COACH: Scott Skiles | 2007-08: 26-56
Milwaukee Bucks

Scott Skiles hopes his no-nonsense style will help the Bucks make the postseason.
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
On Sept. 29, the Milwaukee Bucks took the court at the Cousins Center in St. Francis, Wis. and introduced themselves to the local media.

Bucks fans hope that after the media's cameras and recorders were put away, the players and coaching staff took a little time to introduce themselves to each other.

This offseason few teams in the NBA experienced as much turnover as the Milwaukee Bucks. From the front office to the coach to 10 -- count 'em, 10! -- new faces on the roster, these aren't your father's Milwaukee Bucks. Heck, they're not even my 1-year-old daughter's Milwaukee Bucks.

If any team needed to be scrubbed from top to bottom, besides the New York Knicks, the Bucks did. Last season, injuries, inexperience and egotism combined to make a toxic stew that culminated in a 26-56 record, the third-worst in franchise history. By the end of that season, even the casual fan could see those Bucks who staggered to the finish line didn't much care for the sight of each other.

Then again, most Bucks fans, who haven't seen this franchise win 43 or more games in a season since that glorious run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001, won't care about conflicting personalities in the locker room as long as those players can move the ball on offense and play some tough-nosed defense, both of which the Bucks either seemed uninterested in or incapable of doing last season.

So, this team needed tough love. New General Manager John Hammond had just the man for the job: Scott Skiles.

Though he holds the NBA single-game record for assists, 30 against the Nuggets in 1990, Skiles has become more famous for his pugnacity on the sidelines and getting into a spats with his players. Remember his tiff with then-Bulls center Ben Wallace over Big Ben's headband? Yeah. Fun. Skiles' abrasive, no punches-pulled style has rubbed players the wrong way, first in Phoenix and then in Chicago.

Yet, Skiles' philosophy of quick ball movement on offense and in-your-grille D often gets immediate results. In his first full seasons with the Suns and Bulls, Skiles had combined winning percentage of .597 (98-66). Can Skiles quickly turn things around in Milwaukee? That may depend on the one Buck who has seen plenty of change but has spent his entire eight-year career in the same place: Michael Redd.

The newly minted gold medalist must take charge on the court and in the locker room to make this team a playoff threat. Despite the addition of small forward Richard Jefferson and Andrew Bogut's post presence, this team, by virtue of his contract and longevity with the team, belongs to Redd. Yet, in the three seasons since he signed his six-year deal, Redd's Bucks have made the playoffs once and are a combined 94-152 in the regular season.

Maybe this is why Redd's value to the franchise has been debated on Bucks message boards and blogs (yes, there are such blogs: here, here, here and here) for the better part of two seasons now. Even Redd expressed surprise he wasn't part of Hammond's cleaning and dressing of last year's Bucks roster.

Redd can temporarily quiet his critics on the Intertubes and re-establish his All-Star credentials by synching with Skiles. Redd admitted he and former coach Larry Krystkowiak didn't see eye-to-eye last season, and not because Krystkowiak is four inches taller than Redd.

"There wasn't a huge chemistry there, obviously," Redd said. "But I'm professional and he was professional about it, and we had a professional working relationship."

Not exactly the warm-and-fuzzy relationship, especially in chilly Milwaukee, fans would like to see from their team leader and the coach. Will Redd be able to buy into Skiles' in-your-face, under-your-skin and on-your-nerves management style?

If Redd can do it, the Bucks have a chance to make some noise in the East. If not, it could be another lost season in Brew Town.

-- Rob Peterson

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Bogut
Considering I put Michael Redd squarely on the spot in the team overview, I can't repeat that down here. Any playoff team has at least two or three options (or scapegoats for blame?) they can rely on for consistent production. For the Bucks, option No. 2 wears No. 6.

In his third season in the NBA since he was tabbed with the No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Bogut started to develop into a solid second option in the Bucks offense. While some would point to his lofty draft position and say his development into a legit low-post option came two years too late, the Bucks will take Bogut's increased production and reliability any time. He averaged career highs in points (14.3 ppg), boards (9.8 rpg) and blocks (1.7 bpg), which was one block per game more than his previous two seasons.

As a matter of fact, Bogut put up some truly impressive numbers in his breakout season: He had 19 20-plus-point games in 2007-08, compared to just eight in his first two seasons; he had 14 four-plus block games, compared to one in his first two seasons; and he had 38 double-doubles last season compared to 31 in years one and two.

No wonder the Bucks signed him to an extension as soon as they could this offseason.

Now, it's up to Bogut to meet newer, loftier expectations.

-- Rob Peterson

THE STAT
.526 Franchise winning percentage through 40 seasons.
Skiles brings his tough, no nonsense style of play to the Bucks who over the past few years have treated defense as if it was something to do until they got the ball back.
The key here will be getting Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson on the same page. Jefferson has had Jason Kidd and Vince Carter to share the stage with so this shouldn’t be a problem for him.
The question will be if Michael can be taught to not break off plays and to try and take over the game in the fourth quarter. This led to the frustration many of his teammates felt as the season went on.
Look for Milwaukee to be much better defensively but a question mark on the offensive end.
Joe Alexander is an interesting rookie and one who’s athletic ability could make him and outstanding player once he garners some experience.
Still I don’t see them making the playoffs for at least another year or two.
-- NBA Scout
Villanueva finished last season strong, averaging about 16 points and eight boards per game over the last two months, once he started getting more minutes. With Yi Jianlian now in New Jersey, Villanueva has the opportunity to solidify his spot in the starting lineup, assuming he can impress new coach Scott Skiles.

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Record: 37-45, 9th in Eastern Conference
Playoffs: No postseason
Scoring Leader: M. Redd, 24.3 PPG
Rebounding Leader: A. Bogut, 8.5 RPG
Assist Leader: M. Redd, 5.3 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2007-08 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Luke Ridnour 6.4 1.5 4.0
SG Michael Redd 22.7 4.2 3.4
SF Richard Jefferson 22.6 4.2 3.1
PF Charlie Vilanueva 11.7 6.1 1.0
C 14.3 9.8 2.6

G Ramon Sessions 8.1 3.4 7.5
G Charlie Bell 7.6 2.5 3.1
F Joe Alexander -- -- --
F Francisco Elson 3.3 3.2 0.4
F Dan Gadzuric 3.2 2.8 0.4
F Joe Alexander Draft
F Malik Allen Free agent
G Tyronn Lue Free agent
F Francisco Elson Free agent
F Luke Ridnour Trade
G Adrian Griffin Trade
G Royal Ivey Free agent
F Bobby Simmons Trade
F Yi Jianlian Trade
G Mo Williams Trade
F Desmond Mason Trade
PPG Michael Redd 22.7
RPG Andrew Bogut 9.8
APG Mo Williams 6.3
SPG Mo Williams 1.18
BPG Andrew Bogut 1.73
Points Scored 97.02 (20th)
Points Allowed 103.9 (23rd)
Field-Goal Percentage .449 (18th)
Opponents' FG% .480 (30th)
Rebounding Diff. +1.00 (11th)
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Radio: WTMJ 620 AM
Web: Official site
Local Coverage: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel