Milwaukee Bucks: How dangerous does Eric Bledsoe make the Bucks?

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 21: (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 21: (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks sent shock waves through the NBA on Tuesday when they traded for star point guard Eric Bledsoe, but does this deal really make them an Eastern Conference contender?

When news broke on Tuesday that the Milwaukee Bucks had made a splash by trading beloved center Greg Monroe and a couple of highly protected draft picks for the Phoenix Suns’ disgruntled star Eric Bledsoe, Bucks fans had plenty of reason to be excited.

Over the course of the offseason, as well as in the first few weeks of the regular season, the Bucks have been linked to multiple trade scenarios. However, many of those scenarios predicted  the Bucks would have to send Phoenix a package that included either Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon or their lengthy young center Thon Maker.

As a result, the Bucks and their general manager Jon Horst drew praise from many for their ability to nab a playmaking star from the Suns without breaking up the young core that already has Milwaukee fans excited about the future.

It’s clear that many are also surprised at how little the Bucks gave up to get a dynamic guard like Bledsoe.

More from Bucks News

The consensus from experts around major NBA outlets and Twitter seems to be that the Bucks were the clear winner of the deal. However, the looming question now is just how good does Bledsoe make the Bucks. This move signifies that while the Bucks were once known for their Own the Future slogan, they are trying to thrive in the present now as well.

Milwaukee gained a versatile guard who can create thanks to this trade, but their cap situation over the next few years just became even more complicated, all while Jabari Parker‘s impending free agency is looming. Making this move signifies that the Bucks are not content with being an Eastern Conference contender in a few years; they want to compete now.

Can the Bucks compete this year?

Jason Kidd has already taken a lot of heat lately, and this trade will put him in a situation that may ultimately decide his fate. The Bucks’ talent level is evident. While they may not be the most talented team in the league or even the East, they are also not a team that should be fighting for a final playoff spot down the stretch in a weak Eastern Conference.

The trade for Bledsoe should give the Bucks all the pieces they need to at least be a threat to the Cavaliers and Celtics in the East. How well Bledsoe meshes with his teammates, as well as how Jason Kidd adapts the Bucks style to fit not only Bledsoe but many other shifting dynamics such as the loss of Monroe’s post game, the return of Jabari Parker, and teams adjusting their defense to try and limit Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s success will determine how serious of a contender the Bucks will be.

The first domino to fall will be what rotation Kidd decides to go with. Bledsoe will no doubt start, as he is an established star in the league who is one of the very few players in the NBA to average 21 points and six assists last season. The odd man out will probably be either Malcolm Brogdon or Tony Snell.

The likely choice will be to let Malcolm Brogdon lead the second unit while Snell’s role of spacing the floor in the starting unit remains the same. However, Brogdon and Bledsoe both have plenty of length to guard most two guards and will probably see minutes together on a routine basis. While the Bucks have played Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova together in the past, the pairing of Bledsoe and Brogdon will bring an entirely different dynamic to the floor as unlike Dellaledova, Bledsoe can create his own shot.

There are many ways that this trade helps the Bucks, but none of those reasons are more notable than the shot creation Bledsoe provides. Giannis and Khris Middleton were the only two Bucks who could create their own opportunities consistently, and Brogdon has shown flashes. The lack of more playmakers on the roster has led to the Bucks having a -15.8 net rating per 100 possesions with Giannis off the floor and a -22.2 with Khris on the bench.

Bledsoe changes the dynamic of the Bucks because he has the ability to get 20 points on any given night. The Kentucky product’s scoring ability will take pressure off of Giannis to score 30 a night from mostly iso post-ups. It also allows Khris to be a third scoring option and focus more on all of the little things he does so well instead of having so much pressure to score.

The Bledsoe effect doesn’t just help the stars, though. Before the trade Giannis was probably the only Buck that teams would be willing to leave Tony Snell or Mirza Teletovic for in order to stop penetration. Now the Bucks have two players who demand a defense’s attention off the dribble. This should open up the perimeter for Bucks’ role players even more.

Imagine a pick-and-roll between Bledsoe and Antetokounmpo where the defense has to choose to do one of the following: give Bledsoe the open pull-up jumper, allow Giannis to get the ball rolling toward the basket with momentum, or leave Tony Snell open in the corner. These are visions that if brought to fruition could give opposing teams fits.

Make no mistake about it, the Bucks still have flaws and concerns. The departure of Monroe means that the center position will be the responsibility of the lean tandem of Thon Maker and John Henson. Anyone who has watched Bucks games of late can quickly see that the Bucks have struggled to rebound no matter which center was in the game. Milwaukee’s defense has also been atrocious and was at its worst on Tuesday night when the Bucks’ defensive rating was a 128.1, their highest of the season.

The Bucks currently sit at 4-6 and are already 4.5 games back of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. Eric Bledsoe does not fix all of their issues. He does, however, signal to the rest of the Eastern Conference that the Bucks believe, despite their slow start, that they needed just one more piece to the puzzle to contend.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks: Grades and reactions for the Eric Bledsoe trade

The Bucks got the attention of the NBA on Tuesday. They received rave reviews for the trade all day long, but later that night they lost to LeBron James and the defending Conference champs. Winning trades is fun, but for the Bucks the hard part starts now. It’s time to start winning games.