In this three-part series, Behind the Buck Pass contributor Paul DeBruine examines the best and worst-case scenarios for each of the Bucks’ position groups. Paul is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and can be found on Twitter @pdebruine.
Part III – Centers and Others
Sanders models his game after Tyson Chandler and the results are extremely positive. On the offensive end, he takes 90% or more of his shots within five feet of basket, which leads to more efficient scoring. He becomes a force in the pick-and-roll, knowing just when to dart to the hoop and opening up more space for the guard using the pick. Also, he starts making 60% or more of his free throws, allowing him to play late-game minutes without the risk of teams automatically fouling him. Sanders is able to dominate on the defensive end, ultimately winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. He not only protects the rim well, leading the league in blocks, but is also able to stay in front of quicker forwards out on the perimeter, using his positioning to force bad shots.
Sanders doesn’t progress on offense, failing to add a jump shot to his game and continuing to struggle outside of the restricted area. His free throw shooting also remains poor which limits the amount of minutes he is able to play. He takes over the Rasheed Wallace Memorial Award, earning more technicals than any other player in the NBA and creating more (somewhat awesome) scenes like this. He’s ultimately a good-yet-not-great player due to his offensive flaws.
Pachulia serves as a solid option off the bench as a backup center for the Bucks. He brings a good rebounding presence (both offensively and defensively), which helps free up guards to get out on the fast break. His familiarity with Larry Drew eases the transition to a new team and the Bucks reach a Game 7 in the playoffs so we can watch this over and over again.
The Achilles injury and subsequent surgery limit Pachulia’s usefulness during the season. He is an unproductive player, but due to the familiarity with Larry Drew, he receives over 25 minutes per game. This lack of productivity coupled with taking away developmental minutes from players like John Henson and Epke Udoh ultimately make him a detriment to the team.
Miroslav Raduljica/Nate Wolters:
There isn’t much hope for Raduljica or Wolters to play this season. The best case for each player is probably a worst case for the team; injuries pile up and either Raduljica or Wolters is forced to play spot duty.
Neither player sees any court time this season. Wolters is possibly sent to the D-League for a 10-day stint during a long road trip to gain some experience.
Caron Butler (acquired after forwards edition was published):
Butler is able to play the same role for the Bucks as he did for the Clippers last season: starting every game he plays in. He is an adequate spot up shooter, adding yet another player to the Bucks roster who shoots around 39% from 3-point range. He’s a willing defender for the team, despite declining with age, but still presents a better option on that side of the ball than Carlos Delfino. The two-time All-Star mentors both Antetokounmpo and Middleton, showing them how to play the small forward position effectively in the NBA.
Butler is relied on far too much as a creator for the Bucks offense and essentially turns into 2010-11 Corey Maggette. He becomes somewhat of a ball-stopper on offense, settling for isolation plays that end up as midrange 2-point shots instead of possible attacks at the rim. On defense, his quickness continues to atrophy and he becomes a liability for the team. By the trade deadline, the Bucks are shopping him in an attempt to dump his salary but have trouble getting anything of value from other teams in the league.