From the Bench with BK
In the midst of the MLB playoffs, the heart of the NFL season and, of course, the return of the NHL, leave it to a fool like myself to be looking forward to the upcoming basketball season. It’s not very logical, I know, but I do so for good reason, that being the resurgence of the Milwaukee Bucks.
For the last three years, I’ve sat idly by while the Bucks made wrong decision after wrong decision, trading away proven players such as Sam Cassell and Milwaukee’s beloved Ray Allen. In the blink of an eye, the Bucks went from a championship contender to a bottom dweller while sending Bucks fans sprinting away from the Bradley Center. But, I’m happy to say that at least on paper, the Bucks are back.
After a disappointing 34-56 record in 2004-05, in which the Bucks earned the first pick of the 2005 NBA draft due to sheer badness, the Bucks have retooled their lineup and appear to have a team capable of making a run at the playoffs.
The Bucks took their first step in the right direction last June when they selected the 7-foot monster from Australia, Andrew Bogut. He’s listed as a center, strangely enough, but for anyone who saw this guy play at Utah, he’s got the total package. He’s got a solid low post game, great range and, what most impresses me, he creates and dishes the ball like a guard. Much like Magic Johnson -ÿonly a couple inches taller – Bogut has eyes in the back of his head.
Not satisfied with relying on the draft, the Bucks went to work in the off season for the first time in a long time acquiring NBA’s Most Improved Player of the 2004-05 season, Bobby Simmons, from the L.A. Clippers. After a mediocre start to his NBA career, Simmons had a breakout season last year for the Clippers, averaging 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.41 steals a game, while shooting .466 from the field and .435 from beyond the arc.
The Bucks also took care of their franchise player Michael Redd in the off season, signing him to a long-term deal while keeping Bucks fans happy. Opposite of Redd, Bucks swingman Desmond Mason put on 15 pounds of muscle in the off season, and it showed in the first game of the pre-season as he ripped down a game-high 15 rebounds. Not bad for a guy who’s only 6’5″.
Probably one of the most exciting things about the Bucks’ upcoming season is the return of point guard T.J. Ford, who’s missed the majority of the last two seasons with a neck injury. Ford showed his talent at Texas in his brief stay there, and if he’s healthy, he could be the underlying key to the Bucks’ success this season.
And, of course, last, but definitely not least, the Bucks’ biggest move of the off season was resigning the immortal Toni Kukoc. He might be one of the purest shooters in the league, he’s got a hell of a goatee and, obviously, the guy just refuses to die.
All in all, it was a great off season for the Bucks. As a fan, I’m more than happy with what they’ve done, and I’m looking forward to cheering on a winning team. All the tools are in place. I’m simply satisfied with the fact the Bucks organization is making a conscious effort to win games. Good call, guys. Although we’ll probably never have Allen back, which saddens me along with many Bucks fans, this team shows a lot of promise. In three weeks, we’ll see just how much. Go Bucks!
Brad Knickerbocker is a senior print journalism major and a columnist for The Spectator.