NBA training camps start up in a few weeks. In the meantime, we’re going team-by-team, from 1 to 30, exploring what each team’s ceiling is for the upcoming season and where their basement is. In other words, what are the realistic best-case and worst-case scenarios for each squad?
Additions: SF Richard Jefferson, SF Joe Alexander, PG Luke Ridnour, PG Tyronn Lue, PG Damon Jones, C Francisco Elson.
Losses: PG Mo Williams, SF/PF Yi Jianlian, SF Desmond Mason, SF Bobby Simmons.
Ceiling: Inconspicuous Lottery team
How good is Richard Jefferson? When he had Jason Kidd and Vince Carter running 1-2 to his 3, the Nets seemed to peak at a second-round playoff exit. In RJ’s new home, the Ramon Sessions/Michael Redd backcourt doesn’t quite measure up to Kidd/Carter. Is Jefferson good enough to vault the Bucks into the playoffs on his own? Not really. Andrew Bogut is one of the better young centers in the League, as evidenced by the 14.3-point, 9.8-rebound line he put up last year and the $72 million extension Milwaukee put up for him over the summer. Neither Sessions, Ridnour or Lue is as talented as the departed Mo Williams, but they’re all pass-first PG’s who may be better in the long run for what the Bucks need. Charlie Villanueva‘s progress was curtailed for a year while Milwaukee had to carve out minutes for Yi, but he should see more PT this year between the three and four spots.
Basement: Worst team in the League
If Redd looks worried in the photo above, he should be. There are so many questions here and not a lot of definitive answers: Is Redd really a franchise player? Is RJ a legit second option after being a career-long third option? Is Sessions ready to be a full-time starter when his ’08 “breakout” only really covered a 10-game stretch of totally meaningless games in which the Bucks went 2-8? Is Bogut worth that much money, and will he be less motivated now that he’s unfathomably rich? Was Joe Alexander‘s poor summer league performance an ominous sign? How long before new coach Scott Skiles goes from “motivating” to “irritating”? And is there a mathematical formula that directly correlates the number of games you’ll lose to how much PT Damon Jones gets?