Milwaukee Bucks: How does the loss of Spencer Hawes affect the rotation?

MILWAUKEE, WI - FEBRUARY 13: Spencer Hawes
MILWAUKEE, WI - FEBRUARY 13: Spencer Hawes /

How will the release of Spencer Hawes change Jason Kidd‘s rotation as the Milwaukee Bucks prepare for the 2017-18 season?

Last season, Spencer Hawes appeared in only 19 games for the Milwaukee Bucks for a total of 171 minutes. This season the expectations for Hawes would have been higher. He surpassed John Henson on the depth chart during the late part of the regular season and the playoffs last year, and with a full offseason in Milwaukee, there was a hope of him being a legitimate rotation player this year.

Instead, news broke last week that the Bucks had waived Spencer Hawes using the stretch provision. This should provide an opportunity for many Bucks’ players as Jason Kidd will need to adjust the shape of his rotation.

First and foremost, the release of Hawes is banking on the continued development of Thon Maker. Last season, Thon only averaged 10 minutes per game, this season he reasonably should be able to double that.

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On certain nights, Thon may play even more than that. With Hawes gone, he is the only center on the roster who can stretch the floor with his shot. When the Bucks play a team with large, non-mobile centers, Thon may need to play nearly 30 minutes if the aim is to drag the opponents out of position.

If Thon is not able to increase his minutes threshold significantly, or if injuries hit during the season, the team will need large minutes from Henson. During an 82 game season, teams need at least three centers. After falling out of favor with the coaching staff last season, the Bucks have no other options but to rely on Henson again this year.

With Henson receiving more minutes, and with one less shooter on the roster, Mirza Teletovic will also be asked to increase his production this season. Mirza’s problems have been well documented. However with Jabari Parker out to start the season, if Henson or Greg Monroe plays significant minutes, the team will need shooters to pair next to them.

If the centers on Milwaukee’s roster are not as productive as expected, or if the team experiences a rash of injuries during some point of the season, they may need to experiment with Giannis Antetokounmpo at center. Kidd explored this idea at points last season, however, he has been reluctant to do so consistently.

Despite being 6’11”, Giannis is not a center. Minutes at center can be physically taxing and allowing him to play there for extended periods of time could wear him down. However, if two centers are injured, Giannis will be forced into Milwaukee’s backup center spot for a stretch.

Hawes certainly did not stay in Milwaukee for very long, but he could well be missed next season. His departure may not hurt the Bucks right away, however the impact of a team’s depth is measured over the entire 82 game season. Injuries may prove to make this rotation thin as the season wears on.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks: A farewell to Spencer Hawes

That does not mean this is the wrong decision. The Bucks needed to get under the tax, with Hawes gone, they have now accomplished that goal without losing a major piece. It will ultimately come down to a handful of players to fill the void of Spencer Hawes in the Bucks’ big man rotation, and only time will tell if they can offer the necessary cover.