As Giannis Antetokounmpo has emerged as the Milwaukee Bucks point guard of the future, what offseason moves will the team make to continue the development of the new big three in Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton?
This season has been a disappointment for many Bucks’ fans. The team had made such a leap the season before to be the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, bouncing back from a dismal 15-67 record in 2013-14.
At 26-38 the Bucks are well out of the playoff race this season, but as of late there have been plenty of glimpses of hope for the future. While many of the expectations of this past offseason have not been met, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton have all showed significant signs of improvement.
Antetokounmpo had never recorded a triple-double in his career before February 22. Since then he has had three of them in his last eight games played, and was just one rebound short of having a fourth triple-double against the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his last 10 games overall he has averaged 19.1 points, 7.8 assists and 10.3 rebounds.
Parker has been exceptionally better since the All-Star break as well, continuing to add to his already hefty highlight reel of dunks. He has even began to start knocking down jump shots. In his last 10 games Parker is shooting 50.8 percent from the field while averaging 21.5 points per contest in that span. Zach Lowe of ESPN wrote a piece touching on this duo having success recently, summing up the Bucks potential direction for the rest of this season.
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Middleton has been the most consistent all year, while having the best season of his career so far. He leads the team averaging 18.5 points per game this season, and that includes 21.8 in his last 10. He is shooting 43 percent from the field and he is by far the Bucks best three-point option at 41 percent from deep.
What’s clear about Milwaukee’s future is that those three players will be at the center of it. With the realization of how exactly they fit, that begs a whole host of different questions that will need to be addressed in this offseason though.
Greg Monroe‘s Uncomfortable Fit
It might be unfair to call the signing of Greg Monroe a disaster, but things certainly haven’t turned out like he or the team had hoped. At 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds a game, Monroe has been a great contributor on offense. As he is a lumbering big man, it’s been his lack of defensive skills, and inability to space the floor well with youngsters like Parker and Antetokounmpo that has been the problem.
I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago suggesting that the Bucks should explore the idea once again of swapping Monroe for Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans. Even though searching for a point guard is not a concern any longer, I still like this idea.
There were even some rumors that the Bucks pursued Dwight Howard before the trade deadline in February, but things never materialized because Howard refused to sign an extension past this season, forgoing free agency in the summer. I won’t go into detail as our own Ti Windisch already touched on the subject a little while back.
Although it hasn’t been evident this season with the Houston Rockets, Howard has been known for his prowess on defense in the past. Maybe he liked what he saw when he came to Milwaukee recently in the star potential of young guns Antetokounmpo and Parker. Howard gets to choose where he goes this summer, for a variety of reasons it’s not easy for him to ultimately land in Milwaukee, but the fact that the team at least showed an interest in a center of his profile and style means it will be an interesting story to follow.
Point Guard Conundrum/Injury Woes
What was supposed to be a crowded back court to start the season turned out to be pretty decimated as the Bucks have dealt and continue to deal with injuries to guards.
Greivis Vasquez and O.J. Mayo are both due to be free agents this summer, and both of them have missed a significant amount of games this season. Even though Mayo has been back playing for some time now, he has missed a total of 23 games all season due to a hamstring issue and he is only averaging 7.8 points a game this season.
Vasquez’s absence has been even more noticeable as he has played in only 16 of the possible 64 games this year due to recovering from ankle surgery. While it was once reported that he might return to action by the end of January, he is still in street clothes on the Bucks bench.
While Jerryd Bayless has been solid coming off the bench as of late, he has also missed 23 games this season with different injuries along the way. And just to compound the issue, the latest injury news came out on Monday about Michael Carter-Williams‘ season also ending prematurely due to injury.
The Bucks will have plenty of options to ponder this summer. Should they hang onto any of these four players that all have had some injury concerns now? I can see a couple of them returning, but I doubt all four will be wearing green and cream next season. There is a fifth point guard in the discussion too.
Tyler Ennis hasn’t really gotten the playing time he needs to show what he’s capable of, and maybe that’s for good reason, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucks again try to get Kendall Marshall this summer. Before he got hurt last season, he was playing well with Milwaukee and he could certainly knock shots down from deep.
With the recent developments from the team’s lineup change, the Bucks, once again, have multiple options to explore this summer. As usual, I can’t wait.