NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Milwaukee Bucks: No ‘KIDD’ing

Nov 5, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) hangs onto the rim after dunking for a basket in the third quarter during the game against the Sacramento Kings at BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks beat the Kings 117-91. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 5, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) hangs onto the rim after dunking for a basket in the third quarter during the game against the Sacramento Kings at BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks beat the Kings 117-91. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Milwaukee Bucks

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS  offers a series entitled NBA 2016-17 Team Preview for each of the Houston Rockets’ 29 opponents. Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Included in each profile:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Previews now looks at the Milwaukee Bucks of the Central Division. The Bucks are comprised of arguably the greatest collection of lanky youthful players in the Association. With the loss of Milwaukee’s top producer Khris Middleton for the majority of the season the concerns about  improving  a bottom 5 offense loom.

Combine that issue with the Bucks hopes of reestablishing a strong defense akin to their efforts two seasons ago. Suffice to say the Bucks begin the 2016-17 season with copious problems to fix on both ends of the court.

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview: Milwaukee Bucks

2015-16 Record: 33 – 49

Playoffs:

Missed playoffs – finished 12th in Eastern Conference

Points Per Game: 99.0 (25th )

Opponent Points Per Game:  103.2 (17th)

Pace: 94.2 (23rd )

Offensive Rank:104.3 (26th )

Defensive Rank:  108.7 (23rd)

Three Point Rank:  34.5% (21st)

Rebounds: 41.7  (27th)

Assists: 23.1 (9th)

Steals: 8.2 (13th)

Blocks: 5.8 (7th)

Turnovers: 15.2 (25th)

Oct 30, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) and Washington Wizards forward Nene Hilario (42) battles for a rebound in the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 30, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) and Washington Wizards forward Nene Hilario (42) battles for a rebound in the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

Restricted:

  • Tony Snell

Unrestricted: 

  • Greg Monroe, (P)
  • Steve Novak
  • Jason Terry
  • Michael Beasley

All free agent updates confirmed via Basketball Reference and Sportrak

Future Draft Picks

See Real GM for full details:

Incoming:

  • 2018 second round draft pick from Dallas
  • 2020 second round draft pick from Washington

Outgoing:

  • 2019 second round draft pick to Philadelphia or Sacramento

Average Age of Team: 26.4 years (as per Real GM)

Jun 24, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Bucks general manager John Hammond (L), second round pick Malcolm Brogdon (13), first round pick Thon Maker (7), and head coach Jason Kidd (R) pose for a photo during an introduction press conference at the Milwaukee Bucks training facility. Mandatory Credit: Sam Caravana- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

Round 1: Thon Maker (10)

Round 2: Malcolm Brogdon (36)

2016 Free Agents

Restricted: Miles Plumlee

Unrestricted: Steve Novak, O.J.Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Jared Cunningham, Chris Copeland, Greivis Vasquez

Incoming:

Exiting: 

  • Jerryd Bayless 3-years, $27M to 76ers
  • Greivis Vasquez 1-year deal (no financials disclosed yet) to Nets
  • Chris Copeland signs training camp contract with Spurs
  • Jared Cunningham will play overseas
  • Michael Carter Williams

Re-upping:

Waived: Damien Ingles and Johnny O’Bryant

Suspended from league for 2 years due to failed drug test: O.J.Mayo

Nov 6, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd speaks to his team during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas over-under for wins: 39.5

Schedule strength:

As ranked by ESPN: 16th with 1.26 extra wins

The Bucks have six instances of home games played on three days’ rest, two more than any other team. Only one team will have more overall games with a rest advantage.

Games versus Rockets:

  • Wednesday January 18 at Toyota Center, in Houston, TX at 7PM CT/8PM ET
  • Monday January 23 at BMO Harris Bradley Center, in Milwaukee, WI at 7PM CT/8PM ET

Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank:  13th

Ah, the shooters thing. The Bucks don’t have nearly enough of them with Khris Middleton potentially out all season. Antetokounmpo’s positional versatility can paper over a lot of things — he can defend the wings Middleton would, for instance — but he can’t conjure shooting from thin air. Michael Beasley is never the answer to any basketball question, Jason Terry is ancient, and the youngsters are youngsters.

Here’s a lineup puzzle Milwaukee coaches are staring at: Try to get all three of Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Mirza Teletovic (and Teletovic’s pristine gelled hair) on the floor at the same time. Slot a center with that trio, and you’re playing super-big, with two of Parker/Antetokounmpo/Teletovic forced to defend wings. Downsize, and one of those three has to guard the opposing center. Milwaukee is confident all three can handle that in limited doses against some center types, and those smaller groups have a chance to be really exciting. (They could also be fatally awful at rebounding.)

Mar 21, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton (22) controls the ball during the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Committed Salary

2016: $102,620,580 – 13th ranked

2017: $115,646,964 – 3rd ranked

Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

Starting 5:

Point Guard:    Matthew Dellavedova  –  7.5 points,  4.4 assists,  2.1 rebounds

Shooting Guard:    Giannis Antetokounmpo – 16.9 points,  4.3 assists,  7.7 rebounds

Small Forward:   *Khris Middleton – 18.2  points, 4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds (Tony Snell likely to start in Middleton’s place while he is out)

Power Forward:    Jabari Parker –  14.1 points,  1.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds

Center:      Miles Plumlee –  5.1 points, 0.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds

Reserves:

Guards: Malcolm Brogdon, Rashad Vaughan, Jason Terry

Wings: *Tony Snell, Michael Beasley,  Steve Novak

Bigs: Greg Monroe,  John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, Thon Maker

Injury News:

  • Khris Middleton – hamstring,  had surgery and is targeting late March

All injury news as per rotoworld

Nov 5, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd reacts during the game against the Sacramento Kings in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths:

The Greek Freak: Much like a new born colt must learn to stand  Giannis Antetokounmpo has had to learn how to turn his DNA into consistent NBA assets. He no longer appears to be all arms as he’s finally grown into his body and added muscle. Antetokounmpo will fill the stat sheets and likely be the main competitor to Westbrook for triple-doubles this season.

Sleeper Draft Pick Brogdon: It’s not often fans see rookie interviews other than the prospects expected to go in the lottery. So, when Malcolm Brogdon spoke at a Raptors pre draft camp I remember thinking, this kid is going to be a great addition to whichever team gets him. He reminded me personality wise of a young Shane Battier who earned the nickname “the President”. Brogdon displayed those same character traits of humility, intelligence and thoughtfulness.

The Bucks Selected Malcolm Brogdon with their 36th pick no doubt due to his copious assets. But, he’ll add so much to this squad via his high character and quiet leadership traits. .

Overall Length: the first thought that crossed my mind when the Bucks selected 7’1″ Thon Maker in the draft was man this team is super long. Run down the roster and you’ll discover four players are 6’11  Antetokounmpko, Monroe, Henson and Plumlee. Likewise the Bucks’ guards are tall for their position with Dellavedova 6’4, Brogdan  6’5″,  Vaughan 6’6″, Snell 6’7 and Middleton is 6’8″. Jason Terry is the shortest on the squad  measuring in at 6’2″.  For teams who have difficulty dealing with length Milwaukee is a nightmare.

Weaknesses:

Replacing Middleton’s Scoring: With Middleton’s injury more emphasis falls on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jabari Parker needs to clear another hurdle as well since the Bucks relied so heavily on Middleton for their scoring. Milwaukee already sat in the bottom 5 for scoring and offense, so not only do they need to replace Middleton’s scoring they need to assign someone to be the go to option at game ends.

Reclaiming Defensive Prowess: two seasons ago the Bucks rose up the East’s ladder based on playing team defense. Last season they regressed on both sides of the court trying to be something they aren’t. The addition of Michael Carter Williams and Greg Monroe were busts with neither ever fully fitting into what the team envisioned for them.

Three Point Shooting: The Bucks ranked last in three pointers made and attempted last season. With Middleton providing most of that production it serves to shine a brighter spotlight on this issue.

Prediction:

This team has a ton of youth but lack depth. Milwaukee hoped to grow their core and utilize Middleton as the vet to help them get there. With his loss for 6 months minimum the already pinpointed offensive issues specifically on the perimeter become huge red flags.

In addition since losing veterans Ilyasova and Pachiula the Bucks have suffered to move the ball, especially in the paint.

As per my report pre free agency I anticipated the era of Michael Carter-Williams was over, so I wasn’t shocked when the team dealt him. The Bucks took a calculated gamble to build of team of (especially the starters) who were long and lean. Though MCW fit that mode his inability to hit from the field drew a larger target on the Bucks’ offensive weakness.  Now that the Bucks have got rid of MCW look for them to amp up efforts to trade Monroe prior to the deadline.

Best Case:  The Bucks take advantage of their early easy schedule to build momentum and stick just below .500 for the season toying with a  low rung playoff seed. Milwaukee will need to be a top 10 defense for that to occur.

Worst Case:  Depending on how much the franchise is willing to make this a development year this may be a moot point.  If the Bucks decide to tank to capture one of the many talented prospects expected in the very rich 2017 draft it may not matter how poorly they do as long as the team grows. Conversely Milwaukee may grow weary of repeated mediocrity and if they do then Jason Kidd may find himself in the hot seat.

Given the plethora of areas the Bucks need to fix I doubt they’ll be a contender even for the bottom rung. Barring a trade or consistent lock down defensive efforts night in and out the Bucks will be a bottom 7 team.

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