Obviously, the basket bucks will start Craft, Smith and Thomas. What about the other two spots. Here's my thinking.
At center, you have to think that they will start either Ravenel or Amir Williams. Early in the season, I'm guessing they go with Ravenel, but I hope that Williams develops and can take over the starting gig by conference play. I think he has more upside, and could really set the tone defensively. Either way, you figure that these two guys will take all the minutes at the 5.
That leaves one spot. The front-runner seems to be Sam Thompson, who is coming off an impressive freshman debut. He is long, athletic, and plays defense well. The coaching staff has raved about his off-season, and has said that he has a much improved jumper. This lineup would leave Craft and Smith in the backcourt, and play Thompson at the three.
A second option is to start Ross at the three. Ross seems to be an unknown, as his minutes were limited last year in part because he was ineligible in the first semester. If the bucks choose Ross, it will be because they are worried about offense. Thomas is really the only true go-to option. I expect them to play quite a bit of pick and roll with Craft as well, but losing Sullinger and Buford leaves a big gap. Many of the players have raved about Ross' ability to shoot and score in general. A couple of concerns about going with Ross that I have are: defensively Thomas and Ross in together scares me, and offensively it may be tough to establish quality possessions with two saturation shooters on the court.
A third option is to start Scott in the backcourt with Craft, bumping Smith to the 3. This option would allow for a ton of perimeter pressure defensively, as both Scott and Craft get after people. Scott is also a very smart player, and can push the ball well. Scott has worked hard on his shot as well, and the coaches have emphasized how he has improved substantially over the summer as well (noting his shooting and his ability to push the ball in transition). While this lineup boost our ball handling and our perimeter defense, I have concerns about: outside shooting (neither Craft or Scott looked great shooting last year) and size (how do we guard big athletic 2's).
A fourth option would be to not start Smith. This might allow them to start Craft and Scott together with Ross/Thompson. I like Smith a lot, but some of the other guys may have more upside. I think that this won't happen, but still figured I'd throw it out there.
My gut tells me that they will go with Thompson (option 1), because he seemed to get the most minutes last year, he is great in transition, and oh yeah, he can jump. I also think that Thompson is a natural three. That would allow Scott and Ross to come off the bench with either Williams or Ravenel. I think those eight players will get the vast majority of the playing time, with Della Valle and McDonald getting minutes in pre-season and in blowouts.
What are your thoughts? Only a couple of weeks away from our basket bucks taking on Marquette!