Jason Kidd is GONE
I didn’t think the Bucks had the metaphorical balls to do it. Kidd has received so much of the credit for Giannis’ superstar development. I certainly didn’t think they’d do it with the Bucks still in a playoff spot before the All-Star break. I’m….I’m genuinely impressed with the front office right now (Oh wait, I just remembered they picked D.J. Wilson instead of listening to me and taking John Collins, nevermind).
Jason Kidd made a lot of fourth quarter mistakes, plain and simple. He’d have the wrong personnel on the court, or simply draw up awful plays during the last couple of minutes. It was also disappointing to see him calm and reluctant to show any expression when the team was getting their collective asses kicked as of late. Clearly the Bucks are admitting they’re playing below their expectations.
The Bucks are currently 23-22, standing at 8th in the East.
Over the past decade, just having a winning record in the Eastern Conference could essentially guarantee a playoff spot. In 2018, that’s no longer the case. Sure, the Celtics, Raptors, Wizards and Cavaliers are the only four guarantees to make the playoffs given their current roster talent, but the Heat (4th) and 76ers (7th) are both heating up significantly, and the Pacers (6th) and Pistons (9th) have shown they can put together decent runs as well. The Bucks have a roster good enough to be on the bubble of the playoffs, but they no longer have a cakewalk into May.
The Bucks are 4-6 over their last 10 games
Sure, having Giannis out is a good enough excuse to lose the last game, but some of these losses were easily preventable. The Bucks got annihilated by both the 76ers and the Heat, two teams they certainly have the talent to dismantle. Not having Jabari back yet isn’t a good enough excuse either, because even with Jabari out, they still have an MVP candidate in Giannis and two 20-points-a-game scorers in Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe. They also have the reigning Rookie of the Year in Malcolm Brogdon, a top-10 pick in Thon Maker, and a winger in Tony Snell who’s hitting 43% from beyond the arc this year. How is this team not performing better?
Milwaukee is THE worst rebounding team in the NBA
That’s not an over-exaggeration either. Their 38.6 Rebounds per Game are nearly two whole rebounds behind the second-worst rebounding team in Dallas. It doesn’t help that they’re 27th in 3 Point Percentage and 28th in Personal Fouls. If you can’t make the long shots, at least give yourself a second chance on the offensive end, but at a 48% rebounding rate
Jabari Parker returning isn’t going to solve their glaring weakness
Jabari’s return is inevitably going to make the Bucks better, but Jabari isn’t an interior defender. Sure, he pulled in over 6 rebounds a game before re-injuring his knee last season, but most of those are the same rebounds Giannis or Khris are pulling in right now. Plus, we don’t know how Jabari is going to play once he’s in the starting lineup again. We’ll likely see him coming off the bench for some time before he’s comfortable with playing over 30 minutes a game. Two ACL tears can really inflict some long-term physical and mental wear, meaning he shouldn’t be seen as this season’s savior. I think he’ll be a quality starter by April, but without improvement in defending the paint, it may not even matter.
The current rotation of John Henson, Thon Maker and two-way addition Marshall Plumlee is far from enough interior defense
John Henson is the Bucks’ longest-tenured player, but he certainly isn’t playing like a seasoned veteran. I haven’t liked Henson for a few seasons now, and I wish we traded him instead of Greg Monroe in the Eric Bledsoe deal, but I will give credit where credit is due and Henson has been more of an offensive factor this season. His 59% Field Goal Percentage is a career-high, and his Per-48 numbers are on pace with his 2013-14 campaign, the last time he saw over 24 Minutes a game. However, those Per-48 numbers are exactly why the Bucks went after Greg Monroe in Free Agency and Thon Maker in the Draft. Henson is 27, the normal peak age for professional development, and I wouldn’t disagree with anyone that claims we’ve seen what we’re going to get from Henson. In fact, he hasn’t really shown great strides in development over the last four seasons, statistically speaking. Thon Maker, as many people predicted, is still a long ways away from being a good interior defender. Through his second season, he’s hitting 35% of his threes, and while he’s developing some blocking ability given his height and frame, his skinny build is also resulting in Maker getting blown over by sturdy bigs like Marcin Gortat and Jonas Valanciunas, to name a couple. Marshall Plumlee will be a better two-way rebounding option than DeAndre Liggins and Joel Bolomboy, but he’s still at the quality level of a two-way player.
Hiring a head coach who will actually teach the players to play defense will be a good start, but this roster simply doesn’t have the rebounding ability to guarantee a playoff spot, let alone get past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
TRADE SCENARIO #1: The Bucks receive PG Kemba Walker and C Dwight Howard from Charlotte for C John Henson, PG Malcoim Brogdon, F Mirza Teletovic and F D.J. Wilson
I first heard this scenario on 105.7 The Fan. Charlotte is god awful this season, and with a potential rebuild right around the corner, both of these players have been popular among trade rumors. Dwight Howard is putting up 12.5 Rebounds a game, a drool-worthy statistic for the worst rebounding team in the league. I’m more than happy to give up John Henson to get Howard. Howard isn’t going to get plays drawn up for him, a common criticism of D12, but it’s not like the Bucks draw up plays for Henson either. Twice as many rebounds a game? Hell yes. Charlotte would get the reigning Rookie of the Year in Malcolm Brogdon, and Kemba would finally play in the playoffs. Malcolm Brogdon has been a 6th man at best since Eric Bledsoe has arrived, and those two don’t have a ton of chemistry on the court together anyways. D.J. Wilson has done next to nothing this season, and we’re not exactly starving for stretch-wingers given the talents of Giannis, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and Tony Snell. Mirza Teletovic was a decent 3-point shooter when healthy, but he’s overpaid and overrated. I’d get to shed two players I’d rather not see in a Bucks uniform and get a 12-rebound-per-game veteran and another 20-point scorer? Absolutely. Imagine a lineup with Eric Bledsoe, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dwight Howard with Jabari Parker coming off the bench?! That team would contend with any in the East. Sign me up.
TRADE SCENARIO #2: The Bucks receive C DeAndre Jordan for C John Henson and…..other players
Right off the bat, this seems like a harder deal to piece together. First of all, there’s no clear indication as to what the Bucks are willing to give up for DJ. It’s been rumored that the Clippers like John Henson and Khris Middleton, and both of their salaries combined would indeed match what would be required to get Jordan under the cap. For now, that’s what the placeholder image is above. However, it will probably take more than just those two. The Clippers have made it clear that they’re not going to “get pennies” for Jordan given they’re still in contention for a playoff spot. The thing is, I actually really like how Khris has played this season. This trade package could include Jabari Parker instead of Khris and still have some legitimicy, but I’m not necessarily comfortable with that either. Well, actually, maybe I would rather part with Jabari. Hell, throw in Mirza Teletovic or Matt Dellavedova if our chances would significantly increase. I’m fine with throwing in D.J Wilson, Sterling Brown or Rashad Vaughn in any deal as well. Jordan would solve a lot of problems for the Bucks, and regardless of whoever the next head coach is, they may have to give up a player like Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton to address their glaring Achilles heel.
TRADE SCENARIO #3: The Bucks receive C JaVale McGee or C Zaza Pachulia for….someone?
This one is strictly based on rumors. JaVale McGee wouldn’t be a big name addition by any stretch, but the Bucks could get an efficient, tall and consistent rebounder on a season rental of under $1.5 Million. Plus, they have pieces like Rashad Vaughn, Jason Terry, Sean Kilpatrick, Gary Payton II or Sterling Brown that they can easily afford to part with. I just included Vaughn in the scenario above because it meets cap restriction and, well, I don’t like Rashad Vaughn. He needs a new start elsewhere anyways. Zaza Pachulia is a bit more expensive at just under $3.5 Million, and he sees more minutes for Golden State, but Pachulia is a former Buck bearing familiarity with most of the staff. I’d be fine with shedding any of our young wings to get a solid, experienced rebounder for the rest of the season. Sometimes the under-the-radar deals make just as much of an impact, if not more, than the big ticket transactions towards a team’s success.
SCENARIO #4: The return of Andrew Bogut?
Yes, this is a strong possibility. Bogut was waived by the Lakers earlier this season and is expected to sign with one of a handful of suitors after the February 9th Trade Deadline. A homecoming would make sense for both parties. For Bogut, he gets the opportunity to get physical with some of the strongest centers in the league. Plus, he could make bank in marketing opportunities (basketball is a business, folks). For the Bucks, they would finally have a center that could eat up minutes in the paint going up against the more physical bigs in the league, something no one on their roster can currently do. His healthy hasn’t been a concern (yet) this season, and they can certainly afford whatever he’d need for the rest of the season. Out of all the transactions scenarios, this one is the least flashy, but probably the most realistic.
What do you think the Bucks should do to improve this roster?