This is going to be a long year, folks. I hate to be so negative and I often avoid being so blunt, but this Bucks team is in trouble.
Being in trouble in October is O.K. The 2010 Bucks looked like amateurs in October, 2009. Kevin Love and the Timberwolves bullied them around in a preseason game and I remember wondering if the departures of Richard Jefferson, Charlie V and Ramon Sessions were going to hurt more than I thought. After an hot start to the regular season and a flabby winter, the Bucks caught fire late and ended up being one Bogut rim-nastics performance from taking their best shot at Orlando in the conference semi-finals.
October of 2009 felt better than October of 2014. Four years ago Brandon Jennings looked like a rookie stud and Bogut looked like he finally learned how to play defense. Jennings was defending better than any point guard in his loaded class (which included Flynn, Curry, Lawson and Holiday), he had nice court vision and he could score when buckets were needed. Bogut had refined his reactions and judgment to the point that he always seemed to make the right decision on whether to contest a shot or take a charge. We knew the team would struggle to score at times, but a .500+ season built on 93-86 victories seemed possible.
There is far less optimism for 2014. The Bucks best starting lineup at the moment may be Luke, Gary Neal, Giannis, Ers & Larry. I like all of those players, but that smells like something other than victory. And what about the egos? I have my doubts that Caron, Brandon and Mayo would be happy coming off the bench.
Preseason predictions seem to have the Bucks pegged at somewhere between the fifteenth and twenty-fourth best team in the NBA. The Sixers, Suns, Magic, Celts, Jazz and Sacto are considered worse by just about every blogger and talking head, but I'm not so sure. All of those teams have more offensive talent than the Bucks (at least once Rondo gets back). The Bucks have fine role players and some solid defenders, but if things go to pot this could get ugly.
I am excited for the start of the season in a week, and I'll be headed to Milwaukee for the home opener. It's a battle of USC titans, as OJ Mayo goes toe-to-toe with DeMar DeRozan. My hope is that things start looking up in these last two preseason games, and that Larry Drew plays a rotation that flows. My fear is that things will get ugly on October 30, with only minimal relief until June 26.