Does the slipper still fit East's Cinderella?

Updated: July 14, 2004, 1:59 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Last season about this time, I was leading the chorus that claimed the Milwaukee Bucks were going to be the worst team in the East.

They had a rookie point guard, a second-round pick playing the two, an undersized two guard at the three, an underachieving, overpaid big man who thinks he's a shooting guard at the four, and Daniel Santiago and Joel Przybilla in the middle.

The Bucks' lineup didn't exactly instill confidence.

So when Milwaukee started rolling over everyone early in the season, the head scratching eventually turned into appreciation. The Bucks weren't pretty, but they played the game the right way. Given the talent erosion in the league, the Bucks and Jazz proved that heart was enough to win basketball games.

Guiding the turnaround were Bucks GM Larry Harris and coach Terry Porter. Harris had suffered as assistant GM through the team's Big Three era. The only thing bigger than Glenn Robinson, Sam Cassell and Ray Allen's bank accounts during their stint in Milwaukee were their egos.

The old Bucks had star power, but no fire. The new Bucks, Harris envisioned, would play like an inferno, but at only a fraction of the cost.

The team caught everyone by surprise, and had rookie point guard T. J. Ford remained healthy, Milwaukee had a good shot at the No. 4 playoff seed in the East.

Can the team duplicate its success this year, or were the Bucks a one-hit wonder?

Here's a look at what to expect as Insider continues its summer blueprint series.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer