No. 5 – Meyers Leonard
Competent floor-spacing bigs have been steadily moving towards hot commodity status in the association in recent years. The Bucks already have one such player in Meyers Leonard, who played for the remainder of the season for Milwaukee after he signed a ten-day contract with the team in February.
He was no revelation of any sort, but he proved to be a solid asset for a team lacking frontcourt depth. In his 17 games with the Bucks, Leonard averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. He shot 38.9 percent from 3-point range in the minutes he played. Leonard was a key contributor for the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs, averaging 6.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He shot 40.0 percent from 3-point range.
The Milwaukee Bucks should re-sign Meyers Leonard because he is a good defender and rebounder who can stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting. Though he came from a rather controversial point in his career, Meyers has shown he’s willing to move past that. He was a relatively low-usage but solid-impact player in the Milwaukee Bucks’ recent regular season campaign, which were his first NBA games after his controversy at the NBA bubble.
On paper, Leonard could be seen as Brook Lopez lite. They’re both 7-foot tall centers who are both skilled shooters from beyond the arc and are also both effective rebounders and rim protectors. Like Lopez, he is also a decent-to-good passer, which would help the Bucks move the ball more effectively on offense on handoff actions or running scoring actions out of the post. His stout frame should also allow him to set good screens for his teammates on offense.
However, Leonard does have some weaknesses. He is not as athletic as Lopez, and he can be inconsistent on defense. Additionally, he is not as good of a rebounder as Lopez. He’ll likely be signed to play the same drop coverage role that Lopez does, which may not see as much premium under the defensive system of Adrian Griffin.
For what he brings to the court, Leonard is a good value on the veteran minimum. He is a solid player who can contribute to a winning team, and the Bucks would be wise to consider signing him once more if both sides are amenable to the idea. He’s not going to play 20 minutes a game, but he’ll be a big body to deter shots in the paint and pull other bigs out of the restricted area with his floor-spacing ability.
These are just a few of the many veteran minimum targets that the Milwaukee Bucks could consider in free agency. The Bucks will have to be creative in order to add talent to their roster, but they have a good track record of finding value in the veteran minimum market. If they are able to add one or two of these players, it would give them a much better chance of making a deep run in the playoffs next season.
Teams have always leaned on veteran minimum contracts to help fill roster spots with experienced players who can contribute immediately, provide teams with flexibility (as they are not tied to long-term contracts with these players), and be a cost-effective way to improve a team. None of them are going to provide starter-level production, but the Bucks would be foolish to look for those kinds of contributions in the veteran minimum market after their last experience with washed veterans.
Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis as the offseason chugs on.