Looking at the roster of the Milwaukee Bucks is a little like seeing the pictures of the Comic Book Club in your high school yearbook. You think, “They look familiar, but I’m not exactly sure who they are.”
To say the Bucks lack star power is a gross understatement. From top to bottom, including their coach Larry Drew, the roster is shoulder-shrug inducing when it comes to excitement.
The same could be said about the actual talent on the roster, which anchored them to the league’s worst record of 15-67. The fun didn’t stop there as the Bucks finished 28th in scoring, 24th in rebounding and 25th in opponents points per game. That in turned led to deeper stats that were just as depressing with an offensive rating that ranked 26th, a pace ranking of 24th and defensive rating ranking of 30th.
This season the “B” in their name should have been replaced with a “Y” to truly represent their play and what it was like to watch a vast majority of their games. But perhaps change is coming.
The team’s sale to new owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry was made official on May 15 and they hope to gain the driver’s seat position in the NBA Draft lottery on May 20.
Their best chance at infusing life into this franchise is through the draft and hitting a home run with what they hope is the top pick. They may have some wiggle room if they are unlucky and fall to second or third, but anything outside of that and their chances turn to ominous. Their scouts and administration are going to be under immense pressure to get it right with whoever they select. That same pressure will then turn to the actual player come the season, especially if the Bucks do end up with the first pick.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee isn’t even in the top 15 of destinations free agents consider when searching for a new home to take their talents to. Players often search for deals elsewhere before settling on Milwaukee because maybe the market dried up in their preferred city of choice.
Let’s face it–LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and host of others aren’t going to pick up the phone if they see Milwaukee’s general manager John Hammond calling on July 1. Of the top 20 or so projected free agents the Bucks might have the best shots at Kyle Lowry, Marcin Gortat, Trevor Ariza and Evan Turner. But none of those guys (who probably still wouldn’t be interested) bring excitement, sell tickets and put this team in position to start winning immediately.
It’s sad because the Bucks will have some money with approximately $42 million in committed salary next season. That’s even with O.J. Mayo, Ersan Illyasova and Larry Sanders sucking up 64 percent of the team’s payroll.
A culture change is needed. That change is going to be represented in the lottery with whoever Milwaukee selects to be their feature guy for the next five years and potentially beyond.
Their new owners are committed and are saying the right things as evidenced by this excerpt from an open letter they wrote to the fans.
Our desire to succeed is enormous. We are prepared to do all that we can to field a consistently competitive Bucks team for years to come, beginning with selecting a top pick in next month’s NBA Draft. This is the start of a new era in Bucks history. We look forward to working with all of you to deliver an NBA Championship to Milwaukee.
You wouldn’t expect them to say, “We bought the team for status and don’t intend to do anything with it.” But still it’s nice of them to be transparent in their intentions. Now they will have to back it up with the help of their general manager and future selection in June.