Just one year ago, the Bucks big man rotation seemed set for the future following the respective signing and extension of Greg Monroe and John Henson during the offseason. Monroe was meant to provide a much-needed offensive boost while Henson’s defensive skill-set figured to play a significant situational role.
However, just one year later, the Bucks’ center position is a hub of chaos, with Monroe, Henson, and former benchwarmer Miles Plumlee combining to earn $42 million this season.
Obviously this isn’t an ideal situation to find oneself in, but the best way to reverse the effects of the logjam created is to find the best configuration for the players at this position.
It may go without saying, but truly, the best way to “solve” the Bucks’ center position would most likely be a trade of Monroe, opening up space for both Plumlee and Henson to soak up minutes and possibly acquiring future assets. Sure, this move would leave the Bucks without a traditional post scorer, but the direction of the modern NBA may mean that this isn’t such a big deal.
However, the Bucks have presumably been shopping Monroe since before last year’s trade deadline, and the fact that a deal has still not yet been made tells us that the market for traditional post-scoring centers may be barren.
If we accept that Monroe must remain with the team for at least the next season, the best scenario for the Bucks is likely, as we’ve broken down, to start Plumlee and bring in Monroe off the bench as a scoring spark.
Even in this case, John Henson’s opportunities are being marginalized, which further underscores the problematic nature of the Bucks’ center position.
Plumlee was brought in to run the pick and roll, specifically with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and maximizing their minutes together is the most obvious way to improve the Bucks’ offense. Also, while not a great defender, Plumlee’s elements of verticality and energy do more on the point-preventing end than the ground-bound defense of Monroe.
Should Monroe start, the Bucks are entering dangerous territory; neither Plumlee nor Henson would be receiving playing time in accordance with their salary, and this would likely necessitate less opportunity for Point Giannis to work his magic (more on that later). All three of the Bucks’ centers are skilled in their own right, and the responsibility of maximizing production is one that will rest on the shoulders of the coaching staff.
Best Case: Plumlee starts, Monroe scores off the bench, Henson used situationally
Worst Case: Monroe starts, offense is cluttered, defense struggles, neither Henson nor Plumlee merit their contracts
Next: Point Giannis