NBA / Jul 20, 2010 / 4:00 pm

Fear The Deer: The Bucks Have Had The Most Underrated Offseason

While everyone has anointed the Heat as the Eastern Conference frontrunner (I believe they are), and the Magic, Celtics and Bulls as the best bet to challenge them, one team has slowly solidified its status as a contender: the Milwaukee Bucks. They didn’t have max money to shell out on free agents, but that hasn’t stopped them from having a brilliant offseason – even if it has gone largely unnoticed.

First, the Bucks added Corey Maggette in a trade for Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell. While Maggette probably is overpaid at $10 million per year, he filled the Bucks’ most glaring need: a shot creator. Last year, the Bucks really only had John Salmons who could create his own shot on the wing, and Maggette, despite his flaws, can flat-out score. Also, Gadzuric and Bell were nothing more than spare parts in Milwaukee that really had no future there.

After getting Maggette, John Hammond went into the Draft and picked up three very solid players. At No. 15, he got Larry Sanders who was very impressive in Summer League and will fit in well with Scott Skiles‘ system as a rebounding and defensive specialist. Sanders also is incredibly athletic and can get up and down the floor with this young Bucks squad. The Bucks also drafted Darrington Hobson, a lockdown perimeter defender, and Tiny Gallon who has the muscle to play inside, and the jump shot to step outside.

Next up for Hammond was stealing Chris Douglas-Roberts from the Nets. He traded a future second-rounder for CDR, a guy who provides instant offense off the bench and an incredible desire to win that Skiles surely admires. After the CDR and Maggette pickups, nobody thought the Bucks would re-sign their season savior from last year, John Salmons. Yet, Hammond re-signed Salmons to a five-year deal worth $39 million. In a market where Darko Milicic makes $5 million annually, and Rudy Gay signed for five years at $82 million, this contract is very reasonable for a potential 20 point per game scorer.

With Salmons back, and Douglas-Roberts and Maggette now on board, the Bucks filled their most glaring need quite well. That’s when Hammond went to work shoring up his front court. He signed Drew Gooden for five years at $32 million, and while some might say that’s a steep contract for Gooden, I wouldn’t say so. Gooden can be a starting quality power forward in this league, and Sanders won’t be ready to start for probably two seasons. When Andrew Bogut went down last year the Bucks lacked front-court depth to compensate in his absence, and Gooden helps solve that. He can be a solid role player for them, your stereotypical system guy.

The last set of moves (I think) Hammond has made occurred yesterday. He brought in Keyon Dooling for two years at just over $4 million, and traded for Jon Brockman. Dooling is an underrated player who will provide a veteran presence for this team, solid defense, and good shooting. Last year, the Bucks had Kurt Thomas as their veteran leader; this year I expect it will be Dooling. Brockman adds more depth to the front-court and can be a dirty-work player on the boards.

So while their offseason moves haven’t been overly talked about, the Bucks have done something rare over the past few seasons. Led by Hammond, the team has effectively solidified its most glaring needs: wing scoring and front-court depth without egregiously overpaying anyone. Job well-done. Not to mention that Hammond also has Michael Redd‘s huge expiring contract to work with in trade scenarios to further improve his squad.

Potential Depth Chart:
PG: Brandon Jennings, Keyon Dooling
SG: John Salmons, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Carlos Delfino
SF: Corey Maggette, Luc Mbah a Moute
PF: Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders, Tiny Gallon
C: Andrew Bogut, Jon Brockman

What do you think?

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  • MBE18

    I agree! The Bucks moves have gone under the radar.

  • dcial

    1 thru 10 they’re as talented as any team out there.

  • DZ

    Black horse of next season! East will be tough with Heat, Bulls, Magic, Knicks, Celtics and Hawks but I think they will be really good.

  • PN

    I don’t see it.

  • Heckler

    they’re good as a video game lineup.
    but do you really see this team winning over 45 games?!!?

  • Daniel Marks

    @Heckler

    I do, they’ve vastly improved their 2 biggest weaknesses this off-season. Skiles gets the most out of his guys, and they almost beat the Hawks in the first round last year despite being terribly overmatched without Andrew Bogut down low

  • james p

    yes indeed we can compete.

  • K Dizzle

    Great offseason. That rookie, Sanders, really impressed this summer. Dooling as a backup to Jenning is the cherry on the sundae.
    I got into it on dime a couple weeks back about how the Bucks were deeper and a better team top to bottom than the Heat and they kept fightin me on it.
    Thanks for the article lol
    Top 6 in the East and maybe even catchin the Hawks or Bulls for 4th if those two have an injury or slip up at all

  • Brown

    It all depends on Bogut’s health. If he’s recovered from that nasty injury, they could be fighting for home court in the first round. They’ll be middle-of-the-pack as far as Eastern Conference playoff teams go and I think they’ll beat a few teams they couldn’t beat last year.

  • karizmatic

    The BUcks did well for themselves with what was available especially at the wing position, now if they can pull something nice off with Michael Redd they could be a real contender.

  • http://thesphericalstudies.blogspot.com Professor J

    First it was the bulls. Then it was the raptors. Now it’s the bucks. Cmon dime quit blowing up on everyone! Sure the bucks can win a few games but I see Jennings hitting a sophomore wall, bad porn and salmons fighting over shots and drew gooden being regular old drew gooden. They can probably sneak into the playoffs but nothing more

  • Conoro

    ^ HaHaHaHaHaHa

  • Stunnaboy09

    @Heckler

    They have 3 top class players (Jennings, Salmons, Bogut) at their position. Remember Bogut was All-NBA defensive second team last year. Maggette and Gooden as D.Marks said take care of their 2 biggest needs (getting to the line and size). Sciles is an amazing coach who would have won COTY if not for Scotty Brooks. So Good Starting 5 + Solid Bench + Amazing Coach = <45 wins?

  • Conoro

    * @dcial

  • ERIC

    Good article. the only thing that really made me laugh was keyon dooling as the veteran leader.. give me a break.

  • the cynic

    Dooling is a huge downgrade from Ridnour, and its hard to get excited for a team when the big offseason move is to acquire Bad Porn. The nucleus of this team is solid though

  • stephen

    some serious good quality maneuvering

  • Barn

    I could swear we had a very similar article about the same team last offseason.

  • high release

    The squad is the antithesis of Miami’s, and I like that. Anyone on there can have his day scoring–that wasn’t the case last year. And I see Gooden as equal to Boozer, given his value. The big rookies and Brockman are an upgrade from Gadzuric and Kurt Killer Thomas, cool as he is. A shame to lose Ridnour, I grew to respect him. But Dooling Banjos has a bit of length and experience at the backup role. I’ve got a bad feeling that Delfino could be an odd man out here, but we’ll see.

    The Bucks may not win too many more than last year, but they’ll be a stronger threat in the playoffs.

  • Joe’s Momma

    The Bucks are a very intriguing team no doubt.

    But I have a few reservations about this team still.

    Will Salmons continue to play at that level? He went to the Bulls, and tore it up. Then the following season he couldn’t do it again. Maybe the same situation?

    Gooden at that price? Overpaid

    Maggette? Bad porn don’t play D, so he aint getting no PT from Skiles

    The Rookies, give them props for that. Mighty fine job.

    Brockman, a steal.

    Dooling, good pick up, solid veteran can play both guard spots.

    If Bogut can come back at near full strength, they have a damn good squad. They almost got passed the first round without their big man, but seeing how ATL got worked the next round that might not have been such an accomplishment after all.

    I am surprised they spent all that money, now will it work out? I expect them to let Redd expire instead of adding more salary, but if they are fighting for home court at the middle of the season, they could be major players come trade deadline time.

  • oiger

    heat will still kick their ass. they need height. brockman is undersized. they need another 7 foot guy that can defend.

  • http://richjanitorreviewed.org BV

    Now, they’ve just gotta get rid of the dead weight contract of Michael Redd. I’m looking fwd to see how much better Brandon Jennings has gotten…

  • Yucca Man

    Bucks?

    No.

    They are counting on Bad Porn Maggette to turn the team from second tier to genuine contenders.

    That’s all that needs to be said.

  • me

    and they don’t have any big contract guys other than the expiring one.

    I’m used to them overpaying for underproducers, but even the guys they overpaid weren’t really that much overpaid.

    Bra-vo.

    Too bad they picked the wrong time to not suck.

  • http://facebook.com/togstadlives Jeremiah Togstad

    “Contender” is a strong word. Bucks are not a title contender, but they are probably 5th or 6th seed bound. Hopefully Andrew “Rubberarm” Bogut comes back strong next year. If he does, then Bucks might get to the 2nd round this time.

  • 100k

    Maggette is trash.

  • Chise

    Outside of LA, Miami, Boston and Orlando there’s a big cluster-fuck of 2nd-tier teams. The Bucks are in that cluster, it’s obvious unless you’re hating. Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta aren’t really superior.

  • http://championshipatbest.com Colin

    @Yucca Man

    No, they’re not counting Maggette to turn them into contenders, he’s probably not even going to start. The Bucks are counting on Bogut, Jennings, and possibly the largest collection of above-average players in the NBA to turn them into contenders.

    2004 Pistons, anyone?

  • Daniel Marks

    Don’t think the Bucks can be a title contender but they can at least make some noise in the East. Maggette doesn’t defend but he solves their biggest need, and him and Salmons take a lot of pressure off Jennings to be the primary perimeter scorer. They have a deep team that is very young, they could be very solid for the next 5 years.

  • nick ortiz

    can someone explain this Maggette Badporn nickname to me?

  • era

    Bad Porn= Of course there is action (scoring) but you just dont like what you see

  • nick ortiz

    ohhhhh hahahah thank you.

  • http://fearthedeer.blogspot.com 3000

    Honestly, I’m a little bummed about Gadzuric leaving the 414. You had to respect a dude who’d had is whole career with Bango.

    That said, if the Gnarly Arm/Knee Injury fairy stays away (there’s another team about an hour south, it she’s desperate…) the Bucks could be pretty nasty next year.

    FEAR THE DEER, rep!

    fearthedeer.blogspot.com