These under the radar free agents could help the Bucks at small forward

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 10 (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 10 (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Pat Connaughton, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Charlotte Hornets: Mason Plumlee, Kelly Oubre, P.J. Washington
Dec 3, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks could look into these pipedream targets

While the Bucks don’t have much flexibility to sign bigger names, it’s still worth pointing out who the best available talent is in this year’s draft class. Here are some of the non-star names every other team will also be gunning for at the small forward position.

Kelly Oubre Jr., whom the Bucks were already interested in signing at one point, is also set to test the markets after arguably his best season as a professional ball player.

There’s no questioning Oubre Jr. could be a good fit for the Milwaukee Bucks. He is a 6-foot-7, 235-pound wing who can play both forward spots. He is a good athlete, a good defender, and a good scorer who can shoot the 3-pointer. Couple that with his good rebounding and passing, and you have the kind of do-everything wing that the Bucks would benefit from.

He’s no elite two-way threat, but his defense is what makes him so enticing. Oubre is a solid on-ball defender who can stay in front of his man and force turnovers. He is also a smart help defender who can rotate to the ball and contest shots. In 2021-22, he averaged 1.8 steals and 3.8 deflections per game. He also ranked in the 91st percentile for steal percentage and the 100th percentile for turnover percentage among wings that year.

T.J. Warren, too, is a talented scorer who might not get as much attention from teams due to his recent injury history. He is a capable shooter from beyond the arc who’s demonstrated an ability to manufacture his own shot off the dribble. Warren is also a pretty stout defender who can guard multiple positions, including small forwards.

Warren had a disappointing 2023 season. He played just four games for Phoenix, averaging just 4.2 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 31.6 percent efficiency from 3-point range. He was also limited by injuries, missing the rest of a season because of a foot injury.

Warren’s season was a far cry from his 2020-21 season when he averaged 19.8 points per game. He’s shown he’s capable of great heights as a scorer when healthy. It is unclear what the future holds for Warren, as many teams will be apprehensive about his injury history. He will need to stay healthy if he wants to return to his fringe-star form from the 2020 bubble.

And perhaps a cheap prove-it deal with Milwaukee would be the place to start.

Dillon Brooks is a proven role player with the size, grit, and bravado the Milwaukee Bucks will need to fill the role of wing defender. Say what you want about him — the man can play defense. Since he’s likely not going to be retained by his current clubs, he could seek out the winning culture that the Bucks could provide with ease.

Standing at 6-foot-6, Brooks can more than hold his own when tasked with defending a variety of positions, including small forwards. He is a good defender on the ball, on top of being a competent help defender. This would be a valuable asset for the Bucks, who struggled to defend against the size and athleticism of Jimmy Butler in the first round of the playoffs.

If you can force yourself to look past his on-court theatrics, you would know that Brooks is a veteran player who has playoff experience — a valuable commodity in today’s league, and one that the Bucks sorely need. Offensively, he’s a career 34.2 percent 3-point shooter who can also drain shots from the mid-range. He is also a generally good, if not average, ball-handler, and he is also a good finisher at the rim.

It’s unlikely the Bucks can scrap together the capital to afford any of these signings, but they could consider playing for a contender like Milwaukee for cheap.