Milwaukee Bucks: Better rumored target, Austin Rivers or Isaiah Thomas?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 26 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 26 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Pat Connaughton, Houston Rockets: Austin Rivers
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MARCH 26 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The verdict on whether the Milwaukee Bucks should target Isaiah Thomas or Austin Rivers

All things considered, the Bucks should prioritize Rivers over Thomas if they are stuck on the fence between the two.

Despite a small sample size of just 21 games this season, what Rivers brings to the table is relatively clear. The 28-year-old can be an immediately impactful addition off the bench, capable of scoring in bursts and taking on some ball-handling duties. While his numbers this season are not the most captivating on paper, Rivers would be a great piece to bring into the fold to allow starting guard Jrue Holiday to take five as the point guard on the floor.

With Thomas, what he is at this stage in his career is entirely up in the air. The upside is there, but for a team like Milwaukee that needs certainty in piecing together this roster, the guard provides a major risk a year removed from his most recent NBA action. Health concerns aside, a big reason why the D.J. Augustin experiment did not work in Milwaukee was that the guard was undersized, as Thomas is.

At 5’11,” Augustin often found himself an easy target on the defensive end, and it certainly did not help that he could not buy a bucket close to the basket offensively. Standing at 5’9, Thomas poses the same predicament by being categorized as a liability on defense throughout his career.

While Rivers will not receive praise for his efforts on the defensive end anytime soon, he is adequate on that side of things. At 6’4, he is better suited to hold his own when he finds himself in open water defensively, which should be considered since the defense has been among the weak points for the Bucks this season.

If the front office is indeed sold on Rivers, they will have two clear paths to signing him. The first would be using their recently acquired trade exception worth $4.8 million to absorb the guard and his $3.5 million this salary for this season. With the final two years on that deal non-guaranteed, there would be minimal risk in such a deal unless the Bucks wanted to keep their options open with that exception down the road.

In that scenario, they could certainly look to snag him off the buyout market, which seems to be where this is headed. The team currently has two available roster spots, and Rivers would certainly be worthy of one as the team looks to fill out their guard depth before the playoffs.

Next. 3 buyout targets for Bucks to monitor nearing trade deadline. dark

Nothing against Isaiah Thomas, but Austin Rivers is the better fit for this Milwaukee team at this point. It should be an interesting next few days for the Bucks as the trade deadline and ensuing buyout market inch closer with their interest lingering.