now that was a hell of a lot of ninja stars thrown just to make a few kills.

Okay so fellow rookie guards Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry ended up becoming the better and more consistent fantasy producers. I do feel, however, that Jennings dealt with a case of “too much pressure, too soon.”  In his defense, he was the only one (between the three of them) to lead, or co-lead, his team into the playoffs. That extra exposure can’t be anything but good for his rapid development and further adjustment to NBA play.

He’s got one hell of a competitive spirit and is committed to, or at least is motivated to,average a double-double this season. Thanks to the Bucks’ management surrounding him with players capable of relieving him of a lot of the scoring pressure, his moxy and bravado may not be too off the mark this season. It would be just great to see his line improve to a  Jason-Kidd-lite, with him focusing more on those counting stats, taking far less shots, and thus killing your team’s field goal percentages less.

Prognosis: It’s still upside as far as Jennings is concerned. If you are playing with the rotisserie format and aren’t too confident about his FG%, then feel free to stay away from picking him this season and just feel free to revisit him come his third-year bump. As far as head to head is concerned, Bran-Jen should be a decent secondary PG (if you drafted an elite one in the early rounds), but would be gravy as a third stringer on your squad, adding PG-numbers from the UTIL slot. He can nail threes and isn’t shy when it comes to steals. Those peripheral numbers, when accompanied by an improved assist-turnover ratio, make Jennings a promising “he’s gonna get better this season” pick.

An improved line for him would be something like: 12-14 PPG; 3.8 RPG; 7.8 APG; 1.4-1.5 SPG; 1.8 3PPG; with FG% finally hitting somewhere in the low 40s.

Andrew Bogut

I will be the first to admit it, I was too harsh on Andrew Bogut coming into last season. I called him out as a “high risk pick,” and cautioned would-be drafters to worry more about his negatives and less focused on his “comeback upside.” Frankly, I’m glad to have been proven wrong. The only thing I had to complain about Andrew was the 69 games he was able to play in last season. Those were, however, some of his best in the NBA. He improved on his scoring to finish the season averaging just under 16 points per game while contributing at least 10 rebounds for the Bucks, but the true highlight in Bogut’s improved fantasy value lies in the way he was able to improve his defense. He was second in the league in blocks averaged at 2.5 BPG. Add that to the already mentioned numbers, to the fact that he drastically reduced the number of turnovers he committed to 1.9 a night (0.5 less than in 2008), then you can see how difficult it is not to consider him as one of the emerging star centers in the league today. If he can stay healthy(er), it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make an appearance at the All-star game in L.A. this season.  That was the good.

The bad is that he ended the season with a nasty injury to his elbow. Ouch! Still makes me cringe.

The good news is that his surgery went well; his rehab is on schedule; and he’s expected to be ready for the Bucks’ training camp.

This season, “good quality” centers aren’t in abundance, and given Andrew’s improvement last year, I would consider picking him a spot or two earlier than most. If you can get over his 62.9 FT% last season, probably the last remaining flaw in his fantasy production, then he should be a good, prototypical, yet not-100%-solid big man for your fantasy team.

John Salmons

Forget the crappy John Salmons who looked lost in Coach Vinny del Negro’s mess of an offense last season. Move the “Bulls Salmons” to the back of your subconscious (along with your other unspeakable childhood traumas). It’s a thing of the past. He did a 180-degree fantasy turn and completely reinvented himself when he moved to Milwaukee. We saw shades of the “Sacramento Salmons” we all were hoping he would be in Chicago.

CHICAGO (51 Games) – 33:12 MPG; 12.7 PPG; 3.4 RPG; 2.5 APG; 1.4 3PPG; 42 FG%; 78.9 FT%; 1.3 SPG; 0.4 BPG; 1.4 TO.

MILWAUKEE (30 Games) - 37:36 MPG; 19.9 PPG; 3.2 RPG; 3.3 APG; 1.5 3PPG; 46.7 FG%; 86.7 FT%; 1.1 SPG; 0.1 BPG; 1.8 TO.

Corey Maggette, who once known as a go-to scorer back in his Clippers days, will likely eat into some of Salmons’ production. Expect a median between his Chicago and Milwaukee averages from John, leaning more towards the Milwaukee improvement and less from the Chicago nightmare.

New Guys: Drew Gooden and Corey Maggette

Perhaps you would think that $32 million over five years is overpaying a guy who’s played in five teams over the last three years. However, when you look at the talent drop in available big-man free agents this Summer after David Lee, you will notice that you would probably end up scraping the bottom of the barrel with an O’Neal. Drew, whose contract is a flee market bargain compared to Lee’s, is still more fantasy desirable compared to the Celtics’ injury-prone, two-headed Jolly Green Giant.

If Gooden can come close to his Clipper average of 14-9 and 92.1 FT% (92.1%!!!), he’ll surely provide some fantastic late-round draft value for your team. He fits in the frontcourt perfectly alongside Bogut. He’s lazy as far as shot blocking is concerned, but it’s cool, because Bogut’s clearly got that department covered. Drew can now perform and produce in a role he’s best suited for – inside scoring and rebounding help.

Corey Maggette will be Corey Maggette. Even though he’s now removed from the (in)famous Nellie Offense, Corey is still capable of chipping in 20+ points on any given night. He’s still able to boost your team’s FT% enough to squeak away a win in that category on any given week. Unfortunately, he’s still prone to tweaking an ankle (or something) and end up missing a week, on any given night. Also be wary of his more than two (2.4) turnovers per game. Similar to Gooden, Maggette will likely reach you in the later rounds. The good thing about him is that you know what to expect. He will be consistently “OK” during those games he manages to play in. On a positive note, Ersan Ilyasova, will be there to provide him some relief and on hot-streak nights will be able to steal some minutes from Corey every now and again.

The Other Guys

Ersan Ilyasova should be a main stay on your watch lists, pending potential missed games by Maggette. He’s proven to streaky and should see extended minutes when he’s on fire. He’ll be representing Turkey at the World Basketball Championships, so stay tuned to news regarding fatigue and/or injuries he may sustain.

Luke Ridnour, Jennings’ primary playing time relief last season, signed with the Timberwolves. Keyon Dooling will see some PT, especially on nights when Brandon gets off to a slow start, but he won’t have much fantasy viability in 12-man leagues though. The better Jennings gets, the less fantasy relevant Dooling becomes.

Carlos Delfino did well last season. Unfortunately, the Bucks’ addition of Maggette and re-signing of Salmons puts a damper on his fantasy outlook for 2010. Both he and Chris Douglas-Roberts will have to fight for playing time. CDR is currently at the bottom of the totem pole and should eventually be joined there by Michael Redd who is reportedly expected to be eased back into action sometime in February.

Keep your eyes on rookie Larry Sanders. He, at 6′11″, will be the team’s paint defender, off the bench. He averaged 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in his last season in college as a junior.

For your 12-man league draft guidance:

Andrew Bogut – 3rd/4th round

John Salmons – 5th/6th round

Brandon Jennings - 7th/8th round

Corey Maggette – 7th/8th round

Drew Gooden – 9th round

Carlos Delfino – late to last round flier

Bold, early prediction: The Bucks make it to the Playoffs once again, but get edged out in the first round.

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