The Pinnacle of Mediocrity is housed in the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thirteen years ago the Bucks made the Eastern Conference Finals with Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell, helmed by George Karl as coach. The Bucks seemed to be primed for a long run in the East.
They missed the playoffs the next year and five more times over those next twelve years. The five times they made the playoffs? They were quickly eliminated in the first round.
Now the Bucks are trying to get a new arena built and seem satisfied for going after a rebuild and not competing for the 8th seed and a quick sweep out of the playoffs. They've realized that they need to go back to trying to win championships and not just settle for mediocrity. It's been 33 years since the Bucks hoisted a championship and this is going to be year one of a rebuild.
Can GM John Hammond actually string enough moves together to make it work?
Head Coach: The Bucks signed Larry Drew away from the Atlanta Hawks. Drew took the Hawks to the playoffs both years he was in Atlanta. In 2011 he was two games short of taking the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Now he inherits a Bucks roster that has been rebuilt with castoffs and very young players. Finding a way to get them to come together will be key, as there is going to be a lot of internal competition to get minutes.
Last Season's Record: 38-44
Player Losses: Brandon Jennings, J.J. Redick and Luke Richard Mbah a Moute were all traded away. Monta Ellis, Samuel Dalembert, Gustavo Ayon, Marquis Daniels, Drew Gooden, Mike Dunleavy and Joel Pryzbilla were all let go in free agency.
Player Additions: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nate Wolters were the Bucks draft picks in June. They traded for Brandon Knight, Caron Butler and Luke Ridnour. O.J. Mayo, Carlos Delfino, Gary Neal, Zaza Pachulia, Khris Middleton and Miroslav Raduljic were all signed during free agency.
Best Player: Ersan Ilyasova is almost everything you want in a stretch 4. He's shot over 44% from three the last two years, developed an inside/mid range game last season and is an excellent rebounder. He's a terrible defender, especially in the one-on-one situations and it gets even worse if he's guarding someone down in the post.
One of his best attributes is his ball security. He rarely ever turns the ball over.
Worst Player: This could be a tough one, but I'll go with Ekpe Udoh who has never developed into the player that most people thought he would be coming out of Baylor.
Player due to breakthrough: John Henson is the obvious choice here, but I'm going to mix things up a bit because people are expecting Henson to have a great year and possibly beat out Ilyasova for the starting power forward spot. So I have to with second year player, Khris Middleton.
A lot people see him as a fringe player in the league, but I see him as one of those 3-and-D type guys. He did struggle with his outside shot last year, but I expect him to much more efficient offensively from the perimeter this year. His defensive abilities are far ahead of his offense, but he's potentially one of those lockdown defenders in the Bruce Bowen/Shane Battier mold. He's got the size and athletic ability to be that type, but he needs to knock down some corner threes.
The Starters: Knight and Mayo are the starting backcourt; Bulter and Ilyasova will be at forward, with potential Defensive Player of the Year, Larry Sanders, manning the middle.
The Bench: Luke Ridnour, Gary Neal and Carlos Delfino will see a majority of the back up guard minutes. John Henson will get a lot of time at both forward and center, with Pachulia contributing I at center.
Random Seattle Connection: Luke Ridnour is from Blaine and is a former Sonic. Bob Bender used to coach the UW men's basketball team.
Best Case Scenario for the Season: To not make the playoffs and get the highest draft pick possible with both Henson and Sanders getting better. That's it, that's their best case scenario. They need to get high into the lottery and hope to get an actual franchise point guard. There are a few in this coming draft.
Worst Case Scenario for the Season: Drew pulls this team together, they take advantage of all the tanking teams in the East and sneak into the 7th seed where they get swept by the Pacers.
Most Likely Scenario for the Season: With the lack of a deep bench and a guy who can carry the scoring load consistently every night, this is going to be a bit of a mess offensively in Milwaukee. Larry Sanders leads the team in rebounds and blocks, gets lots of mention for DPoY.