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MANY BELIEVE that Andrew Bogut has failed to live up to his potential after being drafted No.�1 in 2005. One of those critics is Bogut. "That's definitely fair enough," he says. "I feel like I have to give more." Still, the 7-foot Australian center has been one of the few constants on a team beset by turmoil over the past 12�months--from lingering injuries to starters Michael Redd (knee), Bobby Simmons (foot, ankle) and Charlie Villanueva (shoulder); to the March firing of coach Terry Stotts; to the failed attempt by first-round pick Yi Jianlian to force a trade out of Milwaukee; to the contract squabble that preceded the re-signing of free-agent Charlie Bell.
Though he played 148 consecutive games before being sidelined with a left-foot injury last March, Bogut was maddeningly erratic: Only twice last season did he score in double figures on more than three straight occasions; his high was five in a row. But new coach Larry Krystkowiak expects him to deliver more regularly this winter, reminding naysayers that Bogut would now be a rookie had he completed his college eligibility at Utah. A former Bucks big man himself, Krystkowiak believes he can increase Bogut's comfort on the court by running more plays for him and by simplifying his pick-and-roll duties on defense. "I'm expecting him to be a double double guy on a consistent basis," Krystkowiak says. "The big thing is his energy and his exuberance. When he plays with the reckless abandon we know he can, he's Andrew Bogut. If he paces himself, all of a sudden he loses his edge."
Bogut now even looks more the part of a dominant NBA big man, having traded in his shaggy surfer locks for a close-cropped 'do and added 15 pounds of muscle. "Mentally and physically he's a lot stronger, a lot wiser to the league," Krystkowiak says. "He seems to be more comfortable in the environment."
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Bucks
Michael Redd is probably the best catch-and-shoot player in the league--it's close between him and Ray Allen. When you play the Bucks, you build your defense around stopping Redd because he takes a lot of shots. But he's a given. If they're going to win, it's up to their other guys. . . . Mo Williams has become more of a scorer than a point guard, a shoot-first, pass-second guy. But he does a good job of keeping opposing point guards out of the paint. He's very athletic and strong, and he can guard the ball. . . . Rookie Yi Jianlian really struggled in summer league, which is the equivalent of D-League basketball, but he may get a lot of minutes because Charlie Villanueva has been injury prone. Villanueva is definitely an offensive threat, but he isn't a prototypical power forward; he's a pick-and-pop guy who shoots the three and plays more like a small forward. . . . The question that ultimately comes up is whether this team can stop anybody. I don't think the Bucks can.