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Bogut a key to our future: Bucks
James Dampney
16:46 AEST Thu Apr 14 2011
Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut.
The Bucks are pinning their hopes for the future on Andrew Bogut lifting himself to All-Star status.

The Milwaukee Bucks are pinning their hopes for the future on Andrew Bogut lifting himself to All-Star status as they try to return to the NBA playoffs next season.

The Bucks signed off on a disappointing season with a 110-106 overtime win over playoff-bound Oklahoma City on Thursday, leaving them ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 35-47 record.

It comes 12 months after Milwaukee were tagged as a team on the rise after a surprising 46-36 return in 2009-10.

For the Bucks to drag themselves back into the postseason, they are focusing on Bogut and point guard Brandon Jennings, who couldn't quite back-up his impressive rookie year this season.

"Our goal is to become a good team consistently and we know probably the two key factors in that are going to be the improvement of Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut," Milwaukee general manager John Hammonds told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

"We've said we need both of those guys to be All-Star caliber players at a minimum to be in that discussion.

"Right now, (Bogut) is a very effective back-to-the-basket player.

"We can run our offence through him, but Andrew knows this.

"He's got to develop that short bank shot off the glass, that elbow jump shot and free throw line jump shot.

"That's the simple difference between Andrew being an All-Star and not being an All-Star - the ability to make the face-up shot."

Bogut had a mixed season, with the seven-foot Australian likely to be in the running for the defensive player of the year award, but also suffering a significant dip in his offensive production.

Still affected by the horrible arm injury he sustained last year, Bogut shot just 49.5 per cent from the field and a dismal 44.2 per cent from the free-throw line.

But he was a force in the paint defensively, leading the league in blocked shots with 2.6 per game and averaging a career-high 11.1 boards, sixth overall in the NBA.

Bogut, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to clean out his right elbow this week, has to improve on his 12.8 points per game to lift Milwaukee into the NBA's elite.

"It would be nice for him to get healthy quickly so he can work on his game - his post game, his shooting, his free throws," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.

Of the other Australians in the NBA, Patty Mills established himself as a back-up point guard with Portland this season and is preparing to help the Blazers in the playoffs.

He did his chances of some playoff minutes no harm by exploding for a career-high 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting in a loss to Golden State on Thursday.

And big man David Andersen bounced from Houston to Toronto in the off-season and was then shipped to New Orleans, where he averaged just 7.7 minutes per game off the bench.


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