With the additions of Shabazz Muhammad and Christian Wood the Bucks have created an internal contest for the 15th roster spot. A spot that a week ago looked destined to be handed to Tyler Zeller, which would allow the Bucks to maintain flexibility as his contract does not become guaranteed until January. None of these players have done great things in their NBA career, but they each have skill sets that could potentially help the Bucks this season. The Bucks are not lacking depth at any position, but through an 82 game season almost everyone on the roster will be used at some point. So which of the Bucks training camp contestants will be on the roster on opening night?
Tyler Zeller, C
Well he is the incumbent, the Bucks signing Brook Lopez is an indicator that the Bucks did not feel good with their previous trio. Zeller is the most established of any of the contestants, but with three other centers already entrenched on the roster, there is a chance he is the odd man out. Zeller appeared in 24 regular season games for the Bucks after being traded here in February. Zeller also played minutes in all 7 games of the Bucks first round series after starting center John Henson got injured. Zeller has a well rounded game with good feel, but lack of great physical tools has kept him from being a consistent rotation guy in the NBA. Even if he is a better NBA player right now than guys like Henson and Maker, those two both have reasons (contract and youth respectively) that they have a good chance to outlast him on the roster.
Odds to be on final roster: 40%
The former McDonalds All-American has had a rough go of it thus far in the NBA. After 4 years in Minnesota he found little in free agency, and returned to Minnesota for a deal close to the minimum. He was bought out on March 1st and agreed to sign with the Bucks. Between the playoffs and regular season,
Muhammad totaled just under 150 minutes with Milwaukee. Muhammad has a reputation as a non-passer and non-defender, neither of which are untrue. What he can do is score, a relic of a different era, he has this sort of bully ball offense where he muscles his way to the basket. There is a chance that a guy like Muhammad can turn into a better piece for a team under better coaching, which Muhammad has gotten very little of in his NBA career. It took Michael Beasley several coaches, multiple years, and a trip to China to figure it out, there is a chance that Shabazz could take a similar route. As a backup small forward he could come in and get buckets without being asked to do much more than he is capable of.
Odds to be on final roster: 30%
The summer league standout is looking to earn a guaranteed NBA spot and prove that he belongs. The big man out of UNLV has dominated against lesser competition in the G-League and Summer League, but based on the fact that neither has gotten him an NBA roster spot, I believe it is fair to say he has something left to prove. He has decent size for the center position standing 6’11” with a 7’2” wingspan, his athleticism is one thing that pops out when you watch the tape of Christian Wood both in Summer League and the G-League. Wood despite his strengths does lack a few of the key features an NBA team would like from the C position in 2018, he does not protect the rim or shoot at an above average level. The signing of Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez seem to have in general made Christian Wood much less valuable to this roster, as it seems like either of them would have to sustain an injury for him to have an outside chance at breaking into the rotation.
Odds to be on final roster: 15%
You might be asking who is random guy? Well let me take you back one year in the past, the Bucks brought in several players to compete for the final roster spot, players like Joel Anthony, Brandon Rush, and Gerald Green. After a handful of preseason contest it seemed clear that Gerald Green would be the man for the Bucks, while he was far from amazing, he looked like an NBA player. Then every one of the “contestants” was cut, and suddenly DeAndre Liggins was on the roster. This year’s crop of players seems to be better than last year’s bunch, but it still would not shock me if the Bucks claimed someone totally off the radar to take the spot.
Odds to be on final roster: 15%