Milwaukee Bucks: The future is now with Parker and Antetokounmpo on board

Milwaukee Bucks fans should not just be excited that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker are on the team now, but that they could stay on the team for a long time.
Milwaukee is not the most desirable city to play basketball, but Antetokounmpo and Parker have both expressed their feelings in sticking with the Bucks.
I’ll never leave the team and the city of Milwaukee till we build the team to a championship level team..
— GiannisAntetokounmpo (@G_ante34) July 17, 2014

In the world of sports today, it is common to see players of all caliber switching teams over the course of their careers. Antetokounmpo said that he will commit himself to improving the Bucks, which could certainly be a long and stressful process. This kind of commitment is not seen often in today’s sports, so having one of the Bucks’ young potential stars say this is a great thing for Bucks fans.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks had the 1st and 2nd picks respectively of the 2014 NBA draft. With the injury to Joel E

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Larry Sanders’ Road to Redemption Critical to Milwaukee Bucks’ Turnaround

For Milwaukee Bucks big man Larry Sanders, his ascension among the NBA‘s best centers and defensive players came as rapidly as his fall from grace last season.

After locking into a four-year extension worth $44 million following a brilliant breakout season in 2012-13, Sanders probably had the worst year he was capable of having.

While we’ve seen players struggle to perform in “contract years,” there was so much more that went into last year’s troubles for Sanders.

Ben Leibowitz of Bleacher Report breaks it all down:

His involvements in a bar fight after just three regular-season games resulted in surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament—which kept him out for more than a month. …

He then underwent surgery to repair fractures to his right orbital bone in February, which he sustained against the Houston Rockets on Feb. 8, per NBA.com. He hasn’t been back in the rotation since—missing 25 straight games.

The five-game drug suspension is essentially the exclamation point on a lost season for Sanders. He was meant to move forward as the team’s up-and-coming leader and alpha dog, but injuries and off-court incidents have derailed his promising career.

Instead of expanding on his skills and continuing to be a strong defensive presence in the middle for the Bucks, Sanders raised questions about whether he has a place in Milwaukee’s future at all. Can he be depended on? What kind of impact will he have on his teammates?

Now on a big contract, Sanders wouldn’t be nearly as easy to move in a trade as before if Milwaukee decided that he was no longer providing a positive impact.

While there will likely always be someone willing to buy low on a game-changing talent like Sanders, the Bucks are sort of tied to him at this point until his stock can improve.

Here’s what Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times wrote earlier this offseason:

Still another Bucks player who could be wearing a new uniform next season is beleaguered center Larry Sanders, who has been saddled by a spate of off-court issues.

Sanders will be entering the first of a fully-guaranteed four-year, $44 million contract next season, making him virtually untradeable.

However, some team may be enticed to take on Sanders’ issues and hefty contract if perhaps Ilyasova, Henson or Knight was part of a trade package.

Obviously, it’s probably not worth it at this stage of Milwaukee’s rebuilding process to forfeit an asset and just dump Sanders. Unless he’s truly damaging everything on the court and in the locker room, the Bucks would be better off stomaching his presence until a better offer comes in.

With that said, the fresh start this year could do both sides a lot of good.

Milwaukee is turning the page as a franchise with new owners and a new head coach in Jason Kidd, so Sanders will be given every opportunity to get back on track.

Here’s what Bucks assistant general manager David Morway told HoopsHype about Sanders’ outlook going forward:

Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Larry is in our future plans. We are hopeful that this year Larry gets back to being the basketball player that he was two years ago. He is a defensive presence and a game changer on the court. So when you have his length along with Giannis, Jabari Parker, John Henson and then Zaza Pachulia, Damien Inglis, who is very long, and if you play Khris Middleton at the two… We are a fairly long team.

The Bucks are wise to keep other frontcourt optionslike John Henson—on the roster, as relying on Sanders for a full slate of productive games might be a little tough to do at this point.

Again, though, for Milwaukee to turn things around and get back in the playoff hunt, it’ll need Sanders at his best. 

Here’s what Sanders told Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last year:

It’s been two opposite sides of the spectrum in a lot of ways. Two extremes. A consistent season would be great. I’ll be better from this. I’ve learned a lot already from this year. I’m going to continue to learn. I hate that this is a negative impact on my fans and my family or the organization.

At least in some ways, it’s good that the bar is so low right now. Sanders just needs to stay out of trouble and stay on the court, which shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Once he’s there, his incredible length and shot-blocking abilities should take care of the resteven if we don’t see him play at his 2012-13 level quite yet.

It’s important for the development of the entire Bucks team to have Sanders playing well.

Jabari Parker needs his rim protection to cover up for his defensive faults, and such a young team needs to establish an identity early on. With Sanders and all that length elsewhere, it can revolve around defense, so long as there’s consistency. That’s the big question right now.

For the Bucks to eventually turn it around and complete their rebuilding process, a lot of it starts with the man in the middle of it all.

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Who Should Be Milwaukee Bucks’ Starting Point Guard Next Season?

With a summer of activity behind them, the Milwaukee Bucks now find themselves with a surplus at the point guard position, which poses a legitimate question: Who should the starter be?

And when one looks at it, that’s not the easiest question to answer.

Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall are the clear front runners, but Nate Wolters put together a solid rookie season, and head coach Jason Kidd experimented with Giannis Antetokounmpo at point during the Las Vegas Summer League.

But with all that said, Knight should hold onto the starting gig for the time being.

Here’s why.

 

Scoring

Despite drafting Jabari Parker, the Bucks will still have a lot of trouble scoring in 2014-15.

Outside of the rookie, Knight is the only consistent scoring option the team has on the roster. 

While some might suggest moving Knight to shooting guard, it’s not fair to him. At least not to begin the season, that is.

The 22-year-old improved across the board a season ago and showed signs of becoming a respectable distributor. 

On a team that had tremendous woes offensively—the Bucks scored just 95.5 points per game and shot 43.8 percent from the floor—Knight still managed to average 4.9 assists. And while that isn’t remarkable, it showed his willingness to distribute, even when much of the burden to score was placed on his shoulders.

In his increased role, Knight showed a much more aggressive nature and didn’t think twice about attacking the rim. In turn, he was able to get to the foul line 4.5 times per game.

There’s no doubt the Bucks need someone to efficiently run their offense, but scoring is more important at this juncture.

Depending on how O.J. Mayo bounces back from his lackluster 2013-14 season, Knight may very well end up playing the 2 at some point, but he has earned every opportunity to prove he is the team’s point guard moving forward.

That, along with Knight’s scoring prowess, is one big reason he is the best option.

 

Leadership

The youngster may still be developing as a point guard, but his leadership skills span well beyond his age.

In fact, as Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin pointed out, Knight is well aware of the improvements he needs to make as both a player and a teammate.

Still, reading quotes like the following one proves that his line of thinking is right where it should be:

‘Going through what we went through this year, as far as lack of respect from officials, teams — who wants to go through that?’ Knight said. ‘I take it as kind of a slap in the face. I think we can use it as motivation. I’ll constantly remind guys of what happened this year. We’re going to get better.’

That’s the kind of attitude the team and organization must have.

There’s no time to sulk in the misery of a dreadful 2014-15 season.

Instead, everyone must come together and realize that what the Bucks are building is a work in progress and won’t change overnight.

It seems as though Knight understands that and has been conveying that attitude to his teammates.

And this isn’t the first time his leadership qualities are emerging.

A few years ago, when both were with the Detroit Pistons, veteran Corey Maggette spoke highly of Knight (per David Mayo of MLive.com):

I consider him the leader…He’s the point guard. He’s the leader of our team. He’s the one who’s going to have the ball in his hands, making the calls, reading defenses, reading offensive plays. He can do that. He has the ability to be the leader on this team.

Clearly those people making the decisions for the Pistons didn’t feel the same way, but after a 2013-14 season that marked Knight’s first major stride, we’re one step closer to saying they were wrong.

Whether or not he continues making progress has yet to be seen. 

However, with his scoring, leadership and respectable defense—not to mention a very good 2013-14—Knight has earned every right to be the starting point guard for the Bucks this coming season.

He’s not the distributor Marshall is and won’t attract the attention Antetokounmpo would playing point, but he is a former top-10 pick who is beginning to come into his own.

And the Bucks must allow him to continue doing that, at least for now.

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After trade, Dudley looks forward to Bucks (Yahoo Sports)

Looking for a fresh start, Jared Dudley couldn’t be happier to have landed with the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee acquired the veteran forward last week from the Los Angeles Clippers, who also gave up a conditional first-round draft pick, in exchange for Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Radulijca, both of whom were waived this week. Dudley is looking to bounce back from a rough season in Los Angeles. ”It was probably the most injury-plagued season I’ve had,” Dudley said Tuesday at the Bucks’ training facility.

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After trade, Dudley looks forward to Bucks

After trade, F Jared Dudley looks forward to role with remodeled Milwaukee Bucks

      
 

 

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Milwaukee Bucks: Why Adding Jared Dudley Could Be Signs of a Bigger Deal to Come

The Milwaukee Bucks have had a newsworthy offseason. And for the first time in more than a decade, it isn’t a negative.

Historically, under the hard-headed leadership of former owner Herb Kohl, the Bucks would hire and fire coaches seemingly each year, re-sign players who were undeserving of the millions thrown at them and destroy any chance at a future with free-agent signings of mid-level players to inflated contracts.

Fortunately, the Bucks seem to be directing themselves away from hapless attempts at being a doormat for the East’s top teams, to a focus on rebuilding the team in three areas: the draft, roster development and a plan for an eventual franchise-altering move to complete the rebuild and begin the era of contention in Brew City.

So let’s take a look at how the Bucks have been doing in those three areas as well as speculate on what is coming next; mainly, why the Jared Dudley signing might not be just another mediocre addition to a team looking to secure the eighth seed in next year’s playoffs.

 

The Draft

The Bucks have successfully utilized the draft over the last few years with great value picks outside the top 10 in John Henson (2012) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013), as well as the highly touted second pick in this year’s draft: Jabari Parker.

 

Roster Development

The Bucks can’t be content with a few solid draft picks; they need to create an environment where the front office, coaches and players challenge each other to construct an environment where everyone is working to improve their craft.

With that said, the new coaching staff headed by Jason Kidd will be responsible for improving the play of the team’s current young assets.

 

The Final Piece to the Rebuilding Puzzle

Some fans might argue that a successful rebuild takes three to five years. And they may back that up by pointing toward new co-owner Marc Lasry’s Twitter proclamation that the plan for the Bucks is to have them ready to compete for a championship in three to five years.

Is that really set in stone?

The key to rebuilding is to do it right, and “right” doesn’t have to take three to five years. It’s naive to think if a potential All-Star-caliber player, at a key position like point guard, is made available to the Bucks, that they would pass because they’d rather reside at the bottom of the league a few more years. 

The Bucks have a young and talented core of Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton, Antetokounmpo, Henson, Parker and Larry Sanders. They also have players with veteran leadership and skill in Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova and Jerryd Bayless.

Furthermore, the Bucks hired a coach who can relate to the roster’s young core, so there is no reason they can’t catalyze the current rebuild with a proven point guard capable of scoring, distributing, defending and rebounding in Eric Bledsoe

Bledsoe has backed himself into a corner in Phoenix, where he has forced the hand of Suns‘ management to begin trade discussions for the disgruntled future star looking for a max-level contract.

Bledsoe is coming off a year where he posted career numbers in points (17.7), assists (5.5) and rebounds (4.7).

He could be a great fit to lead Milwaukee’s young core onto the court this year.

With the addition of Bledsoe, the team would have to open salary space by sending a player like newly acquired Dudley, who spent five years with the Suns and is a fan favorite according to AZ Central’s Paul Coro. He reiterates how beloved Dudley became as a member of the Suns:

(Dudley) became an essential player, popular teammate and a fan favorite over nearly five seasons with the Suns. Dudley even helped the Suns in his departure that benefited him just as much as Phoenix.

So does Dudley to Milwaukee mean more than what it might appear to be on the surface? Could a package centered around contributing players like Ilyasova, O.J. Mayo or Bayless, as well as a Phoenix favorite in Dudley entice the Suns enough to part ways with the talented Bledose?

It most definitely could be. Here’s what Bucks co-owner Wes Edens said to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) back in May when he purchased the team:

It doesn’t happen overnight. You build a very solid foundation and build from there. We want to have a championship-winning basketball team here, and you start with the pieces you’ve got and build around it.   

To echo the sentiment made by Bucks new ownership, a rebuild doesn’t happen overnight. But when you have a solid base of role players, two potential cornerstone pieces acquired in consecutive drafts and the chance at grabbing an All-Star-type player to lead them onto the floor, that’s a shot worth taking.

With the team’s recent moves, current roster makeup, dedicated ownership group and staff and the fans’ interest beginning to peak, the Bucks need to pull the trigger and build this team for the future now.

The city of Milwaukee is ready to begin to “Fear the Deer” again, and the only question is: How long until the rest of the NBA begins to fear these young and talented deer?

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Milwaukee Bucks: Jared Dudley Trade Grade

Milwaukee Bucks: Jared Dudley Trade Grade
By Josh Morgan: VP and Director of Content/Hoopstuff…
Bucks Receive: Jared Dudley, 2017 1st round pick
Clippers Receive: Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Raduljica
With the Clippers looking to cut some salary and Dudley having his worst shooting year of his career last season, it seemed to be only a matter of time and finding a willing partner until he would be traded. LA had hopes of adding another wing or a big in return for Dudley and while they got both here, it is reportedly likely that both players will be released. From the Bucks end of the deal it is nothing franchise altering but with their youth and inexperience not only on the wings but on their roster as a whole I think it is a positive move.
I mentioned that Dudley had the worst shooting season of his career last season but in reality it wasn’t that terrible at 36 percent from beyond the three point line. What made it so disappointing was his track record in Phoenix before coming over t…

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Bucks acquire Jared Dudley from Clippers (Yahoo Sports)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Small forward Jared Dudley is going to the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Clippers trade Jared Dudley to Bucks

Clippers get Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica in return for Dudley

      
 

 

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Jared Dudley Traded to Bucks: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Seeking more depth heading into the season, the Milwaukee Bucks have acquired versatile shooter Jared Dudley from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica, according to Adrian Wojnaroski of Yahoo Sports.   

Marc Stein of ESPN.com adds that the deal includes the Bucks getting a future protected first-round pick from the Clippers, while Los Angeles will get a second-round pick:

The Clippers had a glut of shooters on their roster with Dudley, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford, so it could afford to move one of them in the right deal. 

Dudley was a solid piece for the Clippers last year, starting 43 games and shooting 36 percent from three-point range. However, his 6.9 points per game was his lowest since 2008-09 and his shooting percentage of 43.8 was the worst of his career. 

For the Bucks, a team still trying to build a roster and in need of any depth it can find, acquiring a proven commodity like Dudley and giving up 31-year-old Carlos Delfino, who hasn’t played since the 2012-13 season, and Miroslav Raduljica, who is 26 with just 48 games of experience, makes sense given their future direction. 

The Bucks have a potential superstar in Jabari Parker, the No. 2 pick in June’s draft, but are still finding a direction to take the franchise. Jason Kidd takes over as head coach and is in a good position to work with this group thanks to his work in Brooklyn last year, according to Zach Harper of CBSSports.com:

When things fell apart in the first two months of the season and spilling drinks on the court wasn’t working, Kidd eventually found his sweet spot with that roster. Once Brook Lopezwent down with another foot injury, Kidd went less conventional and more modern with his small ball, interchangeable lineups.

While Kidd won’t be working with anywhere near the talent he had in Brooklyn, his situation is what a lot of coaches dream about. Being able to work with a clean slate is what every coach dreams of, because they can build the roster in their image. 

Dudley may not be a long-term solution since his contract is only guaranteed through the 2014-15 season, but he gives the Bucks someone they can use as a bridge into the future. If his numbers revert back to his career normals, the team can also use him as a trade chip during the year. 

 

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