When point guardMo Williams learned this summer that the Bucks had traded T.J. Ford to theRaptors, he wasn't as excited about inheriting Ford's starting job as you mightthink. "It was definitely a case of mixed emotions," says Williams."T.J. and I are best friends. But after a while we realized it was for thebest. T.J.'s happy in Toronto, and I love Milwaukee."
Last seasonWilliams, a 6'1" fourth-year pro out of Alabama, dazzled off the bench as ashoot-first point guard, scoring more than 20 points seven times and winningtwo games with buzzer-beaters. At the All-Star break he was a leading candidatefor the Sixth Man Award, and he might have won had he not been hobbled by afoot injury in the second half of the season.
Milwaukee hadenough confidence in Williams to trade Ford for a young power forward,6'10" Charlie Villanueva. "Mo is a dynamic player," Bucks shootingguard Michael Redd says. "I know everybody talks about T.J. and how fast heis, but Mo likes to push it too. He's underrated in that regard."
Williams might beone of the NBA's most underrated players, period. Two years ago, with Fordsidelined, he averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 assists in 80 games. He has a quickfirst step and a reliable shot, but he needs to improve as a floor general.Williams spent the summer watching film of Chauncey Billups and Steve Nash,among others, to get a feel for how they control the game.
"I'm a firmbeliever that everything happens for a reason," says Williams. "I guessyou could say this is my time. Now I just have to go out and prove it."
ProjectedStarting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics
Record: 40--42(8th in East)
Points scored: 97.8 (T13 in NBA)
Points allowed: 98.8 (19th)
Coach: Terry Stotts
(second season with the Bucks)
|F-G||RUBEN PATTERSON*||12.1 ppg||3.4 rpg||1.07 spg||51.5 FG%||60.1 FT%|
|G||CHARLIE BELL||8.4 ppg||2.0 rpg||2.2 apg||1.00 spg||43.9 FG%|
|G||STEVE BLAKE*||8.2 ppg||2.1 rpg||4.5 apg||0.62 spg||43.8 FG%|
|C||DAN GADZURIC||5.2 ppg||3.1 rpg||0.58 bpg||0.34 spg||55.3 FG%|
|F-C||BRIAN SKINNER*||2.9 ppg||3.5 rpg||0.66 bpg||51.3 FG%||48.2 FT%|
Enemy Lines Anopposing team's scout sizes up the Bucks
It makes sense tomove Andrew Bogut (who's expected to miss the first month with a left leginjury) to center, because he fits in with the way the league is heading,toward up-tempo play and centers who aren't physically dominant. Bogut is athreat from 18 feet and in, and while he's not the greatest defender yet, he'ssmart enough that he doesn't get in bad position.... If Charlie Villanuevadevelops consistency, then the trade for T.J. Ford will favor the Bucks bigtime. I don't know if Ford will ever be a really good teammate--he acts like hewants to be the star, which is one of the reasons they moved him.... MoWilliams looks for his shot first and is really an undersized two, butultimately I think he'll be respected more than Ford.... There were a lot oftimes you didn't notice Bobby Simmons in games--which is tough considering howmuch they paid him. He'll be their best post player, but I think they'd redothat contract if they could.... I'm a big Ruben Patterson fan. I know he has alot of issues, but he's a dirty dog who'll do whatever you ask.
Michael Reddbecame just the second Buck to score more than 2,000 points in a season,finishing with 2,028. The first? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who did it fivetimes.