Milwaukee Bucks: Predicting Final 15-Man Roster
Predicting the Milwaukee Bucks 15-Man Roster
The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off of a 38-44 season which actually earned them the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Unfortunately, though, the Bucks would've been better off just watching the playoffs from home, as the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat won the series in four games with ease.
Since the quick playoff exit from last season, the Bucks have made significant changes. The Bucks hired a new head coach, let shooting guard Monta Ellis leave via free agency, traded franchise player Brandon Jennings, drafted the most unknown prospect in last summer's NBA Draft and signed a bevy of veteran free agents.
It's unclear whether the Bucks will finish around the 40-win mark or completely stink in the Eastern Conference this season.
The Bucks got a lot younger in the offseason, but with future NBA superstars Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins among other notable prospects in the college ranks likely to bolt for the pros after one year, this would be a good year for the Bucks to tank. The Bucks haven't had a true NBA superstar since Ray Allen (that's right... RAY ALLEN).
With new head coach Larry Drew (pictured above), the Bucks obviously have a clear mindset to return to the postseason. The Bucks, though, are nowhere near being a contender this season and another mediocre season could result in a lost opportunity to draft a franchise player in 2014 to build around.
The NBA, in my opinion, is one of the most predictable leagues in all of professional sports. But who are the 2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks? Click through the slideshow and ask yourself, is this team bad, OK or good enough? You can be the judge.
15. G Nate Wolters
Eventually acquired by the Bucks on draft night after he was originally drafted by Washington Wizards, Wolters will likely make the final cut on this team. The 22-year-old former South Dakota State Jackrabbit may see more time in the D-League than the NBA this season, though.
14. F Khris Middleton
Acquired in the Brandon Jennings trade, Middleton comes over from the Central Division rival Detroit Pistons. The 6-foot-8 forward will probably gain the slight edge over guard Trey McKinney Jones because of his NBA guard-like athleticism and experience. As an added incentive, Middleton is only 22 years old (Jones is 23).
13. C Miroslav Raduljica
Bucks general manager John Hammond (pictured above) signed Raduljica to a two-year contract in the offseason and he should provide some extra beef behind Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia. The Bucks are going to be a much bigger team this season, and the 7-foot Raduljica provides an abundance of girth.
12. F Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Bucks drafted the 18-year-old Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick. The 6-foot-9 Greek youngster has drawn comparisons to NBA superstar Kevin Durant and the Bucks aren't planning on keeping him overseas. The Bucks are taking quite the risk for their future on a kid who doesn't turn 19 until December.
11. C Zaza Pachulia
Pachulia returns to the Bucks after spending the previous eight seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. Pachulia isn't the most polished player, but he is aggressive. His aggressive nature sometimes makes him look like a dirty player among the NBA community, but if the Bucks are going to turn the corner as a franchise, they need a punk like Pachulia who won't take any crap from any opponent.
10. C Ekpe Udoh
It's hard to believe Udoh was once a top-10 draft choice, as he is now serving as a backup frontcourt beast for the Bucks. Udoh is a good rebounder and defender, and a good backup to the Bucks newly-acquainted franchise player.
9. PG Luke Ridnour
Ridnour spent the last three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves and he should provide excellent veteran leadership for the Bucks core group of youngsters. Ridnour is a yearly candidate to win the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award and his services can only help the Young Bucks.
8. G/F Carlos Delfino
Delfino returns to Milwaukee after a one-year hiatus away from the Bucks. Last season as a member of the Houston Rockets, Delfino averaged 10.6 points per game off of the bench. Delfino is currently nursing a foot injury which will keep him out of training camp this month, but it's good to see Carlos Del-three-no return to Milwaukee.
7. G Gary Neal
An unsung hero in last year's NBA Finals, Neal signed a two-year contract with the Bucks after spending his first three NBA seasons with the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs. Neal is a sharp-shooting veteran combo guard who will provide valuable depth for the Bucks off of the bench.
6. F Ersan Ilyasova
The Turkish Tornado is a fan favorite because he can play three of five positions on the floor and he plays with excellent intensity and grace. Ilyasova averaged a career-best 13.1 points per game last season and at only 26 years old, Ilyasova is a youngster who will only get better while providing excellent veteran leadership in Milwaukee.
5. F John Henson
The Bucks 2012 first-round draft pick will likely start more than nine games in 2013-14 and be asked to carry a greater load. Without Jennings and Ellis, it's up to Henson if he wants to become the Bucks' go-to offensive player this season and take a massive step forward in his game.
4. F Caron Butler
Butler, a Milwaukee-area native, enters his 12th NBA season and first with the Bucks. Last season with the Los Angeles Clippers, Butler averaged 10.4 points in just over 24 minutes played per game last season (lowest totals since the 2003-04 season with the Miami Heat, where he averged 9.2 points in 29 minutes per game). Butler will likely be the Bucks' starting small forward, but it'll be interesting to see how much production the Bucks can get out of the 33-year-old veteran.
3. PG Brandon Knight
Knight was the big piece acquired in the Jennings deal with the Pistons in the offseason. At only 21 years old, Knight is a young kid with plenty of room to grow as a natural point guard. Jennings often played too much like a shooting guard, but expect Knight to do a better job than Jennings engineering the Bucks on the offensive end of the floor.
2. G O.J. Mayo
Entering his 6th NBA season, Mayo has plenty of experience to bring to the Bucks. In his career with the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks, the former No. 3 overall draft pick has averaged 15.2 points per game. Mayo also will get to play close to his younger brother Todd, who plays college ball for the Marquette Golden Eagles.
1. C Larry Sanders
Sanders is arguably the NBA's most athletic center with the most upside. Since the Jennings deal, Sanders is now the Bucks franchise player which this team will hopefully continue to build around for the foreseeable future. Only 24 years old, Sanders is already a defensive menace who averaged 9.5 rebound and 2.8 blocks per game last season. If he can get his offensive game together, Sanders could have a breakout season worth seeing.