The Milwaukee Bucks have a whole new look this season with Larry Drew serving as the new head coach after the firing of Jim Boylan in May. The Bucks have bolstered their roster, adding O.J. Mayo, Carlos Delfino, Gary Neal, and Brandon Knight, among others. This does, however, come with the loss of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. How will this new roster fair among the stronger competition within the Central Division, as well as against the rest of the league?
At first glance, one immediately notices the lack of a threatening big man, especially on the offensive end. You could say Larry Sanders provides a threat, especially signing a four-year, $44 million extension, but realistically he averaged slightly below 10 and 10 last season and is far from dominating on the offensive side of the ball. Sanders is a great defensive threat, averaging a the second most blocks in the NBA at 2.8 per outing. He joins fellow front court returnee John Henson, who greatly impressed in the NBA Summer League, averaging 14.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game, all while shooting 55% from the floor. Ekpe Udoh, another returning big man, provides a defense threat, but his rebounding abilities have been a concern during his time in Milwaukee. Signing Zaza Pachulia, who averaged 6 and 6 last year, does provide some kind of presence, but not the kind that while keep teams from exposing the slower Pachulia. The Bucks are aged on the wing with Caron Butler, Marquis Daniels, and Carlos Delfino; all players that would probably be considered out of their prime where they were above average players in the league. ERsan Ilyasova provides some youth and a threat-point threat to the wing, but has been seen to have some consistency issues. The backcourt will be interesting situation, with the prospective of starting two new faces in O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight. Even Gary Neal, who will fight for a starting spot at the point with Knight, was only signed this offseason. The 18-year old Giannis Antetokounmpo is a wild card, but at 6-9 with his intangibles, the potential is there.
Matching up with the Cleveland Cavaliers will be tough for the Milwaukee Bucks, especially with their lack of threat in the post. The Cavaliers have a very balanced attack of big men, both young and veteran specializing in different aspects of post play on both ends of the ball. Brandon Knight will continue to have problems defending Kyrie Irving, but an experienced scorer like Mayo could cause the Cavaliers backcourt some problems. The wing is an area where the prospective of both Milwaukee and Cleveland is up in the air, and comes down to how effective Milwaukee’s veterans are and how rookie Anthony Bennett performs in his debut season.