102115-roberto-ruiz-Bucks Are Young and Talented

The Milwaukee Bucks will start the 2015-16 season with zero starters over the age of 25. In addition to having the youngest starting five in basketball, they are expected to once again make a playoff push and hopefully make it past the first round.

Count this writer as a skeptic prior to the 2014-15 season. Envisioning the Bucks winning 25 games was a stretch, let alone making the playoffs. They didn’t just squeak by into the playoffs either, they won the sixth seed and the right to play Chicago in the opening round. Chicago, though, won four games to two in the best of seven series and advanced with the right to play Cleveland in round two. Bucks players returned home for the summer, but had no reason to hang their heads.

Heading into this season, I have learned my lesson and I do not doubt the talent or chemistry of the current conglomeration of players. Khris Middleton burst out of his cocoon and became a star that the Bucks desperately needed to answer the bell at the end of games. Middleton did that and much more, earning himself a nice payday during this offseason. Michael Carter-Williams began to develop into the player that many experts hoped he would be, and in the process began to shoot a little less and pass a little more. Hopefully this season leads to another leap for Carter-Williams. Giannis Antetokounmpo became one of the most exciting players in the league by chasing down defenders and using his incredibly long frame to euro-step his way to the basket. Antetokounmpo is only 20 years old and will easily become somebody the Bucks can mold their future around. John Henson developed his body into that more closely resembling an NBA player and was able to hold his own in the paint against the bigger and stronger power forwards in the NBA.

The biggest issue with the Bucks during the 2014-15 campaign was clearly the center position. Zaza Pachulia was simply not going to get it done for the Bucks, yet he was the one starting during the playoffs. This situation was remedied by acquiring the offensively talented but defensively challenged Greg Monroe from the Detroit Pistons. Monroe is also one of the young centers in the league that has a bright future; he just needs to put together the pieces on the defensive end like he has on the opposite side of the court.

Coach Jason Kidd has proven that he knows what he is doing on the hardwood, whether it is in a uniform or a suit. Though the means of acquiring Kidd remain questionable, he was able to get the most out of a young and inexperienced team and there is a lot to be said for that.

Hopefully this team can take the next step and contend for home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Once a top four seed is secured, they can start looking at advancing to round two.

Season prediction: 48-34, 4th place finish in the Eastern Conference.