No NBA general manager has filled more punch lines over the past three years than Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn. In every year of his tenure as the Timberwolves general manager, Kahn has created more positional logjams than a beaver preparing for winter. Most of his moves to hoard point guards and forwards have been met with criticism, but creating competition and insurance by overstocking players at one position is hardly a method exclusive to David Kahn.
Milwaukee Bucks GM John Hammond has done something similar over the past year, particularly at the power forward position. Milwaukee entered the 2010-11 season with five power forwards on their roster and Andrew Bogut as the team’s only pure center. Coach Scott Skiles said that could be seen as a good problem because it creates competition that should logically work itself out, rotation-wise. While good in theory, it certainly didn’t pan out that way.
In 2010-11, Bucks power forwards combined to average a 14.3 PER (second worst on the team), 13.6 shot attempts per game (last on the team), and 16.1 points per game (last as well). Long-term injuries (Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova), a lack of size (Jon Brockman, Luc Mbah a Moute), and inexperience (Larry Sanders) did play a part in underwhelming production from the four spot. None of that has seemingly prevented Hammond and Skiles from try, trying again.
Including incoming rookies Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer and leaving out Mbah a Moute (a restricted free agent), the Bucks will again have five potential power forwards on their 2011-12 roster. Drew Gooden is once again expected to be a starter, and is the truest power forward in a group of specialized and/or still-developing bigs.
Given the rash of uncontrollable injuries that spread like a bubonic plague amongst Bucks players last season, it’s understandable to assume the injured players will bounce back and the game will start slowing down for the young guns. However, Milwaukee has just two pure wings (Stephen Jackson, Carlos Delfino), and the current oversaturation at the four spot creates the impression that Hammond could dangle at least one of them as trade bait.
Brandon Jennings, Beno Udrih, Shaun Livingston, and Keyon Dooling are all capable of sharing the court at times, and could do so quite often in 2011-12. But having just two wings is never preferential for any NBA team, and neither Jackson or Delfino can shoulder playing time like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Dwyane Wade.
Based on his age and versatility, Ersan Ilyasova seems like the most logical choice for the trading block, and ideally Keyon Dooling would be included in any deal because he’s simply not as useful as the three players ahead of him at the point. That probably seems as encouraging as the latest lockout developments but if John Hammond could dump John Salmons and Corey Maggette, he can surely swing a deal for another capable shooting guard or small forward with a few existing and expendable pieces.