8. Milwaukee Bucks
Last season, the Bucks finished as the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs by two games. They were one of the best defensive teams in basketball, but they were also one of the worst offensive teams in the league. It doesn’t matter how good you are on defense if you aren’t able to generate points on the offensive end. During the offseason they made some moves in hopes of ironing out the offense. They traded Corey Maggette for Stephen Jackson, then signed Beno Udrih and Mike Dunleavy, and drafted forward Tobias Harris.
The Bucks have some talented players but they are going to have to gel and become more efficient in order for them to make the playoffs. Their two leaders, Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings, have to play better and more together. Bogut isn’t really a go-to-guy on the offensive end but for this team he has to be that. While scoring isn’t his forte he is better than his stats he produced last season, which I attribute in large part to his surgically repaired elbow. Jennings, on the other hand, has a lot of offensive skill, he just needs to become a more efficient shooter and to finish better at the rim.
While the rest of the roster lacks eye-popping names, they do have a lot of quality players that will be able to contribute off the bench, much like the Denver Nuggets. Stephen Jackson is a very solid player and can provide some offense on the wing that the Bucks really didn’t have last season.
The starting five looks to be Jennings-Jackson-Delfino- Gooden-Bogut, and while that doesn’t look too threatening, their depth is what sets them apart from other fringe playoff teams in the East. They are able to bring in Shaun Livingston and Udrih in the backcourt, Dunleavy and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on the wing, and Harris, Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova up front.
The defense will still be there the question is if they are able to get enough buckets. On paper they look to be improved on the offensive end but it remains to be seen. If they maintain their top-five defense and improve even slightly on offense they should be able to sneak in the playoffs as the 8th seed.