Australian rookie Andrew Bogut believes he can lead the Milwaukee Bucks to improvement but thinks a role as captain would be too soon in his NBA career.
"I really want to try and take over the reins a little bit more," he said. "I think I can be that guy, but I have to earn the respect of my teammates and my coaches and better respect in the league before I can start doing those things."
Bogut, named on Thursday to the NBA all-rookie first team, became the fourth No. 1 pick overall in 21 years to appear in the postseason in his rookie year, joining Tim Duncan, David Robinson and Chris Webber. But he was frustrated with both his season, when he averaged 9.4 points and seven rebounds, and how the team was eliminated in the playoffs.
"I have a lot of room to improve," said Bogut, who hopes to return to Australia by the beginning of next week. "I was too inconsistent. One game I scored two, and one game I scored 20. I've got a lot of work to do, especially on my jump shot."
Michael Redd tries to be a vocal leader, but it took a 13-year veteran to carry much of that weight, Bogut said.
"Ervin Johnson was our vocal leader and he didn't play a vital minute, so that's kind of tough on the team," he added.
Redd proved he could carry the Bucks for an entire season and reach the playoffs but he'll need help if Milwaukee wants to go deeper into the postseason. After re-signing Redd to a six-year, US$90 million deal last offseason as part of a US$200 million splurge in player contracts, Milwaukee made good on its promises to revamp the roster and reach the playoffs.
But the Bucks didn't become winners -- reaching the postseason with a 40-42 record -- and were tossed out in five games by the model of steadiness, the Detroit Pistons.
"We won some games this year with Michael, but you can't win consistently," Bogut said. "[The Pistons] have a lot of guys that can take over a game, and we need to get that way."
That's why a 10-game improvement from last season remains so frustrating. Redd averaged 25.4 points a game, but needed help from a different role player every night.