The Milwaukee Bucks are in a tight spot at the moment. They’ve traded away much of their future picks for aging pieces to help them win now, but they haven’t exactly been doing a lot of winning in the postseason.
Today, the 2021 NBA champions are caught between two converging priorities: remaining competitive while building for the future. The Bucks will always have a chance to win it all for as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the roster, but it’s become abundantly clear as of late that the roster around him might not be up to par anymore with how quickly the league has evolved.
This writer has long been of the opinion that the Bucks need to go all-in on player development for the time being, but it’s not hard to see that the way there is fraught with uncertainty, especially considering they don’t have much youth on the squad these days.
When a team like the Milwaukee Bucks is out of draft capital, it can be difficult to add young talent. The restricted free agent market, particularly cheap, two-way contacts, can provide a way to do this without giving up any assets. This gives contending teams a chance to add young talent without giving up any of their own players or draft picks. Restricted free agency is designed to give teams the opportunity to retain their young players.
Teams in this league are allowed up to two two-way contracts. These contracts allow teams to sign young players who are not yet ready for full-time NBA minutes, but who have the potential to contribute. Two-way players split their time between the NBA team and the team’s G League affiliate. They are paid a salary that is prorated based on how much time they spend in each league.
Contrary to what the minor league’s reputation implies, there are legitimate diamonds in the rough to be found in the G-League. Just look at the team representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals as of this writing. The Bucks should be looking at unproven players to take up their last slot. Here are a few two-way contract targets the Bucks might consider, given their needs at the moment.
No. 1 – Terry Taylor
Terry Taylor went undrafted in the 2021 NBA draft and eventually signed with the Indiana Pacers on a two-way contract until he was waived on October 15. He went on to spend most of this past season in the NBA G League, where he split his time between the Windy City Bulls and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. In eight total appearances, he averaged 19.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and two assists.
Taylor is a versatile player who can play both forward positions, which is certainly impressive, given his size. He is a good rebounder and scorer, and he has shown the ability to defend multiple positions. He is obviously still developing, but more than most other G-League players, he has the potential to be a solid role player in the NBA.
His rebounding numbers are particularly impressive when you consider that he is a 6-foot-4 forward. That certainly speaks to his athleticism, but one area he does need to work on is his floor spacing. He shot a measly 31.3 percent from 3-point land in the G-League.
Actual NBA experience is sparse, but promising. In his seventh NBA game on February 2, Taylor came off the bench to record a career-high 24 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists in 37 minutes for his first career double-double against the Orlando Magic. The Pacers converted his two-way contract into a standard one on April 7, 2022. However, Taylor was waived by the Pacers on February 9.
Taylor would be a good fit for the Milwaukee Bucks. He fits that profile of rugged defenders and gang rebounders that Mike Budenholzer enjoyed using; think somewhere along the lines of Pat Connaughton. Taylor is obviously still developing, but he has the potential to be a solid role player in the NBA.
The Milwaukee Bucks are in need of a backup forward who can provide energy and athleticism off the bench, and though MarJon Beauchamp is the next man up for it, Taylor would be a good fit for that role and add another developmental prospect to this aging team.
Taylor would also help maintain the Milwaukee Bucks’ top notch rebounding. He is a good rebounder for his size, and he would be able to help the Bucks get more second-chance opportunities. He is a hustler who is always looking to make plays, on top of being a relatively decent finisher around the rim who can knock down open shots from the perimeter from time to time.
Taylor is currently unsigned for the future, and it’s clear that Chicago’s roster will more than likely undergo a significant amount of retooling this coming offseason. If there’s an opportunity to pick him up on another two-way contract, perhaps the Milwaukee Bucks could consider the young guard to shore up their youth movement.