Milwaukee Bucks History: Top 10 Power Forwards In Franchise History
The Milwaukee Bucks have had a wide variety of forwards over the years, but who are the 10 best power forwards in franchise history?
To say that he Milwaukee Bucks have had a diverse mix of talents to suit up for the team at power forward over the years would be putting it mildly..
Having looked at the top 10 point guards, shooting guards and small forwards to have suited up for the Bucks over the past few weeks, this week it’s the turn of Milwaukee’s power forwards to be put under the microscope.
In the team’s history, for all of the exceptional talent the franchise has seen, much of it has been distributed across the other four positions on the floor.
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Sure, the Bucks have had a number of very good power forwards over the years, but as you’ll see as you read through this list, Milwaukee’s fours have often been specialists rather than stars.
That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions, of course, and two of the more accomplished scorers the city has seen did suit up for Milwaukee at that position.
Weighing up production, consistency, longevity, impact and achievements as Bucks, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 power forwards in franchise history.
Let’s get down to it!
10. Harvey Catchings
Perhaps best known among Bucks fans for being traded alongside Marques Johnson and Junior Bridgeman in a deal with the Clippers that brought back a player who ranks much higher on this list, Catchings was a solid but unspectacular backup on the great Bucks teams of the mid 80s.
Having been drafted 42nd overall in 1974, Catchings did a good job of carving out a lengthy and respectable NBA career for himself, with his time with the Bucks offering no exception to that bigger picture.
As a part of a team that often ran with more versatile, smaller forwards at the four spot, Catchings was a reliable effort big off the bench or in spot minutes as a starter. Statistically he didn’t do too much in Milwaukee, but the reality is, with the caliber of his teammates he never really had to.
In five seasons as a Buck, Catchings averaged 3.2 points and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 42.6 percent from the field across his 372 games in Milwaukee. He also inspired his daughter, Tamika’s love of the game, leading her to go on to become a WNBA champion and 10-time All-Star.
9. Jason Caffey
Landing in Milwaukee in the final seasons of his career, Caffey never fully managed to live up to some of the flashes of potential he displayed in his early years with the Chicago Bulls, in spite of the two championship rings he has to show for his time in the Windy City.
Still, Caffey became a meaningful contributor for the Bucks during the time of their resurgence at the turn of the millennium, and could have continued beyond that if issues with anxiety and other off the court distractions hadn’t gotten in the way.
The Alabama native arrived for his first year with the team as they worked their way towards the Eastern Conference Finals and played a meaningful role providing energy off the bench for that group.
Caffey would remain in Milwaukee for two seasons beyond that and for his three seasons overall as a Buck, he averaged 6.2 points and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting 47.7 percent from the field across 144 games.
Aside from starring in some truly bizarre/terrifying Bucks commercials (more on that in the coming days), Charlie Villanueva also played for Milwaukee for three promise-filled seasons in his early career.
Charlie V was drafted by the Raptors as the seventh overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft and was traded to the Bucks in the following season in exchange for T.J. Ford. With injury having already taken the wind out of Ford’s sails as a Buck, picking up Villanueva gave the Bucks another new young hope.
Villanueva was never destined for superstardom, but he did show steady development during his time in Milwaukee. The former UConn Husky became a steady scorer and rebounder before ultimately leaving for Detroit as a free agent.
In a three year spell as a Buck, Villanueva averaged 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 193 games, as well as averaging 44.7 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from three-point range.
7. Luc Mbah A Moute
Not only a Cameroonian prince who discovered Joel Embiid, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has long been a solid NBA role player, including when he got his start in the league as a Buck.
Mbah a Moute was selected by Milwaukee as the 37th overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, and in spite of limited expectations, he became a stalwart of Bucks teams with varying degrees of talent over the next five years.
Not a player to post gaudy numbers by any means, Mbah a Moute was a versatile forward for the Bucks who started over 230 games for the team as well as starting each game of playoff play that Milwaukee appeared in during that span.
During his tenure with the Bucks, Mbah a Moute was not a headline maker but a reliable contributor. He averaged 6.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists, while shooting 46 percent from the field.
It’s early for this, there’s no disputing that. Jabari Parker has been with the Bucks for two seasons now, but has only really played a little over one thanks to injury. Still, he’s already shown greater ability than any of those he ranks ahead of and has certainly given the franchise greater hope.
A young Midwesterner with a strong sense of what life in the region is really like, Parker seemed like a natural fit for Milwaukee from the moment he was drafted. The flashes of offensive skill in the time since have suggested that Parker has what it takes to scale to the top of this list in the coming years.
Parker has started his career with the Bucks with a stronger foundation of talent than almost any power forward the franchise has ever seen, and with his play pre-injury as a rookie and post All-Star break in his comeback season, he’s already working his way towards earning his status in franchise history upon merit alone.
For his Bucks career to date, Jabari is averaging 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game on 49.2 percent shooting from the field.
5. Fred Roberts
A second round pick in the 1982 NBA Draft, Fred Roberts certainly maximized every ounce of his ability during a lengthy career in the NBA. That included a strong spell with the Bucks as the 80s turned into 90s.
Like a number of players on this list, Roberts was generally not the the guy who the Bucks leaned on for star contributions, but the former BYU Cougar was the consummate professional and certainly had his share of memorable moments.
Roberts deputized for the injured Terry Cummings as the Bucks went toe-to-toe with the eventual champion Pistons in the 1989 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, as can be seen in the video above. And even after playoff glories were fading for the Bucks, Roberts remained a factor.
As a Buck, the Utah native averaged 9.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, while shooting 50.5 percent from the field in just under 400 games.
4. Greg Smith
Although he’s not the first name that comes to mind when people talk about the 1971 championship winning Bucks, Smith was a popular figure within that team and someone whose role has picked up greater significance in time.
Taken in the fourth round of the 1968 NBA Draft, Smith was a part of the Bucks from day one and went on to become a key part of their success in the years that followed. As a power forward who was only 6’5″, Smith brought incredible energy to his performances and endeared himself to his teammates.
Smith was said to have been Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s favorite Bucks teammate, and his trade in the summer of ’71 was highlighted by Oscar Robertson as a big mistake that stopped the Bucks from making further strides the next year.
In four important seasons where he contributed between the bench and the starting unit, Smith averaged 9.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists, while shooting 48.2 percent from the field.
He may have spent years as a player Bucks fans were desperate to see traded and he may have gone through spates of inconsistent play that were a source of great frustration, but overall Ersan Ilyasova was a loyal servant for the Bucks who performed at a high level for a long time.
Drafted in 2005, Ilyasova was close to a permanent fixture for the Bucks throughout a decade where he got to play on teams that could be very accurately described as the good, the bad, and the ugly. On second thought, maybe the good doesn’t belong in there.
Still, Ilyasova contributed manfully, drawing charges and occasionally knock down shots, as he developed from a back of the rotation young international player to a key starter on a big money deal.
For Ilyasova’s 10 seasons in Milwaukee, he averaged 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range.
2. Vin Baker
Although it would be another year before Milwaukee would get their hands on Glenn Robinson via the first overall pick of the 1994 NBA Draft, the first real rays of hope for the franchise in terms of fresh, young talent arrived in 1993 with the selection of Vin Baker.
A strong power forward with a versatile scoring touch, Baker had impressed during his time in college at Hartford and didn’t really waste any time in making an impression when he landed in the NBA as a Buck.
Baker would only stay with the Bucks for four seasons before being traded to Seattle, but following on from his rookie year he stood out for the team by making three straight All-Star appearances.
Baker’s spell with the Bucks may not have been as long as many of the franchise’s other greats, but he’s remained a popular figure ever since. As a Buck, he averaged 18.3 point, 9.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists, while shooting 49.4 percent from the field.
1. Terry Cummings
As successful as the Bucks were in the late 70s/early 80s, there roster at the time left an impression of a natural drop-off coming up near on the horizon as many of the team’s best players began to age. With the arrival of Terry Cummings, Milwaukee was able to prolong that success.
On a team packed with great creators, Cummings arrived as a third year player and took on the mantle of being his team’s primary scorer. In that department, Cummings replaced Marques Johnson with ease, ensuring that the Bucks didn’t miss a beat in their pursuit of glory.
Cummings went on to have an exceptionally long career in the NBA and was a long time member of the San Antonio Spurs, but saw his production drop off relatively sharply following his departure from Milwaukee.
During six seasons and 480 regular season games with the franchise, Cummings averaged 19.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists, while shooting 48.4 percent from the field.
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