Milwaukee Bucks: Jason Terry And The Importance Of Veteran Presence

Nov 29, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jason Terry (31) drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jason Terry (31) drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks have been hell-bent on adding a veteran presence to their roster this summer, with Jason Terry being the latest rumored target.

Some of the free agency signings the Milwaukee Bucks have made this summer are very logical, in terms of adding to what the Bucks want to do on the floor. Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic both fit the bill of what Milwaukee wanted–guys who can shoot, and defend and rebound, respectively.

Some of the players Milwaukee has been linked to without actually signing seem like less logical fits. Dwyane Wade is great, but he can’t shoot very well and he’d take a lot of minutes and touches away from the young Bucks core.

Ray Allen is 41 years old, which would mean were he to average even five points per game he’d be having the best season ever for a guard at 41 or older. The odds were always against him being any sort of productive, should he be signed by an NBA team.

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Finally, the Bucks now seem to be targeting Jason Terry. The Jet might be the best fit out of those three guards, but he’s no spring chicken himself at 38 years of age.

Terry had an okay season last year with the Houston Rockets, averaging 5.9 points per game in 17.5 minutes, but he wasn’t exactly a Sixth Man of the Year contender.

So why are the Bucks rapidly pursuing him? Or Ray Allen or Dwyane Wade, for that matter? Mostly because the biggest thing the Milwaukee Bucks learned from the 2015-16 NBA season is that there’s more to success in the NBA than just basketball.

Casual observers will point to injury problems or poor on-court fit as the problems with the Bucks last season, but those watching more closely noticed that Milwaukee often floated rudderless through tough times. With no one around capable of steering the ship, the Bucks floundered last season.

This hurt both sides of the ball, but especially defensively. The Bucks of 2014-15 had experienced veterans like Jared Dudley, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova playing major minutes, and finished the year fourth in defensive rating.

The 2015-16 Bucks replaced those three with younger players like Greg Monroe and Jabari Parker, and finished 23rd in defensive rating. A full 19 spots worse than the year before, despite Monroe and Parker being objectively better players than any of the veterans that were lost.

Maybe Milwaukee could’ve held on to an okay defense if they only lost one or two of their veterans, but the Bucks ditched all three of them. With no one around to talk on the defensive end or give/take responsibility, Milwaukee allowed plays like this to happen over, and over, and over again.

As soon as Giannis Antetokounmpo loses his man, the Bucks have given up a basket. Two more defenders rotate over immediately, but neither Parker nor Monroe seem to know exactly what they should do in the situation. No one is there to direct them.

On this monstrous dunk by LeBron James, no Buck seems to know what’s going on. Everybody reacts far too quickly to wherever the ball is without actually being able to do anything about it, leaving LeBron wide open to get to the rim.

Afterwards nobody on the Bucks says anything–they just dejectedly trot back on offense. That all has to change for Milwaukee to push for a playoff seed this coming season.

Enter Jason Terry. He’s yet to be officially signed, but if (maybe more like when considering that Marc Stein reported the news) he is he’ll bring a lot of what Milwaukee has lacked since Dudley was dealt to the Washington Wizards last summer.

After the Rockets got blown out by the Denver Nuggets in their first game last year, it wasn’t James Harden or Dwight Howard that addressed the team. It was Jet, according to this piece by Jonathan Feigen.

"Rockets veteran Jason Terry did not wait long to have his voice heard on Thursday, a day after the Rockets blowout loss to open the season. He would not share exactly what he told his teammates in the wake of their blowout loss to the Nuggets, but the message was clear.“I won’t tell you what I told them, but I’ll just sum it up and say ‘fight,’” Terry said, choosing a euphemism appropriate for outside the locker room and practice court. “It wasn’t that word exactly. But ‘fight’ is the key tomorrow night and we’re going to come out very aggressively.”"

That voice is something the Bucks have desperately lacked. Even if Terry can’t bring it on the court like he used to be able to do, his mental game will boost the Bucks.

Terry isn’t just another veteran who has been around the block–he interviewed for a Division I NCAA head coaching job last year, and he’s hosted a radio show on Sirius XM called “The Runway with Jason “The Jet” Terry”.

He knows his stuff. He’s also got a great personality–Terry has gotten two championship trophies tattooed on himself before the regular season began. Before the 2010-11 season, he predicted via ink that his Mavericks would win a title, and they did.

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Before the 2012-13 season, Terry got a Boston Celtics championship tattoo, but they did not win a title. Terry is gutsy, but not dumb–when he joined the Brooklyn Nets he claimed he was getting a Nets tattoo, although evidence of that happening has never actually surfaced.

Maybe Jet will add some Bucks ink to his body before all is said and done. He should at least add some three-pointers to his incredible total of 2,169, third all-time behind Ray Allen and Reggie Miller.

Terry’s career three-point shooting percentage of 37.9 percent will help the Bucks, but his experience and leadership will end up being far more important to the team.

Next: Giannis Antetokounmpo And The Challenges Of Being Unique

Jet plans on playing for two more seasons before jumping to a coaching position. Maybe after teaching the Milwaukee Bucks as a teammate for a while, Terry can jump to the coaching ranks and continue to propel the team forward.