Bucks-Bobcats Preview

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.