In lieu of scrutinizing over summer league performances, I’m going to spotlight seven Milwaukee Bucks role players and describe what they need to do in order for the Bucks to secure a successful 2017-2018 campaign.
Yes, Tony Snell is technically a starter. Still, he plays a very defined and niche part in the Bucks’ scheme. Last season, Snell consistently had the defensive assignment of the opposing team’s best guard or forward. He did a fine job providing adequate resistance, which allowed offensive workhorses Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, as well as the rehabbing Khris Middleton, to take it easier.
This season, however, the skills and builds of the starting lineup can be better optimized if Snell sometimes steps into Middleton’s role as the key space defender. This would allow a 100% healthy Middleton to guard star forwards that have significant size advantages over Snell (Middleton is 6’8” and 234 lb. compared to Snell’s 6’7” and 200 lb. frame). Of course, Snell would have to prove his worth as an off-ball defender by jumping passing lanes, helping on drives, and rotating swiftly. Offensively, more of the same will be a welcome sight from Snell. Keep those threes flying.
It’s too easy to forget how young this kid is. He turns twenty-one in August! With that said, this upcoming season needs to be the Season of Rashad Vaughn. What he needs to do, more than anything else, is take and make threes. Vaughn shot 32.1% from behind the arc last season and 29.3% the season before. That’s just too low for any shooting guard, let alone one that was drafted primarily for his clean stroke. Vaughn desperately needs to shoot and play with the confidence he’s been displaying in the NBA Summer League. Defensively, Vaughn needs to continue holding his own. Thankfully, with Tony Snell, Malcolm Brogdon, Matthew Dellavedova, Sterling Brown, or even Gary Payton II sharing the backcourt with Vaughn, he’ll never be tasked with the most potent guard.
Realistically, Greg Monroe should see a decrease in minutes next season with the rise of Thon Maker and his hopefully bulking body. Despite this drop-off, Monroe’s offensive role needs to remain the same as it was last season. Absolutely shredding backup centers with impeccable footwork and uncanny body control is the Moose’s favorite pastime. This must continue, especially considering the absences of well-known bucket-getter Michael Beasley and the ailing Parker. Further, Monroe should continue building on his defense. If he could become more like the immovable and surprisingly effective defensive presence of Zaza Pachulia on the 2014-2015 Milwaukee Bucks, as well as honing his newfound swiping ability, the team would benefit greatly.
Dellavedova is the most divisive player on the Bucks roster. Some fans like him or don’t like him, but most fans adore him or despise him. To get everyone on his side, Delly needs to bring his iconic grit and grind to every game. This alone won’t do though. Delly also needs to embrace his role as a facilitator and REJECT HIS MISPLACED DESIRE TO DRIBBLE OUT POSSESSIONS. With unbelievable scorers like Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Parker around him, along with younglings that badly need reps, Delly should not be heaving a floater as a final option. It just should not happen. Let me see a D.J. Wilson turnaround fade-away or a deep Vaughn triple instead.
John Henson/Spencer Hawes
One of these two men is going to need to play basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. Face the truth; it’s going to happen, especially if Monroe gets traded. The bottom line is that they need to be net positives neutrals. If the lucky man is John Henson, he needs to muster up his best impression of an elite shot blocker and skilled lefty hook maker. If it’s Spencer Hawes, he needs to drain threes and not be a liability on defense. That’s all we are asking for, so please…
Mirza Teletovic is a simple man. He has the ball and then boom he shoots the ball. The ball goes in sometimes and the ball doesn’t go in sometimes. This, my friends, is a player that understands and performs his role. Never much of a defensive presence, Teletovic merely needs to not be horrible on that side of the ball. Keep doing you, Telly.
The rookie is a rookie, so he doesn’t have to prove anything just yet. It would be sweet, however, if D.J. Wilson is able to fill in for Beasley, to any extent, as the bench’s semi-reliable scorer (no one can ever replace B-Easy though). Respectable defense is also a plus, but definitely not a necessity (not yet, at least) for this twenty-one-year-old.