Top 5 Players To Watch For The Milwaukee Bucks
5 Milwaukee Bucks Players to Watch in 2013-14
The Milwaukee Bucks lost their two highest scorers this offseason in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Most Bucks fans aren’t too sad about this, however, due to the emergence of two young big men, Larry Sanders and John Henson. While it’ll be hard to make up for Jennings and Ellis’ scoring, their poor defense and awful shot selection won’t be missed.
Joining Sanders and Henson on the Bucks are several new additions. The Bucks added Brandon Knight and OJ Mayo to essentially replace their losses. They also drafted two intriguing players in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nate Wolters. While Knight and Mayo aren’t quite as good individually as Jennings and Ellis, the Bucks’ overall play should remain at about the same level. They may be able to snag a low playoff seed again, but they are not true title contenders. That said, there is plenty for Bucks fans to be excited about. Scott Skiles is no longer coaching and many of the Bucks’ young players have extremely high potential. Their development should be fun to watch and will benefit the franchise.
The five best players to watch on the Bucks aren’t necessarily the best players on the Bucks, but their play is most important to the Bucks' future. The big question is whether the players they have are good enough to build around or whether they should move some of their talent for draft picks or some established talent. The play of these five guys will help make that decision.
5. O.J. Mayo
After lighting it up his rookie year with the Memphis Grizzlies, O.J. Mayo has quieted down significantly. Although he didn’t score as much as he did in his first two seasons, Mayo’s play with the Dallas Mavericks last year was pretty good. He shot above 44 percent from the field for just the second time in his career, and shot over 40 percent from three for the first time ever. He also averaged more than four assists for the first time. Mayo seemed to adjust well to the Mavericks’ style of play, and hopefully he displays the same adaptability in Milwaukee. Watch Mayo for flashes of brilliance that remind us that he was once one of the top prospects in the world and was traded for Kevin Love on draft night. Mayo may never become the superstar people thought he could be, but he may average close to 20 points and four assists as one of the main offensive options for the Bucks.
4. John Henson
John Henson has a 7-foot-6-inch wingspan, and he uses that weapon to his full advantage. Henson didn’t get much playing time last season, but when he was on the court, he was a monster. His per 36 minute stats are All-Star caliber, as he averaged 16.5 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. It’s unlikely Henson will see 36 minutes per game anytime soon, but look for his playing time and his numbers to increase this year. In April of last season, he averaged 21.1 minutes per game and averaged close to a double double. If he gets similar minutes this season, he will be very productive.
3. Ersan Ilyasova
Ersan Ilyasova burst into the basketball spotlight in 2011-12 when he became a fantasy basketball god overnight. Ilyasova posted 20 rebound games, scored like a superstar, drained three pointers, blocked shots, shot well at the line, and Bucks fans were excited for their new Turkish superstar. Last year, however, Ilyasova regressed big time. His play at the beginning of the season was not only disappointing, it was terrible. After Skiles was fired, Ilyasova performed much better and actually ended up posting more points per game than he did the season before. Still, we are left wondering if his amazing play in early 2012 was just a fluke, or whether he can again be a player capable of posting 20 points, 20 rebounds, and three three-pointers in a single night.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo, also known as the “Greek Freak”, is the Bucks’ youngest player at just 18 years old. The Bucks drafted Antetokounmpo with knowledge that he was a raw player unaccustomed to NBA style play. He has shown enormous potential this summer, though, and scouts and fans are excited about his upside. Antetokounmpo’s body is what attracted NBA scouts initially and it’s easy to see why. The 6-foot-9 small forward has a wingspan upwards of 7-feet-2-inches, and his hands are enormous. Many liken his body to Kevin Durant’s, though his skill-set is currently nowhere near as developed. Another intriguing factor to consider is that Antetokounmpo already has several widely used nicknames - the aforementioned “Greek Freak”, “Po" as termed by Jalen Rose on draft night, and "Giannis Alphabet" or "Giannis A-to-Z".
1. Larry Sanders
There wasn’t much for Bucks’ fans to be excited about last year, as the team’s best players turned in disappointing performances, and the Bucks sneaked into the playoffs with a losing record. One of the high points of last year was watching Larry Sanders emerge as an elite defender. After signing a big multi-year contract this summer, Sanders looks to build on his growth from last year and become truly dominant. With a front court of Sanders, John Henson, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks will be one of the longest teams in the league and have the potential to really shut down players at the rim. Watch for Sanders to prove the Bucks’ front office right with some stellar play this year.