Milwaukee Bucks: Can playing three centers work?

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 02: Greg Monroe
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 02: Greg Monroe /

So far in the young season Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd has deployed a three-man rotation at Center. Thon Maker, Greg Monroe, and John Henson have all shown that they can contribute in their own way, but are there enough minutes to go around?

The NBA season is still young and the Milwaukee Bucks have only played three games at this point. To overreact about anything, including rotations, would be very premature. However, if there have been any surprises with Jason Kidd’s rotation it is most certainly the center position.

John Henson, who seemed to be buried deep on the bench last year, has seen a respectable amount of minutes in each of the Bucks’ first three games. The 26-year-old has shown good energy during his time on the floor, as well as providing four blocked shots in the season opening win against Boston.

Thon Maker has remained the Bucks’ starter at the center position as he was down the stretch during last season. While Maker has started, he has yet to play 20 minutes in a game this year.

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Maker was in a similar spot in the playoffs last year as Greg Monroe often played more minutes than the Bucks’ lengthy-young center, but it was only a rotation between the two of them. Adding Henson into the mix has limited Maker’s minutes and forced him to spend long stretches on the bench.

Greg Monroe has also been affected by the re-emergence of Henson in the favor of Jason Kidd. Monroe averaged 22.5 minutes last year for the Bucks and after a good year and an even better playoff series, Monroe’s role was thought to be set in stone. But there are only so many minutes in an NBA game, so even Monroe’s minutes have dipped in this young season.

Ahead of the Bucks’ home opener with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kidd explained his three center rotation to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with Henson’s strong preseason and training camp seeming to be a driving factor in his decision.

"“I was going to go with the three centers,” Kidd said. “I think John’s been having a great camp for us. You can’t be penalized, you’ve got to find time for him on the floor. I thought he did a great job in responding yesterday.”"

Again, assessing rotations after only three games is often difficult without having inside information. There are many more reasons why Kidd could have began the year with the three aforementioned centers all seeing significant time too.

Is Kidd trying to save Monroe for the second half of the year? Does the shortened training camp have anything to do with it?

The one thing that is certain is that it will be difficult for Kidd to keep this current rotation as the season goes on. If Monroe’s offensive game does not drop off, his scoring ability is just too useful to the Bucks for the veteran to not get his share of minutes. If Moose’s minutes increase, either Thon or Henson’s minutes will suffer significantly.

Unlike Monroe, both players earn minutes due to their length and defense. Neither have an extremely polished offensive game, but Thon’s age, improving shot, and impressive playoff performance last year had led most to believe he would be an even larger part of the Bucks’ plans this season. Thon’s development could suffer if his minutes regress, but the Bucks will obviously play whoever they believe gives them the best chance to win.

The Bucks are 2-1 coming off a thrilling victory over a good Portland team. Giannis Antetokounmpo played like the MVP of the league for the third game in a row, and Khris Middleton had a nice night after two lackluster performances.

These stories will take the lead, and deservedly so, but the box score will show a smaller story. A story that could end up growing into a large story for the Bucks depending on how Jason Kidd handles it. That story is that Greg Monroe only played eight minutes, Thon Maker only 18 minutes, and for the second time in three games John Henson played the most minutes of the trio.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks: The expectations of embarking on a new frontier

Not for the first time in recent years, the Bucks have plenty of questions at the center position.