NBA Season Wrap Up: Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks, who finished 38-44, got swept by Miami in the first round and are now in the midst of a coaching search, really had no business in the playoffs. Sorry, Bucks fans.
The good news for Milwaukee in 2012-13 was the emergence of Larry Sanders as one of the up and coming defensive big men in the league. Sanders finished second in the NBA in blocks per game, 12th in rebounds per game, and his defensive rating was the sixth highest of any player in the league.
Sanders was a big reason why the Bucks finished with the 12th best Defensive Rating. Ekpe Udoh, Samuel Dalembert, and John Henson also provided length on defense and helped the Bucks finish second in the league in blocked shots behind only Oklahoma City.
Their defense was good but the Bucks played at such a high pace -- third fastest in the Association -- that other teams still managed to score 100.4 points per game against them. Their offensive attack, led by Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, was simple. One of their ball dominant guards needed to create a shot for themselves or for one of their three point specialists like JJ Redick, Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova.
During the regular season, Jennings shot 39% from the floor and Ellis was just a bit better at 41.6%. Ellis put up the fourth most shots of any player in the league, and he really had to for the Bucks to stand a chance.
While Milwaukee is looking to replace their coach, they also need to make some difficult personnel decisions. Brandon Jennings is going to be a restricted free agent and it's time for them to figure out if, in fact, he's their guy moving forward. Unfortunately, it's tough to get free agents to come to Milwaukee, so they might have to stick with Jennings due to a shortage of better options.
Ellis is likely going to enter free agency so they will need to replace his 19.2 ppg. If I were in charge of the Bucks, which at this point is not the case, I would aim to change the team's identity. Let's slow that pace down, take advantage of our length and potential to protect the rim, and become a defensive powerhouse. And then, on the offensive side, they can spend Ellis' salary on a reliable scorer and half court presence like David West. Essentially, they should replicate Indiana's model building around a shot blocker and embracing what your personnel is actually capable of.
A lot of that starts with a coach, so I wouldn't be surprised if this Bucks team is back in playoffs next year, possibly with a record of .500 or above this time, if they can find the right guy to lead them.
Jennings is the Bucks sole restricted free agent and Samuel Dalembert, Marguis Daniels, Mike Dunleavy, Joel Pryzbilla, and J.J. Redick are unrestricted. Monta Ellis has a player option.