Milwaukee Bucks: Examining the roster heading into preseason

On the eve of this year’s training camp getting underway, the Milwaukee Bucks are prepped for an open competition for their last available roster spot.

While we’re still a few weeks away from the beginning of the regular season, preparations for the year ahead are set to start for the Milwaukee Bucks this week.

After re-signing Jason Terry a little over a week ago, it felt as if the Bucks’ roster was set before the start of training camp, save for the possibility of the team taking flyers on relative unknowns and bringing them into camp like in years past.

Over the past week, that has become the case, but in a much different way as the Bucks have brought in known NBA commodities in Brandon Rush, Kendall Marshall, Gerald Green and most recently, Joel Anthony, all on non-guaranteed deals.

With those moves as well the decisions to waive both Bronson Koenig and JeQuan Lewis, the Bucks’ roster is still a work in progress with training camp set to begin in earnest Tuesday. That has set the stage for what stands to be an intriguing preseason, one with significant stakes set in place.

What’s become clear through the moves made over the last week is that the team may prefer to add more experience to their roster through their last spot available.

That notably leaves Gary Payton II in a precarious position as the team heads into training camp, given the fact that he’s on a non-guaranteed deal. According to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders, the first trigger date for Payton’s salary isn’t until January 1 of next year.

Depending on how committed they are to keeping him with the organization long-term, it’s very possible that the Bucks may have other plans with Payton.

With the Wisconsin Herd’s inaugural season set to tip off in a month and a half as well as having both of their two-way contract spots available, Payton seems like a prime candidate to be awarded one of those slots, barring a big and sudden change. The same likely applies for James Young, who the Bucks also brought in on a training camp deal earlier this month.

For a player of his inexperience on the NBA level and raw ability, that likely serves as the best route for the 24-year-old Payton to gain more time to develop and realize his potential, should that possibility come to fruition (and provided Payton clears waivers as well).

Under this scenario, that leaves the likes of Rush, Marshall and Green in pole position to be awarded the remaining roster spot, considering all three can theoretically fit within the roster (all apologies to Joel “The Warden” Anthony).

Of those three, Green stands as the player who offers the highest risk, highest reward potential. The big red flag attached to Green is that he’s three years removed from his most productive and effective shooting season overall, one where he became a key cog as part of a 48-win Phoenix Suns team back in the 2013-14 season.

Although he has struggled to hit the same form in subsequent stints with the Miami Heat and with the Boston Celtics, Green still possesses the highest amount of flash of the bunch, given his ability to score in bunches off the bench as well as his ridiculous athleticism.

In the case of Rush, he can boost the team’s perimeter shooting further being that he still stands as a very steady three-point specialist at this point in his career. Although he may not be the fleetest of foot at 32 years old, Rush can hold his own on the defensive end of the floor as well.

As for our old friend Marshall, the North Carolina product is looking to make a return to the NBA level after having spent the last season with the Reno Bighorns, the Sacramento Kings’ G League affiliate.

There’s no doubt Marshall can still capture people’s attention with his pure point guard play, but there’s still a question of whether he can play up to the speed that’s prevalent throughout the NBA, especially being almost two years removed from an ACL injury he suffered during his first stint with the Bucks.

The upcoming slate of preseason games should give us a bigger and better indication of who we’ll end up seeing for a longer amount of time in Milwaukee this season. In the meantime, the competition should make for a more exciting training camp than the Bucks have seen for a number of years.

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