Grading Jon Horst’s moves for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021-22

Mar 16, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Serge Ibaka, Golden State Warriors: Kevon Looney
Mar 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

After their triumphant title-winning campaign last season, many wondered what kind of moves the Milwaukee Bucks would make to put them in the best position to do it again.

Well, general manager Jon Horst was certainly active as he made a surplus of moves throughout the offseason and during the regular season. Several of his moves were great and quickly proved to be significant as they helped the team immediately, while others were questionable decisions that may have hurt the team. With all that being said, let us look through the moves made by the Bucks’ front office over the past year or so and hand out an overall grade for them all.

Grading Jon Horst’s moves for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021-22: The mixed

Most of the Milwaukee Bucks’ moves fall into the good or bad category, but the one transaction that has seemingly divided the fanbase was their trade deadline deal.

The Bucks added Serge Ibaka, cash considerations, and two future second round draft picks in a four-team deal, having sent Donte DiVincenzo to the Sacramento Kings while also sending two veterans in Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye to the LA Clippers. On the surface, it looked like this was a good deal for the Bucks, given how poorly DiVincenzo had played since making his season debut in December following a previous foot procedure. Hood and Ojeyele were also struggling to contribute much in Milwaukee, so moving on from them made sense. It initially seemed like the Bucks were the winners of this trade, but things did not quite go according to plan.

After seeing some solid minutes early on as the backup center behind Bobby Portis, Ibaka was soon kicked out of the rotation once Brook Lopez returned from his lengthy rehab process after undergoing a back procedure early in the season. The Ibaka trade was ultimately nothing more than an insurance move in case Lopez suffered a setback in his rehab, and while adding him for that purpose was not the worst idea, the Bucks should have just kept DeMarcus Cousins if that was the case, as he played a serviceable role early in the year before being waived. There will be more on Cousins and his brief tenure with the Bucks later on.

The controversy surrounding the Ibaka trade was most prominent throughout Milwaukee’s brief playoff run. Ibaka was essentially glued to the bench throughout the team’s 12 playoff contests, having only seen time during mop-up duty. Meanwhile, the Bucks were in need of depth on the wing after Khris Middleton went down with an MCL Sprain in the first round. With Grayson Allen playing like a liability and Wesley Matthews having to take on a more prominent role, the Bucks could have used a player like DiVincenzo, in theory. While his scoring was shakey upon returning from injury in December, perhaps he could have found his footing and provided a boost on that side of the ball to some extent. His defensive presence would have been valuable, given how often players like Grayson Allen and George Hill were targetted on that end against the Boston Celtics. Could DiVincenzo have helped in the series? He likely could have more than Ibaka, who was glued to the bench for essentially all seven games.

Everyone has a different opinion about the trade for Serge Ibaka, and it will remain a mixed bag.