Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 11:59 AM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Tough Central may stop Bucks

Bucks

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Milwaukee Bucks finish in the Central Division and the Eastern Conference? Get 10 different takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
They play in probably the best division in basketball. Replacing T.J. Ford could prove difficult. And they lack experience on the front line; we'll see if Andrew Bogut is ready to establish himself as a premier frontline player.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 10
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Michael Redd will do his thing, and Williams will grab hold of the starting point job and run with it. But the Bucks won't be special until Bogut and Charlie Villanueva become a dangerous frontcourt tandem, which won't happen this season.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
Somebody has to finish last, although no division has more potential for surprise and disappointment than this one. One loss separated the bottom three teams last season.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
The Bucks had an excellent summer -- adding Villanueva, giving the reins to Williams and moving Bogut to center. They should be able to edge the Wiz and Celtics for that last playoff spot.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 8
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
A playoff team a season ago, I expect them to just miss out this season despite stealing Charlie Villanueva from Toronto. The Bucks need serious improvement on D, and Terry Stotts hasn't proven he's the guy to deliver it.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
Who was smoking the crack (GM Larry Harris?) when they traded T.J. Ford? Just asking. Simple math: The two seasons they have T.J. at point, they make the playoffs; the one season they don't, they don't.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
Redd, Williams, Bobby Simmons and Villanueva are good for 75 a night. But they are horrid defensively. Poor perimeter containment and shot blocking mean too many easy baskets and another lottery pick next year.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
They did a nice job in the offseason but injuries to Bogut and Simmons will challenge them early. An improvement on their 24th-ranked defense would help matters.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 10
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
Having to start the season without Bobby Simmons and Andrew Bogut will put the Bucks in a hole, and in the NBA's toughest division it'll be tough to get to .500 by season's end.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 8
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
Finishing last in the brutal Central is unavoidable. Overcoming the early injuries to get back to the playoffs isn't impossible, though, so long as Andrew Bogut and Bobby Simmons are both back by December.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 5 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 9.7 | Standings


Charlie's New Company
Villanueva
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
Charlie Villanueva's got reason to smile -- he's on a team that made the playoffs last season. He must have impressed the Bucks the night he dropped 48 on them last season -- Milwaukee traded for him.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Maurice Williams
Point Guard
6-3 | 183
Bucks might lose a step without T.J. Ford, but not a big one.
Michael Redd
Shooting Guard
6-8 | 218
Terry Stotts told him to drive more and he listened: career-best 571 FTA.
Bobby Simmons
Small Forward
6-9 | 228
Career-best 105 3s couldn't erase disappointing season.
Charlie Villanueva
Power Forward
6-9 | 245
First rook with highs of 48 points and 17 boards since Kareem.
Andrew Bogut
Center
6-11 | 260
Future of franchise … has to wait a few weeks with leg sprain.
Bench: Reborn Charlie Bell hit 42 percent of 3s. But Ruben Patterson and Dan Gadzuric can't even fill Simmons' and Bogut's kicks.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Dan Gadzuric
Player efficiency rating
projection: 14.11
vs. NBA avg.: -0.89
Bucks profiles

Scouting report: Gadzuric is a slender, athletic center who is at his best when he can run the floor and crash the boards. He's a good leaper who likes to play around the basket despite his thin frame, and a high-percentage shotmaker with a soft touch in the paint. He's not a shooter, can't make foul shots and has a limited post game, but his shot selection is excellent and he moves so well without the ball that he still gets his points. His athleticism also makes him a good rebounder and an excellent shot blocker.

Gadzuric struggles at the defensive end because of his lack of strength. He takes fouls trying to lean on post players and he doesn't always get to the right spots, plus his absurdly high foul rate makes it tough to keep him on the court any time the opponent is in the bonus.

2006-07 outlook: The trade of Jamaal Magloire should open up more playing time for Gadzuric in the frontcourt, either backing up Bogut at center or playing alongside him as the team's primary frontcourt reserve. He'll have to cut down on the fouls, but otherwise he's one of the game's most underrated players. Gadzuric has been a top-12 center in terms of PER each of the past two seasons, and there's no reason to expect this season to be any different. He'll get a chance to show it early in the season, as Andrew Bogut's injury will hand him the starting center job for the first month or so.


Redd Menace
Redd
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
Michael Redd is a scoring machine in his prime. His average has improved in each of his six NBA campaigns, hitting 25.4 last season as his Bucks reached the playoffs.


SportsNation Speaks
We asked Milwaukee fans …

How can the Bucks go to the next level?
54.3% Better team defense
12.3% More leadership from Michael Redd
11.6% Better point-guard play
8.6% Tougher demands by Terry Stotts
8.2% Better center play
5.1% Don't worry, they're doing fine

Vote: Bucks in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Bucks

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Bucks' logo on your chest?

Well, I already have "REDD ZONE" right below my belly button, but in order for me to get the team logo, I'm not looking at anything that will happen, at least on the court.

With all the talk of team movement in Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, New Orleans etc., I just want Sen. Herb Kohl to sell the team to someone who will keep the team in Milwaukee.

I want a guarantee that they're staying.

That is all.

Sam Kirchner | 5-Point Bucks



Coach's Corner

TERRY STOTTS COACHING FILE
Experience: 3 years
Record: 92-127
Playoffs: 2-8
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

The Bucks have a few questions Terry Stotts needs to get answered:

Can he get Mo Williams and Steve Blake to share point-guard duties?

Can he find time for Lynn Greer, who destroyed Europe but came to America to prove he can be an NBA player and may be unhappy without quality PT?

Stotts also realizes that post players Villanueva and Bogut are a nasty 'tude away from being perhaps the best young "big" combo in the league. Can he get them to "beast it"?

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
Outside shooting. The Bucks shape up as a deadly outside-shooting team. They were already good last season and now have added the shooting touch of Blake, Villanueva and Greer.

Additionally, the departure of Ford replaces an awful shooter with a very good one in Williams, while Bogut's move to center opens up another spot for a shooter.

For an idea of just how potent this lineup may be, consider that Redd, Simmons, Williams, Blake and Bell all shot 38.2 percent or better on 3-pointers last season, that Greer is likely to do the same based on his European stats and that Villanueva, as he acclimates to the longer 3-point line in his second pro season, may come close to that mark as well.

Add it up and Milwaukee should be among the league's top two or three teams in 3-point percentage.

That's only half the equation, though.

The Bucks also need to find more opportunities to shoot the long ball than they did last season, when their .203 3-point attempts per field-goal attempt barely exceeded the league average.

The Bucks don't have many great passers, so making the plays to set up the 3-point attempts will be the challenging part. Much of the pressure falls onto Bogut, a brilliant passer who needs to score enough to command double-teams on the blocks.

More Hollinger Bucks analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Williams
Williams

Sleeper: Mo Williams should benefit greatly by being the full-time starter with T.J. Ford gone.

Williams may not score more than last season, but he is sure to increase his assist total. He's vastly improved his perimeter game since coming into the league and is known for keeping his turnovers down.

Bust: Ruben Patterson is one of those guys who's better off on your real team than your fantasy team. In fantasy, he can score a little and shoots a good percentage, because he doesn't take too many shots outside of 15 feet.

But he doesn't rebound well and despite being a solid defender, he doesn't rack up the steals or blocks.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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