2. SI.com’s Marty Burns examines the key question for each team in the East and, not surprisingly, focuses on Yi Jianlian for the Bucks.
“Key camp question: Was Yi worth all the bother?After waiting months for him to finally agree to play in Milwaukee, the Bucks at last get a look at their 6-11 Chinese prospect. It will be interesting to see how much the 19-year-old phenom can step in and contribute to a Milwaukee squad that is healthy again and poised to bounce back in the East.”Interesting indeed. With Greg Oden out for the season, expect a good deal of preseason Yi coverage nationally, likely trailing only Kevin Durant among rookies in that department. The Bucks are healthy now, but that doesn't exactly put them in a minority. Aside from the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trailblazers, most teams are in good health and have reason for optimism. Then again, not many teams were hit as hard by injuries last season as the Bucks.
3. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein delivered his first power rankings of the year and ranked the Bucks 17th, with more comments on Yi.
“The Bucks were busier than most teams over the summer and spent a lot more than they usually do. So Sen. Kohl will inevitably demand big things from the team GM Larry Harris has assembled, starting with the Big Yi.”Yi is the most unknown and thus intriguing player to track heading into camp. There isn’t much debate about that. However, he isn’t likely to be even one of the biggest five things in Milwaukee, if we’re talking about production this season. NBA rookies don’t typically assume a prominent role immediately, especially teenage ones. Of course, Yi is anything but a typical rookie, and perhaps not a teenager either. Still, even though we don’t know much of anything about Yi and we know all about Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and company, expect Stein to be talking more about big things from the latter rather than the former in a few months.
As for the ranking, 17th is a pretty fair, happy medium preseason ranking for a team that could realistically end the year in the same spot or eight spots higher or lower. The conference appears very competitive and crowded, as evidenced by eight of Stein’s eleven teams from 10-20 hailing from the East.
4. Just Another Bucks Fan links to a story written by Gery Woelfel in which assistant coach Jarinn Akana talks about Yi. The article is a very good read, with Akana providing some particularly informative commentary on Yi's cultural transition as it relates to basketball.
5. The Bratwurst writes very well-done individual player breakdowns, like this one:
“Bobby Simmons: The most misunderstood of all Bucks players to put on a jersey in recent years. At the start of the 2005-2006 campaign, he was attacking the basket, the team was winning close games, he was playing good defense, and he looked worth every penny. Then he got some weird foot/ankle/joint injury, nagged him, he quit attacking the basket, and the Bucks quit winning close games. That problem led him to having surgery and missing all of last year. If he were to count as an off-season pickup, he’s easily the best one we’ve got and is going to have the biggest impact of any player that didn’t wear a jersey last year. I fully expect him to earn his keep this year, unlike everyone else in Milwaukee.”I’ve been considering Simmons one of the team’s new players when comparing to last season, and why not, considering he didn't play last year any more with the Bucks than Yi or Mason did. But whereas Yi and Mason have stolen most of the spotlight, Simmons might be the biggest wild-card for Bucks success of the new bunch.
6. Mke Bucks Diary writes a colorful article critiquing the direction of the Bucks.
“What exactly is Harris' plan to get the Bucks to the NBA Finals?Ty essentially takes the championship-or-nothing mentality, which is an admirable stance for the hardcore fan.
Let's say you divided the NBA talent pool as Bob McGinn does the NFL talent pool: into Blue chips (All-stars or borderline All-Stars), Purple chips (productive starters or backups who will probably never make an All-Star team but whom you can live with), Red chips (inadequate players, players with marginal skills whom you would replace as soon as the opportunity presents), and Yellow chips (young players with potential on whom the jury is still out).
In my opinion, you cannot win an NBA title without at least 2 Blues and a bunch of high Purples. Ideally you would have 3 Blues (as the Bucks did early this decade) and then a bunch of purples. Then you fill out the rest of your roster with Yellows. There is no room for Reds. Reds get you nowhere. As such, your goal should always be to discard all but the most necessary few Reds.”
However, what should be considered is the possibility of upward mobility of certain players on the Bucks within his color-based player rating system. He correctly cites the limits of Charlie Bell, Desmond Mason, and others. But they are guys that could potentially play on a high-playoff team, and it's not like they are starting even now. Though recently signed Samaki Walker did start on a champion, throwing into question the whole thought.
More importantly though, Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, and Mo Williams could eventually combine with another star or two to make a pretty special team. We know what Redd is capable of, but Bogut, Williams, and even Villanueva haven't yet piqued. It's far from a sure thing that they'll eventually form the nucleus of a championship-level club, but it's possible. Blowing up this team seems a bit premature.
The Atlanta Hawks, who always seem to stay young and full of promising players, might also serve as a cautionary tale for following the better off terrible-than-okay strategy.