The Bucks open their 07/08 season in Orlando tonight at 6 CT. The game is on FSN, but should also be available on sopcast. Tom Enlund writes that the Bucks spent their last day of practice focusing on defense. But Larry Krystkowiak just wants to play:
"I see some improvement (defensively) but you really need some opponents to get a good gauge of it. Sometimes you get pretty good at guarding your own stuff and it's not a true sense. I thought we got exposed in the preseason by different things that we don't do ourselves. So we kind of put those fires out and you try to build on it. But until you get to play against it again, you don't know where the gauge is."
Don't count Dave Berri among those liking the Bucks' chances this year. Based on his Wages of Wins model, he has the Bucks as the worst team in the East:
- Milwaukee Bucks
Okay, every team I have mentioned thus far could make the playoffs. And except for Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit, I would not be surprised if any team misses the playoffs. In other words, the playoffs in the Eastern Conference are hard to predict.
The lone exception is the Milwaukee Bucks. This team added Desmond Mason, who produce - 2.3 wins for the Hornets last year. Then they drafted Yi Jianlian. Even if Jianlian was as productive as an average player, I don’t see this team getting to 30 wins. And given what he did in the pre-season, I am not sure we can expect an average season from Jianlian. The Bucks did get above average productivity last year from Andrew Bogut, Michael Redd, and Maurice Williams. But those were the only above average players on the roster, and none of these players surpassed 0.150 in WP48 (average is 0.100). In sum, this team lacks any really good players but does have several below average performers. Consequently, I see this team trailing the rest of the conference.
This was discussed over on RealGM and it sounds like Berri's assumptions about injuries and improvements in play are the key drivers here. The incomparable Don (aka Epi) puts it far more eloquently than I could in the comments below Berri's post:
I think a team like the Bucks or any other with high time lost through injury of top players, the better projection period would be when they were healthy. For the Bucks, November and December would be the games to figure the respective WinsProduced, as after December it was an Abbot and Costello routine (whose at guard? Correct).
Also the problem of severe injuries is not only the time missed, but the level of performance when a player gets back on court. For instance, the difference between Charlie Villenuava befor his injuries and the return period are enormous. The same might be said with Redd.
I think even within the no improvement assumption, the Bucks, when last season’s injuries are controlled, I think 34 wins is the minimum for the Bucks. But I also think their chances for player improvement is as high as any team’s–particular Villenuava and Bogut (who did this offseason what he failed to do the previous offseason–work on his deficiencies, including weight distribution).
- Head on down to the Bradley Center today between 11:30 and 1 for a free pizza lunch courtesy of Palermo's. Tickets are still available for the home opener on Saturday night, so you can pick those up at the same time.
- The Basketball Jones has some ideas for Yi Jianlian.
Bill Simmons is surprisingly optimistic about the Bucks this year, projecting 41-41 and a sixth seed in the playoffs. He's still hating on Yi though, so we can only hope he's as wrong about Yi as he was about Yao.
The whole "Yi Jianlian needs to get 20 minutes" promise becomes a complete debacle and nearly undermines Milwaukee's season after it becomes clear the Chairman isn't even remotely ready.
- Ty at Bucks Diary says Mo Williams is a point fraud! But Enlund writes that Mo knows this is his time to prove himself.
"I would say for me personally, from an individual standpoint, it was an OK year," Williams said. "I wouldn't say I was happy with the season. It was a miserable season. It was. They made the right moves this summer for me to be excited about coming back. I would say that. I love the city but I love to win more."
- Brett Edwards at Fanhouse likes the Bucks' starting five