In just his third season, Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders has gone from a little-used reserve to a full-time starter and key component of the team. Without Sanders’ rebounding and shot blocking, the Bucks would be hard pressed to make the playoffs.
Sanders sat the bench behind veterans Drew Gooden and Andrew Bogut for the Bucks during his first two seasons in the NBA, waiting patiently for his opportunity to contribute. The 6’11″ power forward/center was a raw prospect coming out of VCU but he showed enough potential as a prospect for the Bucks to select him 15th overall in the 2010 draft.
Now that he has finally been given the starting role thanks to Bogut’s trade to the Golden State Warriors. Milwaukee knew what they had in Sanders before his breakout season, given that he averaged more than a block a game despite playing limited minutes. Sanders has thrived as the Bucks anchor in the post, averaging 9.6 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks, which ranks second in the league. The most impressive part is, Sanders has accomplished this in just 27.3 minutes per game.
Sanders may still need to refine his post moves and learn to stay out of foul trouble, but his progress from a bench warmer playing less than 15 minutes a game to a premier shot blocker is promising to the Bucks future.
The Bucks has Sanders signed through next season, and if he continues to improve he can expect a big contract extension as shot blockers his caliber are at a premium. Sanders has an opportunity to establish himself as one of the best post presences in the league for years to come.