Bucks-Bobcats Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 24, 2011
The rosters look different for both the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats, partly due to a draft-night trade involving each team. It remains to be seen if those changes will translate to more victories. Charlotte hosts Milwaukee in each club's season opener Monday night as both seek a return to the postseason after a one-year absence. In a three-team trade with Sacramento during June's draft, Charlotte acquired seventh overall pick Bismack Biyombo and former Buck Corey Maggette before drafting Kemba Walker - who led Connecticut to the national championship - with the ninth selection. Milwaukee got Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston from Charlotte, along with 19th pick Tobias Harris. Owner Michael Jordan's Bobcats decided to overhaul their roster after a 34-48 season, already having traded Gerald Wallace to Portland in February. Coach Paul Silas hopes Maggette can bolster the scoring, a category in which the Bobcats ranked 29th in the NBA in 2010-11. Mostly, though, Charlotte is looking for young guards D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson to continue their solid play from the second half of last season as the rookies develop. "That's what you need are guys who are going to go at it all out because let's face it, we're not the most talented team in the world right now," Silas said. "We have certain aspects of our team that we can really accelerate and that's what we have to do." Augustin averaged 15.3 points after Silas was hired to replace Larry Brown on Dec. 22, compared to 12.8 before his arrival. He and Walker have seemed to bring out the best in each other during camp - something Jordan anticipated. "Mike looked at Kemba and saw himself," Silas said. "Mike said, 'This guy has it.' He said if he can lead (Connecticut) to the championship then he has what I have - and that's the determination to do it." Walker hopes to bring that winning attitude to a Charlotte franchise that hasn't won a playoff game in its seven seasons of existence. "I'm very competitive in whatever I do. I don't like to lose," Walker said. "And growing up and watching Michael Jordan play I know he didn't like to lose. That's the same kind of mentality, that whatever-it-takes mentality." Milwaukee hopes a Charlotte castoff in Jackson can help provide the scoring it greatly lacked in 2010-11. The Bucks (35-47) averaged an NBA-worst 91.9 points and shot a league-low 43.0 percent last season. Jackson averaged 18.5 points in 67 games for Charlotte last season after topping 20 in each of the previous three with the Bobcats and Golden State. With Jackson alongside Brandon Jennings and a fully healthy Andrew Bogut, coach Scott Skiles thinks the Bucks can be a more dangerous team. "We feel like we've got a lot of versatility there, and theoretically, a deeper team's going to be a better team," Skiles said. "It's always a better team, but this year, it's going to be more important." Bogut suffered a horrible arm injury in April 2010, and he played through the lingering pain most of last season to average 12.8 points and a career-high 11.1 rebounds. The former No. 1 overall pick feels he'll be more prepared this season, especially with the extended time off due to the lockout. Bogut had a broken hand, dislocated elbow and sprained wrist from the initial injury. "The trauma of the injury, the nerves and the ligaments and the muscles sustained, it was a tricky process trying to mentally get back on track," Bogut said. "The blessing in disguise was the lockout." The Bucks ranked third in the league last season allowing only 92.7 points per game, but lacked the scoring to be more competitive. Jennings, who averaged a team-high 16.2 points, said he hopes they can surprise teams over the course of the 66-game season. "We're always the underdog," Jennings said. "I think that's the best thing about it, not to get so much attention and just sneak up in there, be one of those teams that sneak up in there." The home team has won each of the last 10 meetings between Milwaukee and Charlotte.
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