Milwaukee’s only two losses this season, against Cleveland and Boston, shows a significant separation between where the Bucks are and where they need to be. In both games, Milwaukee was competitive until the fourth quarter, but to get starters their necessary rest, Coach Kidd tends to take out the unit at the start of the fourth quarter. Since the starters are only in part of the fourth, it makes sense that the Bucks are in the bottom seven in fourth quarter scoring. With an obvious separation of talent between the Bucks and their opponent’s bench in the two losses, the lack of scoring on the bench is a major problem. My question to Bucks management would be, “Do you stick with your original bench rotation because it’s the best chance for them to win, or are you sticking with these players because they are being paid the most?” If it’s the latter of the two, I think you have a philosophy that will keep the team from reaching its full potential. The following is a list of players who could be potentially more impactful if they get more minutes.
Rashad Vaughn can be an immediate impact shooter on a Bucks bench that desperately needs a go to three-point specialist. Vaughn showed versus Atlanta he can get hot quickly, and with confidence, can knock down consecutive threes from any spot on the court. In my opinion, the Bucks coaching staff has mismanaged the growth of Rashad because they didn’t take into account the mental aspect of his growth. Vaughn has been relied on to score at every level he has played at, and when Vaughn has missed a few shots in reserve action over his first three seasons, Coach Kidd has shown there is a short leash on Vaughn when he isn’t making shots. If you look at what Rashad can contribute on the NBA level, he can be similar to J.R. Smith. The shot making ability is there even though you it hasn’t been shown consistently. It’s up to the Bucks coaching staff to realize the untapped potential for Vaughn even though he may force up questionable shots from time-to-time.
John has really come into his own getting a bump in playing time in light of Greg Monroe’s poor showing and injury. The only member of the Bucks to play in the Brandon Jennings era left on the roster, Henson was picked with intent to be the future of Bucks center position. Although Henson showed little signs of improvement early, he has found a niche in the Bucks long and athletic defensive scheme. Whether it has been changing his mentality to sticking within his game, or being more confident in his game, John has played amazing coming off the bench. Henson’s interior defense is elite because of his freakishly long wingspan and defensive positioning when opponents slash to the basket. Not only does Henson’s positioning help out defensively, there is a noticeable difference on the offensive floor when Henson is in the game. He can sit in the short corner and be ready for the dump off from the driving Buck, or step out and hit a 15-foot jump shot. The offensive spacing when Henson is the Center in comparison to Greg Monroe is stunning actually, because for Moose to be productive in his time on the court you need him to score in the low post, which completely stunts the flow of the offense.
Brown fits the glaring hole on the Bucks bench of an effective scorer that doesn’t need other players to create his shots. In his one appearance this season against Cleveland he logged only six minutes, but every time Brown was on the offensive end of the floor, he was aggressive in his cuts off of drives by Delly, and he showed us his ability to create shots with a smooth step back jumper. Defensively he stood out picking up Dwayne Wade at half court every possession, and his activeness led to two Cleveland turnovers on two straight possessions. It is a small sample size, yes, but he showed that he isn’t scared of anyone with his persistence with and without the ball. It isn’t often you see a Bucks Rookie so active in cutting and creating for himself; with past players in their rookie season such as Thon, Giannis, and Vaughn being asked to sit in the corner while the offense is run. I see a lot of Malcolm Brogdon in Brown, both being four-year college players, and showing poise immediately against the top competition.
Although the pick of D.J. Wilson, in my opinion, was based mostly on his potential, there needs to be a confidence instilled within D.J. Wilson. The choice to give Mirza Teletovic the majority of reserve Power Forward minutes in light of Jabari Parker’s injury, is one that is possibly being made based on the size of his contract rather than his potential to help the team win games in the future. D.J. has an interesting skill-set of size and speed as well as a smooth jump shot from medium to long range. The speed of the NBA game could be also a factor in the playing time debate for D.J. Wilson, but I assumed that he would get more minutes just to see what the young man can produce. There is going to be a point where Wilson will get extended playing time this season, and when he does, I believe that he will show that he can make an impact in a reserve role late in the season and the playoffs.