Welcome to the ESPN Wisconsin Roundtable, where our panel of on-air experts discuss the hot sports topics of the moment. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts via the Facebook portal at the bottom of the page. If you’d like to suggest a topic for a future debate, send it to email@example.com.
Lance Davis, ESPN MIlwaukee program director
I don't see the Bucks returning to the playoffs with the current 15 players on the roster. This team needs to find an identity and become consistent on both ends of the court. Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indiana and Atlanta should lock up the top six spots in the East. That leaves only two playoff openings, and I need to see a lot from the Bucks before I start believing.
Homer Yes The Bucks will make the playoffs as a No. 8 seed. They are the only team in the league that believes that making the playoffs as an eighth seed is in the best interest of the team. They need to get terrible again to have a chance for greatness with an early draft choice.
Tom Lea, ESPN Madison
It depends on how well Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings play off one another. Obviously, both are in contract years so that should provide enough motivation for each to have a big season, especially when it comes to giving the team the offensive production it desperately needs.
I like the length defensively — if you’re going to have 14 (exaggerating) guys at 6-foot-9 or larger, you better have somebody to alter shots and force teams to adjust offensively. But, I need to see how some of the young players develop under Scott Skiles. The Bucks were operating at their highest level when they had a productive big man (Andrew Bogut). Knowing that, you hope the Bucks get solid defensive and offensive production from their bigs. If they do, they could reach the playoffs and potentially top out at a No. 7 seed.
If they don’t they’ll wind back up in the lottery.
Dan Needles, "The D-List"
I believe the Bucks will make the playoffs with 43 wins. I think the East is the much tougher conference, at least at the top, but I think Milwaukee will edge out the Knicks, Bobcats, Magic, Pistons and Cavaliers for the eighth spot behind Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indiana, Brooklyn, Boston and Atlanta.
Gabe Neitzel, ESPN Madison
The Bucks will be able to outscore enough opponents with their two quick guards in Ellis and Jennings. Milwaukee was 12-9 in games that Ellis played in last season, and if they were to finish a few games above .500, that should be enough to grab the No. 8 seed in the Playoffs. However, Milwaukee not giving Jennings an extension has the possibility to linger over the season, and they could trade him before the deadline, just to get something in return. Should that happen, all bets are off.
Mitch "Thunder" Nelles, "Homer and Thunder"
BJ3 and Monta can't shoot well enough, and the rest of the team stinks.
Drew Olson , "The D-List"
It’s possible that the Bucks could grab a No. 7 or 8 seed, but they will need to avoid catastrophic injuries and will need another team or two (Washington? Orlando? New York?) to hit the skids. The Bucks have a fascinating dynamic with Scott Skiles at the end of his contract and Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings playing for their next contracts. The bigger players, like Samuel Dalembert and Larry Sanders, could be the difference between success and failure. Bottom line: this team needs to avoid offensive droughts and bring remarkable intensity every night. This team could beat the Heat one night and lose to the Pistons the next. That kind of inconsistency won’t lead to a playoff run.
I think this team will toil on the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket, but then smartly make a move to send Brandon Jennings away for some future draft picks. This team has two above average players in Jennings and Monta Ellis who are surrounded by a bunch of players who wouldn't crack the top six on a championship contending team.
If I base my opinion on the one preseason game I saw -- at the Resch Center in Green Bay -- the Bucks are headed straight for the lottery.. Then again, they had Alando Tucker and Mustapha Farrakahn on their roster for that one. Looking at their backcourt, a motivated Brandon Jennings could put together a strong offensive year. One thing that I noticed watching him was, he looks like a man now. He’s not a young kid playing in the NBA. He appears to have matured physically. I'm anxious to see how not getting one of those four-year extensions being handed out to every young point guard and his brother impacts his play.
Matt Salmon , "The D-List"
Another year means another roster rotation for the Bucks, so I'm a little hesitant to say yes. In theory Milwaukee has scorers in Jennings, Ellis, Dunleavy, Ilyasova and Gooden chipping in and then a front court defensive anchor. However I think the word of the season will be "inconsistent," as there are going to be nights where Jennings & Ellis will combine to make 5 of 27 shots and the next night go 19 for 29. I'm picking the Bucks for 40 wins, which will keep them competitive in a bad Eastern Conference, but I'll say no.