The Bucks currently sit 2 games back of Detroit for the 8th seed in the East, with Fivethirtyeight giving them a 19% chance to make the playoffs. The Bucks are playing themselves into a position where they will either have a low end lottery pick (12th-14th) or be roadkill in Lebron James highway to an 8th straight finals. Despite claims of owning the future the Bucks are positioning themselves for a second straight “lost season” where they fail to make the playoffs and also fail to get a truly meaningful draft spot. Herb Kohl would be truly proud of this team. As soon as I think they are about to mail it in they come back with a victory that gives me just the tiniest shred of hope, only to come out with a lackluster effort the following night and get annihilated from three.
A lot of fans are willing to write it off as development, I am not sure we are seeing much progress from people not named Giannis and I think that is the problem. Other fans are willing to write this season off due to injuries. I totally understand those are real issues, this team is young and lost two of their leading scorers for large chunks of the season. What I do not get is why the effort is low and inconsistent, typically young guys are playing hard to prove they belong. The problem with this is this is not what this roster was built to do, you do not spend 130 million dollars on free agents in a development year.
The Bucks management made a handful of win now signings that were never going to be A-level moves. When you commit multiple years at 8 figures to guys who have proven themselves to be NBA players, but not consistent starters (or even rotation players for that matter) you have very little chance at that move being a home run. The odds of a 26, 28, or 31 year old suddenly becoming much better were never great. These are the types of guys you sign to get over the hill, not when you are starting the climb. I even think in theory these guys were good fits, but the pieces they were supposed to fit with still projected to grow
immensely and the fits alongside them would be constantly changing. For example last summer’s outcries for more shooting seemed totally valid, but Giannis and Jabari doubled their total of threes made this year and the need for shooting around them has become less dire.
Plumlee was seemingly signed just to keep him away from other teams in a weird leverage type thing, I think Hammond likely thought he could get an asset in a sign and trade. He was able to get out of this deal long term, which looks like it could be one of the few (non-Giannis) highlights of this Buck’s season.
The problem with Matthew Dellavedova is at his best he is a fringe rotation guy, if he loses any athleticism he is no longer an NBA player. There have been instances this season where quicker guards have torched him. His jump shot is okay, but his release is not quick enough to be a high volume guy, he mainly takes open threes. For a guy who is such a marginal guy (read as: okay at many things, not great at anything) he touches the ball for the Bucks A LOT: he is 4th on the Bucks in touches, but is second in dribbles per touch and seconds per touch. He is last on the Bucks in points per touch at .132 a whole .035 behind second last (Brogdon) and .22 behind first place (Monroe). Now those stats can obviously have noise, Delly is often looking to facilitate not score and he has had a decent passing season. For a primary or secondary ball handler though he lacks athleticism needed to create substantial opportunities. Simply put he needs just about everything going for him to be a solid player and he truly struggles to be much more than that.
Teletovic presents an entirely different problem, he does make everything flow better on offense when he is out there. He gets about as much respect for a shooter (non-Warriors division) as anybody in the league, and even when it is not falling it still has an impact on spacing. That is legitimately all he can do though. He cannot keep anyone in front of him, his dribbling is atrocious, his rebounding is poor for a guy his size, he is not a good passer, and
he struggles to finish if by some miracle he gets near the rim. At 31 it is difficult to see any of this changing either, a team can definitely scheme around some of this and have his shooting help a team. The Bucks are not that team though, the rest of their players are too flawed to conceal Mirza’s flaws. What is also baffling is the multiple DNP-CD’s he has racked up, this roster is terrible why not play the guy you signed to a big money deal some minutes.
In a vacuum neither of these deals seemed terrible, but for this Milwaukee Bucks team they seemed awfully Kohlian. They are great signings for a team that just made the playoffs and has a solid starting five, but needed bench help. The Bucks were nowhere near that though, they have holes up and down the roster and now have little cap space to fix them. On the bright side they have a real shot at the 8th seed this year!! In all seriousness the Bucks have Giannis and that gives the franchise some hope going forward. These deals are not the end of the world, they just top out at C-level moves and for that I would have rather seen the Bucks try some Seth Curry, Yogi Ferrell like guys, this was never our contending year.