As players around the league begin to report to their respective teams to start training for the 2012-13 NBA season, many teams should feel as if they have assembled the team that would give them the best shot at success this year. This year, the Milwaukee Bucks were set on solidifying its low post presence. With that said, have the Bucks put together a solid playoff team or will it be another failed chemistry experiment?
When taking a look at the roster, there are a few things to notice. After years of lacking that inside presence outside of Andrew Bogut, the Bucks have loaded up big time at the power forward and center position. Samuel Dalembert, Drew Gooden, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Joel Przybilla, Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh will all have to share time in the Bucks’ frontcourt at the four or five. Not to mention Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who I’m considering a full-time three for this column.
With all of these players playing between two positions, one of two outcomes seem most likely – a really good one or a really bad one. That’s it.
Really Good Outcome(s):
Rookie John Henson will not have to deal with immense pressure if he struggles. With so many players playing the same position, Henson won’t have to deal with the burden of being heavily relied on at the four. This will allow him to develop at his own pace and become the player he is expected to be without the added pressure of having to be “the guy” right out of the gate. He also will have a slew of veterans to lean on and steer him in the right direction.
In a perfect world, Ilyasova will replicate last season – lead the league in 3-points percentage, save a game with an offensive tip-in and occasionally rebound like he’s a disciple of Dennis Rodman.
Dalembert will pick up the slack defensively where the Bucks lacked so badly last season. He’ll be the vocal leader watching everyone’s back and directing traffic. Sanders will thrive in a limited role, able to use his energy, speed and general athleticism that he’s some how learned to control. Udoh could even take a step forward offensively and become a passable offensive player who’s also always in the right place on defense.
Przybilla will offer his guidance and wisdom to make all of these fantasies reality and Gooden will finally stop driving everyone crazy with plays that leave fans scratching their heads.
At the very least the Bucks appear prepared for injury. Two seasons ago, Gooden missed significant time with a foot injury and left the Bucks scraping the bottom of the barrel to even resemble a team with an inside presence. This year, that isn’t the case. The Bucks will should be ready.
Really Bad Outcome(s):
Oh, but the bad could be bad.
When taking a look at the overall roster, the Bucks have size now, something they severely lacked in the past. Now they have to figure out what to do with all of that size. Unless they are running five power forwards at once, the Bucks may encounter some problems with distributing minutes. Chemistry is what carried the Bucks when everyone was fearing deer. Usually when the word “minutes” comes up, you know that there is potential for someone to become disgruntled.
While depth is good, you don’t want that to interfere with the development of your young players. Henson showed a lot of promise in July and there is a good chance that he could receive ample minutes this season. There is also potential for him to lose confidence if he isn’t playing, which would be a result from the extensive depth at the position. If Henson becomes upset or discouraged, this will set the Bucks back. He needs to play.
Beyond Henson, Udoh and Sanders are both players in need of minutes to grow. Both are in a potential contract year and haven’t necessarily carved out obvious roles.
Przybilla isn’t being counted on for much, but who knows if he even has “not much” left anymore. Dalembert could catch Bogut’s old injury problems and Ilyasova could once again forget how to shoot 3-pointers, as was the case two seasons ago. And Drew Gooden? He could just keep being Drew Gooden and that would be plenty bad enough for many Bucks fans. But if he’s inaccurate with that long jump shot he loves so much, those fans will really have something to complain about.
The potential humanity of it all!
The Bucks have found themselves a group that will give them depth at positions where they have been thin in recent years. This is a good thing. The group is balanced, with its offensive guys and its defensive guys. However, one of my personal concerns is the development of Henson. I see this “log-jam” potentially robbing him of valuable minutes. He certainly has the talent to become one of the better, if not the best, player out of this group. If that is going to happen, he needs to get those minutes. On the other end, the Bucks have tradable players that they could use to bring in some wing players. If that were to happen, minutes for the promising Tobias Harris could decline. Only time can tell.
What do you think? Will the depth at the power forward and center positions help or will distribution of minutes become an issue? What should the Bucks do? Sound off.
Tony Atkins writes for the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter.