Milwaukee Bucks 2014-15 Season Preview: Roster Breakdown, Win-Loss Prediction

After putting together a franchise-worst record in 2013-14, it’s cliche to say that things can only get better for the Milwaukee Bucks when 2014-15 tips off.

But, despite the 15-67 record the team turned in a season ago, that’s exactly the mentality needed to turn things around. And with an abundance of young talent, it’s not unreasonable to think brighter days are right around the corner.

It didn’t take long for the direction of the franchise to drastically change after the nightmare season, either.

New ownership, new coaching and some new roster additions were all part of a flurry of offseason moves that gave the Bucks a new, exciting look.

And while this team’s true potential is several years off, 2014-15 is the beginning of what is hopefully a path back to success for Milwaukee.

What, then, is in store for fans in the immediate future?


Biggest Question Mark

By far the biggest question mark for the Bucks this season is Larry Sanders.

The big man had a tremendous 2012-13 season, averaging 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks en route to becoming one of the league’s most intimidating interior defenders.

However, 2013-14 was a major letdown.

Sanders appeared in just 23 games due to injuring his thumb in a night club incident and subsequently fracturing his orbital bone.

It was a disappointment, to say the least.

And while his absence did allow John Henson to emerge as a legitimate interior defender—he averaged 1.7 blocks—Sanders’ presence on a consistent basis would have given the Bucks a very good interior defense.

Instead, Henson was the team’s only real paint presence on both ends of the floor.

In order for the Bucks to move forward successfully, Sanders not only needs to prove he can remain healthy, but he needs to deal with his emotional outbursts and off-court issues. Truthfully, it’s those things preventing him from becoming one of the league’s premier big men.

If a younger, more understanding coach like Jason Kidd can get through to Sanders, perhaps he can turn things around in 2014-15 and return to being a dominant interior presence on defense.


Best Five

Last season, Larry Drew toyed with an astonishing 27 different starting lineup combinations.

And while it’s important to try different things when you’re dealing with a team full of raw, young talent, it’s also vital to establish some iota of consistency.

The roster hasn’t changed significantly, but the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo and drafting of Jabari Parker will certainly mean less minutes for other players.

Discussion of the Greek Freak manning the point-guard role are certainly intriguing, but him playing long-term minutes at the 1 probably isn’t going to happen on a consistent basis.

Ultimately, Milwaukee’s best lineup will look like the one below:

PG: Brandon Knight

SGO.J. Mayo

SF: Jabari Parker

PF: John Henson

C: Larry Sanders

That’s right, Antetokounmpo is best suited coming off the bench as the team’s sixth man.


At this point, the youngster is still incredibly raw on the offensive end and is too inconsistent to provide the team with a consistent scoring threat. Not to mention, the spark he can bring off the bench with his energy and passion will be beneficial to the second unit.

The five aforementioned players provide the team with a good balance of offense and defense.

You won’t find Knight and Mayo winning any Defensive Player of the Year awards, but both put forth the effort to defend and aren’t terrible.

And while Parker’s defensive struggles aren’t a secret, he can prevent himself from becoming a liability with a focus on team defense and rotating properly.

With Sanders and Henson starting, Milwaukee finds itself possessing one of the most intimidating shot-blocking duos in the NBA, and that alone can help alleviate some of the pressure on the team’s perimeter defense.

Offensively, Knight led the team in scoring a season ago, and Mayo has the capability of going off on any given night. 

Parker’s prowess for scoring was well documented during his lone season at Duke, and Henson has continued to develop his low-post game, increasing his scoring average to 11.1 points in 2013-14.

Sanders himself is raw but, with continued work, can become a serviceable option in the interior.

Overall, these are the most well-balanced five players the Bucks can put on the floor at the same time—at least for now.


A Youthful Appearance

According to, the Bucks have an average roster age of 24.4, making them the third-youngest team in the league.

Leading that youth movement are Parker and Antetokounmpo.

Both players bring vastly different skill sets to the table, yet they are equally exciting and should be productive for the franchise well into the future.

Parker’s readiness on the offensive end gives the Bucks a go-to scorer who is aggressive and who can usually get the shot that he wants.

Magic Giannison—that nickname will never get old, even if he doesn’t play point—is a versatile, athletic freak who has the potential to turn into a special, two-way player if and when he rounds out his offensive arsenal.

With those two names garnering the most attention, it’s easy to forget that Knight is just 22 years old himself and continues to develop at point guard.

Coming off his best season, he’ll have the opportunity to become more of a distributor now that the team has more offensive weapons. Whether he’ll recognize and embrace that opportunity is yet to be seen, but he can make just as big of an impact this season as he did last, just in a different way.

As a whole, this team is young and hungry. It might take some time, but if and when these guys reach their potential, the franchise will be in a good place.


Team Award Predictions

Most Valuable PlayerJabari Parker

Parker is a rookie and will certainly make his number of mistakes, but when the season comes to an end, the youngster is going to wind up being the team’s biggest asset. He’ll likely be given the green light on offense, and that alone should be enough to make his impact felt in a big way. But what he does this year will only be a glimpse of what he can do for the franchise from a long-term standpoint.


Defensive Player of the YearLarry Sanders

Sanders will certainly have his doubters in 2014-15 and rightfully so. But regardless of how poorly he sometimes manages it, there’s no questioning his passion for the game and desire to win. Everyone makes mistakes, and last season was one massive blunder. The chance to continue his downward spiral obviously exists, but it would be surprising for him not to have received a major wake-up call after last year.


Biggest Surprise of the YearO.J. Mayo

Writing Mayo off after arguably his worst season as a professional is the easy thing to do. However, from all indications, he has taken the criticisms in stride and is dedicated to improving. According to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mayo has shed 15 to 20 pounds during the offseason, and the veteran finished the preseason by averaging 16.7 points over the final four games.


Mr. ExcitementGiannis Antetokounmpo

With the scoring ability of Parker, the fancy passes from Kendall Marshall and shot-blocking ability of Sanders, the Bucks have a number of players who provide an ample amount of exciting plays. However, it’s Antetokounmpo who will once again wow fans on both ends of the floor. Whether it’s making a defensive play, sprinting back up the court and throwing down a dunk or going the length of the floor in two dribbles, he’ll be sure to please fans once again in 2014-15.


Final Predictions

When compared to the 15-67 record they posted a season ago, this year will be a major improvement for the Bucks when the curtain closes on 2014-15.

No, they won’t make the playoffs, but you had better believe this team will be competitive.

With the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic both in similar—or even worse—situations than them, the Bucks will dig themselves out of the Eastern Conference cellar and will be looking at a 13th-place finish. 

If everything were to go really well, they might be able to move up a few spots, but that shouldn’t be expected.

In terms of number of games won, look for Milwaukee to be around 23 to 25 wins when it’s all said and done.

If assessing the team fairly and understanding that young players don’t become experienced overnight, those numbers are both fair and realistic.

But what the numbers in the win and loss columns say this year won’t speak to the direction the franchise is headed. It’s all about the eye test. If players continue to show signs of developing and guys like Sanders can get back on track, the future in Milwaukee isn’t as dim as it was prior to the offseason.

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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Milwaukee Bucks 10/22/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Minnesota Timberwolves looked to find some consistency on Wednesday night when they faced the Milwaukee Bucks in a preseason clash.

The new-look Timberwolves had struggled to build momentum in the preseason, and they faced a tough test from a Bucks squad eager to prove they’d put last season’s dismal campaign behind them. 

Watch the video for full highlights. 

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Mayo scores 24 points, Bucks top Knicks 120-107 (Yahoo Sports)

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 20: O.J. Mayo #00 of the Milwaukee Bucks takes a shot against the New York Knicks on October 20, 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Reserve guard O.J. Mayo scored a team-high 24 points, and Giannis Antentokounmpo added 14 as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the New York Knicks 120-107 in a preseason game on Monday night.

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Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks 10/20/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The New York Knicks looked to score a preseason victory Monday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Knicks looked to continue putting last season’s dismal effort behind them and faced a tough test from a rebuilding Bucks squad.

Watch the video for full highlights. 

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Milwaukee Bucks: Point guard depth changes player rotation

A good backup point guard is under-valued in the NBA. When the most reliable starters need a rest, a good point guard can take control of a game. They can keep or change the game tempo and even help settle down a rattled team. Good bench production is the kind of thing that helps win championships.
While Brandon Knight is the obvious starting point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, it will be interesting to see how head coach Jason Kidd distributes playing time to the rest of the backcourt.
Second-year player Nate Wolters will hope to build upon a solid rookie year. Wolters was put into the starting lineup at the beginning of the year last season due to a Brandon Knight injury. He played well as a rookie, and should greatly benefit from a full season in the NBA. Wolters didn’t do anything extremely impressive his rookie year, but he proved he can be a reliable backup point guard with the talent to grow into a consistent starter later in his career. Wolters can score, pass well and is even a decent rebounder. W

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Jabari Parker Puts Exclamation Point on Bucks’ Preseason Win with Spin and Dunk

Seeing plays like this from Jabari Parker should have Milwaukee Bucks fans very excited about the future.

Sure, it happened during the preseason. But it shows just what the rookie is capable of.

With his team clinging to a 97-96 lead in the final minute of Friday’s preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Parker took control. He received a pass, spun in the lane and threw down what turned out to be a game-sealing dunk.

Oh, and who is the defender he dunked over? That’s Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft—no slouch himself.

Here is another angle of the dunk from behind the backboard:

Milwaukee held on to win, 105-98. Parker finished the game with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

[Milwaukee Bucks, Vine; h/t Dime Magazine]

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Parker helps Bucks top Timberwolves, 105-98 (Yahoo Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 17: Jabari Parker #12 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots against Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 17, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Rookie Jabari Parker had 21 points and 11 rebounds, O.J. Mayo scored 19 points and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-98 on Friday night.

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Bucks say center Larry Sanders has minor surgery (Yahoo Sports)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders will miss the rest of the preseason after minor surgery.

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Report: NBA owners could split $1.1B if Bucks move to Seattle

The Milwaukee Bucks are under new ownership after Herb Kohl sold the team. The new owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry bought the team for $550 million, but there were guidelines that came with the purchase. One of the guidelines is that NBA could buy the team back from Edens and Lasry if construction of a new arena was not ready by 2017. After the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, the NBA knows that the Bucks are worth far more than what the new owners paid for. Months have passed and the Bucks still don’t have a site for the new arena. Well according to Bill Simmons via Business Insider, NBA owners could split $1 billion if the Milwaukee Bucks move to Seattle.
If the Bucks can’t get a new stadium built before the deadline, the NBA could buy the team for $575 million and then turn around and sell the team to a group in Seattle for an estimated $1.6 billion. That would be a cool $1.025 billion profit for the league or about $35.3 million for each of the other 29 owners.
Simmons, fr…

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Milwaukee Bucks season preview: Player projections

In the third and final part of the Milwaukee Bucks season preview, we will be looking at the potential starting five and their expectations for the upcoming season. For part one, looking at the Bucks roster for the upcoming season, click here. For part two, looking at the team’s projections for this year, click here.
Throughout the first three games of the preseason, coach Kidd has not started the same five players twice. He seems to be giving players a chance to show what they can bring to the team and how well they play with other likely starters. The Bucks have a lot of talent which hints that the starting five to begin the season most likely won’t be the same starting five in the middle of the season or even the end of the season.
Point Guard
The starting point guard of the Milwaukee Bucks will be Brandon Knight. Knight is the obvious choice for the role and has played well in each preseason game. Knight is a great scorer, but he only averaged 4.9 assists for Milwaukee last season. With Jason Kidd coa

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