Playoff Result: Lost in First Round
Key Additions: Caron Butler (trade), O.J. Mayo (free agent), Brandon Knight, (trade) Zaza Pachulia (free agent), Carlos Delfino (free agent), Gary Neal (free agent), Giannis Antetokounmpo (draft), Nate Wolters (draft), Larry Drew (coach)
Key Losses: Brandon Jennings (trade), Monta Ellis (free agent), J.J. Redick (trade), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (trade), Mike Dunleavy Jr. (free agent)
Projected 2013-14 Record: 29-53 (11th in East)*
What to Expect: After making the playoffs for the first time in three seasons last year, Milwaukee has revamped nearly their entire roster.
They did enough over the summer to fight for the eight seed in East (again), but won’t be bad enough to contend for a top draft pick. Milwaukee built depth, but they’ve got no real direction or star power.
The Bucks are building around Larry Sanders as their franchise big, similar to what Milwaukee’s head coach Larry Drew did in Atlanta with Al Horford. They let Jennings, Ellis and Redick walk, then filled their spots with Luke Ridnour, Mayo and Butler. It’s easy to see their scoring will likely take a hit, but Milwaukee should play as a more cohesive team. Drew is the perfect coach for this situation, where it seems that players will likely be interchangeable from the bench to the starting lineup throughout the season to match other teams.
They’ve got a good young core on paper, but maturing and developing as a team will be a challenge. Knight still has some upside, Antetokounmpo and Wolters both have their difficulties transitioning as rookies (adjustments from Euroball and size, respectfully). Sanders still has some growing up to do and needs to develop more of an offensive game. Henson is solid and he’ll look to make a leap in Year 2 after a solid summer league appearance.
Matchup with the Hawks: Both team’s depth are quite similar. Drew helped the Bucks build their roster over the summer and Budenholzer takes over the core of what Drew left behind in Atlanta.
Sanders and Horford should take the chunk of time at center, with the former standing as a defensive force and Horford competing with a solid offensive repertoire. Atlanta and Milwaukee basically traded reserve centers, as Gustavo Ayon backs up Horford this season and Zaza Pachulia took his talents to the Bucks.
Paul Millsap and Elton Brand stockpile the power forward position with the Hawks, but Ersan Ilysova and Henson are strong options at the 4.
Teague and Schröder match up fairly evenly with Knight, who’s a young, consistent guard and Ridnour is a stable, veteran guard. The German guard is intriguing and could bring a punch off the bench with his electric play against the aging Ridnour.
Butler and Korver should trade shots at the 3, while DeMarre Carroll is a defensive stopper for Atlanta and Antetokounmpo provides depth as another wing shooter.
Look for these contests to stay competitive, but Atlanta knows the ins and outs of Drew’s system, so expect the Hawks to take two out of three.
*predicted record based on Bo’s ESPN Forecast projections for every team