In Part I we covered the players 6’9” and taller, this piece will cover the rest of the roster. Well there is no Giannis or overpaid centers in this category, but there were lots of fascinating storylines. We have a rookie of the year candidate, two injured core pieces, and a few interesting signings. Grading is difficult for some of these players, the Bucks guard play has been poor for years basically my entire fandom. We have had some great centers and are seeing forward play that is world class, guards on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Jabari’s grade is the most painful to write, in the first half of the season he looked like Giannis’s only rival for the most improved player award. He was dominating on offense showing an expanded game with some facilitating and better shooting. His defense was better, but still incredibly bad. Then he tore his ACL and the air was sucked out of Bucks fans. It was the same knee that he tore his ACL in two years prior, but with injuries once is a fluke twice becomes a pattern. A once incredibly promising season lost all its momentum and fun.
Middleton in many ways had the inverse season that Parker did, he came back from the hamstring tear the day Parker injured his ACL. Middleton came back and was close to last season’s Middleton after only a few games. He was not as dynamic in the playoffs, but multiple reports indicated that he was dealing with an illness in the latter half of the series. Khris will look to have a big season next year as he has a fully healthy offseason and the Bucks look primed to take another step forward. Khris gets a lot of passes from this grader, but he far and away exceeded most expectations fans had set for him this season. One can only imagine what would have happened if Khris had been healthy all season.
Snell was one of the best parts of this Buck’s season, acquired for the very much out of favor Michael Carter-Williams. Early on in the season, the expectations for Snell were merely exceed what MCW brought which was an awfully low bar. Snell exceeded this by not getting in the way, he would play a simple role: sit in the corner on offense and play good defense. As his shot started to fall more consistently, not only did the Bucks win the trade it became robbery. Snell is the exact type of player you’d want next to Giannis, he manages to never get in the way and contributes efficiently on both ends.
Vaughn was not expected to play much of a role on this team especially after Snell was acquired and quickly leapt him on the depth chart. To everyone’s surprise Vaughn scored 22 in the second of the season, which would end up accounting for 1/7th of his points for the entire regular season. He appeared in only half of the games this season, playing half as many minutes as he did last season. It was a terrible season by just about any standards, while he is still young and has potential, the clock may just be running out on his time with the Bucks. The Bucks have to decide whether or not to pick up his fourth year option this offseason, he will likely need a good training camp to have that option exercised.
Brogdon exceeded just about every expectation that could’ve reasonably been set upon him. The 46th pick in the 2016 NBA draft is one of the three contenders for the Rookie of the Year award. The only one of those contenders who was drafted this past year, Brogdon excelled as he became a starter for a playoff team. He was the first good young guard the Bucks have had in years, he quickly made Dellavedova’s deal and role with the team seem unnecessary. For a rookie to make a guy who played an integral role on a back to back finals squads seem redundant is no small feat. Brogdon set many records for second round rookies, whom for the most part fail to reach Malcolm’s level even in their best years.
Dellavedova was signed for many of the reasons that Teletovic was, but since the Bucks have long lacked depth at the guard position this move seemed a lot more promising. Delly had a down year, but no matter how poorly he played the options behind him were never good enough to remove him from the rotation. The Bucks needed Delly this year, but he had a down year behnd the arc and is so athletically limited elsewhere when his shot doesn’t fall he is a tough guy to watch play.
Gary Payton II
Payton was a late season signing that got a two year deal with the Bucks, with the option to waive the second year. After going undrafted out of Oregon state, Payton played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-league. He is a great athlete and brings a little bit of a different style to the Bucks backcourt. He comes with a defense first reputation, but his role on the Bucks was so limited he didn’t show much of anything in his time here. The only reason he has a good chance to stay on the roster is the extra D-league roster spots. He will have a chance to prove his worth in Summer League and the Preseason, with a good showing he could get a rotation spot. In his limited sample he showed some potential, the sample is too small to get anything truly meaningful from though.
Terry brought a strong veteran presence to the Bucks that they have lacked in recent years. Steve Novak is old and has played in the NBA a while, but he has not reached the highest levels like Terry has. Terry has dueled with Lebron in the NBA finals, including a few standout games propelling the Mavericks to a series win. This was his 18th NBA season, and while he has never been an all-star, he has started 600+ NBA games. That sort of longevity is rare in the NBA and he brought a unique on and off court presence for Milwaukee. His on court impact was limited, but he spaced the floor and helped make sure the young Bucks were in the right position. His off court impact, helped pump the Bucks up each night. I think the JET show was a one season spectacular, but it was fun while it lasted if not overly impactful.