Up until recently when somebody thought of the Milwaukee Bucks, one word came to mind. Mediocre. After 2001, the 2000s weren’t very kind to the Bucks and their fans. Year after year, the front office would acquire a new player deemed to save the city and make the Bucks competitive. However, far too often these players would fail to live up to expectations. Here is a list of the Top 10 most disappointing Bucks’ players of the 2000s.
When Caron Butler was acquired in a trade by Milwaukee in 2013, fans were ecstatic. Butler was a player who was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin who found tremendous success throughout his career. He even made 2 consecutive All-Star teams with the Wizards at one point. Bucks fans had high expectations for Butler and Butler had high expectations for himself playing in front of his home crowd. Both parties were disappointed considering Butler only played in 34 games for Milwaukee and averaged 11.0 points per game on 38% shooting.
At one point in his career, Jerry Stackhouse was scoring almost 30 points per game for the Detroit Pistons. From 1995-2008, he averaged 18.6 points per game on 41% shooting while making 2 All-Star games. When the Bucks signed Stackhouse mid-season in 2010, they thought they were getting a veteran who could get buckets for them at any time. However, Stackhouse only played in 42 games for the Bucks and averaged 8.5 points per game. The reason Stackhouse doesn’t crack the top-10 for disappointing Bucks’ players of the 2000s is because the Bucks acquired him when he was 35 at the tail end of his career. Nonetheless, he was an exciting acquisition who failed to live up to high scoring expectations.
In the summer of 2013, the Bucks thought they were getting a future star shooting guard when they signed Gary Neal to a 2-year, $6.5 million dollar contract. Gary Neal was coming off three successful seasons with the Spurs and an incredible playoff run where he hit big shot after big shot. The Bucks weren’t so lucky when it came to Neal, after an uninspiring 31 games where he was shooting a career low in FG% at just 39% the Bucks traded him and Luke Ridnour for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. He just wasn’t on the Bucks long enough and didn’t have high enough expectations to crack the top 10.
Drew Gooden wasn’t necessarily bad for the Bucks, he was just hurt. From 2010 through 2013, Gooden played in 107 out of a possible 246 games for Milwaukee, that’s only 43% of the team’s games. During Gooden’s time in the Cream City he averaged 11.3 points per game along with about 6 rebounds, both of these numbers are on par with his career averages. But, for the money (5-years, $32 million) Gooden just wasn’t on the court enough and therefore, he earned a honorable mention for the most disappointing Bucks’ players of the 2000s.
The Top 10
- Andrew Bogut
It pains me to do this, but I had to put Andrew Bogut in the Top-10. In 2005, the Bucks had the 1st overall pick in the draft and selected center, Andrew Bogut. He was picked by Milwaukee over guys like Chris Paul, Lou Williams, and Deron Williams. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Andrew Bogut is 5th All-Time in franchise history when it comes to total rebound. He’s also 3rd All-Time in blocks. How could he possibly be disappointing?” When a player is picked 1st overall, he is expected to change the entire franchise. Yes, Bogut had some of his best seasons of his career in Milwaukee, but he was never somebody the Bucks could build around. During his tenure in Milwaukee, Bogut only played in 71% of his team’s games. Frankly, if Bogut stayed on the court, who knows maybe he could have been someone to build around, but he was constantly injured or playing at 50%. When he was traded to Golden State in 2012 for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown, Milwaukee fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths for what could have been.
- Toni Kukoc
Throughout the 90s, Kukoc was apart of 3 Michael Jordan Bulls teams that won the NBA Championship and for each one of them, Kukoc was a very important piece. For the Bulls he averaged 14.1 points per game, about 4 rebounds and 4 assists. In his prime, Kukoc was regarded as one of the greatest European players of all-time. When the Bucks traded for Kukoc in 2002 and got rid of fan favorite, Glenn Robinson, the Bucks were hoping for Kukoc to return to his former glory. However, that never happened and Kukoc averaged only 7.7 points per game in 4 seasons. With the Bucks, Toni Kukoc recorded career lows in every major statistical category until he retired after the 2005-06 season at the age of 37 before ever proving he could be the player he once was.
- Corey Maggette
A name you’re sure to associate with 2000s basketball, Corey Maggette, was acquired by Milwaukee in a trade that sent Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric to the Golden State Warriors. Before joining the Bucks, Maggette had career averages of 16.6 points per game on 45% shooting. He was known for his ability to knock down shots all over the court as well as make a highlight play to get the crowd on their feet. Maggette only played for the Bucks for one season and it was the most disappointing of his career. He was viewed as one of Milwaukee’s best scorers but only averaged 12.0 points per game that season. Those 12 points were a long ways away from the 22.2 points per game he once scored while with the Clippers. Maggette was supposed to bring a little star power in the small market of Milwaukee but instead he became a dud at the small forward position.
- T.J. Ford
I’m trying to avoid putting highly touted draft picks on this list but I just can’t ignore the disappointment that was T.J. Ford. Before the Zion Williamson hype train, there was the T.J. Ford hype train. Highly regarded as one of the best high school basketball players of all-time because he led his team to a 75-1 record throughout his career, Ford continued to have success in college by winning the player of the year award in 2003. He was drafted 8th overall by Milwaukee but unfortunately, spinal stenosis caused him to play only 51% of his games for Milwaukee where he averaged 10 points per game, 6.5 assists, and 1.3 steals. He was eventually traded to Toronto for Charlie Villanueva where he struggled with injury problems for the rest of his career. T.J. Ford had all the hype and all the tools to be a game changer for Milwaukee but injuries ultimately derailed his time with the Bucks and made fans wish for better.
- Larry Sanders
After 2 full years in the NBA, Larry Sanders bursted onto the scene for the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2012-13 season. He averaged 9.8 points per game, 9.5 rebounds, and a ridiculous 2.8 blocks per game. He had a defensive rating of 99 that year which is a number that prime Dwight Howard would have put up. This breakout season prompted the Bucks to sign Sanders for 4-years, $44 million dollars. After that contract was given, Sanders only played in 50 more games for the Bucks due to injuries, drug suspensions, and mental health issues. His off-court personality resulted in him being waived by the Bucks in 2015. When Sanders first came onto the scene, there were no doubts in anybody’s minds that he could be a dominant defensive center, like Rudy Gobert, for the next 10 years. His downfall was not only disappointing for Bucks’ fans but NBA fans all around the country who were robbed of great basketball.
- O.J. Mayo
Like T.J. Ford, O.J. Mayo was hyped a great deal coming out of high school, probably even more than Ford. He was supposed to be the next great thing, a player who could go toe-to-toe with LeBron James for the rest of their careers. Obviously, it did not pan out this way. Before Milwaukee, Mayo actually had a few very productive seasons for the Grizzlies and Mavericks where he scored 18.5 points per game, 17.5, and 15.3. When the Bucks signed Mayo as a free agent, fans remembered his previous scoring averages and his hype coming out of high school and had high expectations for the 26-year-old O.J. Mayo. However, with Milwaukee he never scored more than 11.7 points per game in a season. The fact that Mayo never became that dominant scorer in his prime that Milwaukee needed wasn’t even the most disappointing time of his tenure with the Bucks. On July 1st, 2016, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for 2-years for violating the league’s anti-drug program.
- Michael Carter-Williams
A former rookie of the year, the point guard of the future, these phrases were used to describe Michael Carter-Williams when the Bucks traded Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to acquire him. At the time, MCW was a 23-year-old point guard with great size and upside. Carter-Williams was a capable point guard who could defend, facilitate, and rebound but his shooting struggles really prevented him from being anything other than a role player for the Bucks. Getting rid of Brandon Knight was huge for the Bucks back in 2015 and MCW was never able to prove why the Bucks targeted him. Williams is just another name on the long list of young players who never panned out for the Bucks.
- J.J. Redick
When the Bucks traded for J.J. Redick in the middle of the 2013 season, they were getting one of the best sharpshooters the NBA has ever seen. At the time, the Bucks were a team teetering around .500 and the front office thought Redick would be the answer to get the team over the hump. They even gave up prized prospect, Tobias Harris, to get J.J. who they knew would most likely be a rental player. Instead of getting a game changer like they thought, the Bucks got a shooting guard who played uninspiring basketball for the rest of the season. For the Bucks Redick shot 31.8% for three which is far below his career average of 41.3% and he only scored 12.3 points per game on 10 shots per game. It later came out after the season and in the future that J.J. never really wanted to play in Milwaukee and he didn’t believe in the system or the city.
- Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker was supposed to be the future of the Milwaukee Bucks. Parker was supposed to be the player that Giannis currently is. Unfortunately, the Jabari train never got rolling while he was in Milwaukee. For 3 of his 4 seasons in the Cream City, Parker was constantly dealing with knee injuries that hindered his unreal athletic ability. Offensively, nobody has ever doubted Parker’s ability to put the ball in the bucket. I mean, he scored 20 points per game one season. Defensively, is the part of his game that has been so bad throughout his career he has been marked unplayable. At one point Jabari even said, “They don’t pay players to play defense.” Now, Parker has just been signed by the Atlanta Hawks (weird, I know) and may struggle to find playing time considering they have multiple young wing players. I really wished it worked out for Jabari, he was supposed to “Own the Future” with Giannis but instead, he will forever be known as a #2 overall pick who never exceeded expectations.
- Gary Payton
It’s not very often that a bonafide Hall of Fame player is considered disappointing in a franchises’ history but that is the case with Gary Payton. Before he even stepped foot in Milwaukee he was already an 8-Time All-Star and the 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year. The Bucks liked Payton so much they traded their then franchise player, Ray Allen, in order to acquire him. With Milwaukee, Payton actually put up good numbers, he averaged 19.6 points per game while shooting 47% from the field. He also added in 7.4 assists per game, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.4 steals. Sadly, Payton only played 28 games in a Bucks’ uniform before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers the next off-season. The Bucks gave up so much to acquire the Hall of Famer and Payton was never able to give an adequate return, therefore, he’s the most disappointing player Milwaukee had during the 2000s.
So, in conclusion, we can all agree the Bucks made some pretty bad choices throughout the 2000s but now we have Giannis and everything is all good and we can forget about those dark days in franchise history.