Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Our infatuation with the Chicago Bulls this summer has angered some in the shadow of the Windy City, namely a few fans of their neighbors to the north and west in Milwaukee.
“The Bulls aren’t the only Central Division team on the rise,” one email reminded us late last week.
“We’ve got our own [potential] superstar point guard in Brandon Jennings, an All-Star caliber big man in Andrew Bogut and a proven coach in Scott Skiles,” another said, “plus we’ve got the reigning Executive of the Year in John Hammond, who has put together a solid supporting cast that is every bit as good as what the Bulls will trot out on the floor this season. Fear the Dear!”
These don’t register as simple complaints from biased observers. Bucks fans have a right to demand their team receive its due as one of the league’s up and coming outfits. They were better than the Bulls at the end of last season, playing without Bogut down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Why shouldn’t they be included in the conversation of the most promising young teams in the league?
No team in the Central Division, including the Bulls, has added more than the Bucks. They traded for assets — Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts and the highly underrated Jon Brockman, an instant fan favorite in Fear The Deer Country. They signed free agents — John Salmons, Drew Gooden, Keyon Dooling — to fit specific needs. And they drafted plenty of talent, including Larry Sanders, Darrington Hobson, Jerome Jordan and Tiny Gallon (Sanders is the only draft pick guaranteed a roster spot).
Hammond loves his team, as he explained to the Journal Sentinel recently:
“It’s players that can help us win and players that we think are assets around the NBA,” he said. “That’s really what it comes down to when you put your roster together. If you look at guys on your roster and say that he’s not an asset around the NBA and he’s not an asset on your team, then you have yourself in a position where you need to make some moves.
“The thing I like about our roster is all 12 guys that we have are assets to us and assets around the NBA. I like that part about where we’re at.”
A healthy Bogut turns this team into a major problem inside. And having Salmons and Maggette on the wing alongside Jennings keeps things intact on the perimeter. Dependable role players like Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Mbah a Moute, should not be overlooked either.
The one player the Bucks lost that worried us was HT fave Luke Ridnour, who has moved on to that point guard festival in Minnesota. But the signing of Dooling takes care of that.
Dooling is bigger and more physical than Ridnour, giving the Bucks a veteran option behind Jennings capable of handling the bigger guards teams used to defend the surprisingly durable Jennings (he started all 89 games for the Bucks last season) in an attempt to slow him down.
Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman summed it up best:
“In today’s NBA, with the way the rules are, it’s so important to have a guy who can guard the ball on top,” Weltman said. “And Keyon has always been a premier NBA defender. He’s got length and quickness and as he’s gotten older, he’s figured it out.
“The other nice thing about Keyon is he takes pride in it. He’s a good fit with (coach) Scott (Skiles); he fits into the team we want to be.”
Plenty of folks have fallen in love with the star power the Bulls will have on display this season. And we’re on board. We believe Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and the crew will be a major factor in the Eastern Conference this season.
But the Bucks should be in the mix, too.
They’ve got all the ingredients to make some noise of their own this season.