Last year, the Bucks hallmarked another high notch in the franchise’s history. Giannis Antetokounmpo was an NBA All-Star, was voted onto the All-NBA Second Team, and averaged 22.9 points, corralled 8.8 boards, and dished 5.4 assists per game. Jabari Parker amassed career-highs in every major category, but, unfortunately, the team missed him after he suffered his second ACL tear in the same knee. These two players have been hived off by the team — and rightfully so, given the amount of accolades and statistical achievements they’ve reached — but the reason the Bucks lost to the Raptors in six extends far beyond what Giannis and Jabari did.
Former general manager John Hammond, who bolted to Orlando earlier this year, made it a point in the summer of 2016 to acquire depth. Whether it was in the form of former Cavaliers’ defensive stalwart Matthew Dellavedova, or Mirza Teletovic, who was instrumental for the Suns, playing the stretch four, it was a tad better than what the Deer had in the form of a streaky O.J. Mayo and an oft-injured Jerryd Bayless only a season prior. In hindsight, signing 38-year-old Jason Terry seemed like a bad idea – even midway through the season – but he played meaningful minutes in the elimination game and offered a championship mentality. In conclusion, inconsistency has plagued this team, and the flames of expectation have been fanned in the public setting, yet put out after a gruesome injury or instance of aggravated chemistry.
Over the last 30 days, the organization has taken flyers on a handful of players, extending camp invites to Brandon Rush, Kendall Marshall, Joel Anthony, Gerald Green, and James Young, who has recently been waived. Given what the Bucks have, with one roster spot remaining, let’s see who has the best chance at staying on the team.
Joel Anthony, C
Anthony hasn’t averaged more than 10 minutes per game since 2011, but that doesn’t mean the integral man in the middle from the Miami Heat’s Big Three Era hasn’t proven valuable for a portion of this decade. With his most recent detour lending itself to San Antonio, the former Runnin’ Rebel poured in 7.4 points (on 62.5 percent shooting) and 9.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, all while seeing limited minutes during his time. Defensively, he is more than capable of eating up space in the paint and playing fine interiorly.
If the Bucks didn’t already have three legitimate centers, all of whom are under the age of 28, then Anthony could be considered. However, he lacks the necessary athleticism to keep up with this team, and the team can find vets who have Finals experience elsewhere.
Chance: 5 percent
Gerald Green, SG
Past are the days of Green jumping out of the gym, as the wing has seen his explosiveness slowly fade away. As far as others on this list, Green has played the most games (584, including playoffs), many of which came as a member of the Celtics. Though he may not be a plus-defender, the 6-foot-7 Green still lends a durable presence, veteran leadership, and can be a firecracker – with his ascending three-point stroke – off the bench.
He’s bounced around the league, sure, but he could find himself with a Milwaukee address this season. Bucks’ fans would be grateful.
Chance: 35 percent
Kendall Marshall, PG
After a decorated college career, under the auspices of Roy Williams at the University of North Carolina, Marshall’s trajectory has folded in recent years. During the 2016-17 season, Marshall laced up for the Reno Bighorns of the G-League, and averaged 15.1 points and 9.0 assists in 21 games.
He’s always been a pass-first point guard, one who hardly turns the ball over. With over $9.5 headed in Matthew Dellavedova’s direction the next three seasons, the rapid ascension of Malcolm Brogdon, and Gary Payton II fresh off his impressive Summer League output, it will be mightily difficult for Marshall to earn on spot on this squad.
Chance: 15 percent
Brandon Rush, SF
If the Bucks want to improve from behind the arc, despite the face they finished 10th in percentage, keeping a career 40-percenter, in Rush, would be a nice first step. The former Kansas Jayhawk has nice length, and can be intimidating off the dribble as a result. For his career, Rush has been an average defender, with a –0.1 Defensive Box Plus/Minus. He started 33 of 47 total games in Minnesota last season, proving he’s the type of player who can make spot-starts or be a commodity in heavy rotation. He doesn’t sky for rebounds, nor does he do much passing, but, if the Bucks want any consistent threat from deep, they should page Rush.
Chance: 35 percent
Gary Payton II
Though he isn’t a new presence, as mentioned before, the son of “The Glove,” put on quite the display in the month of July, revealing his active hands on defense, and a cerebral alertness on most possessions. It is not unlikely that Payton finds himself on the Buck’s G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, because I think the team would rather exercise the option of calling him up – so they can secure either Green or Rush – than to lose out on all of their camp invites. In order for this to happen, Payton would have to be waived; clear waivers; then agree to a contract with the Herd.
Knowing he could be in another team’s rotation, the supremely talented Payton might decide to look elsewhere once the preseason concludes.
Chance: 10 percent
No matter what the Bucks do, it’s safe to say at least one of these players will remain with the squad until season’s end. Though they may not be embraced immediately, Rush or Green could be what the team needs to make a deep postseason.