Central Division Power Rankings: #4 – Bucks

Mar 15, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) gets pressure from Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) and forward Luis Scola (4) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 15, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) gets pressure from Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) and forward Luis Scola (4) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

We continue our in-depth look at every NBA team with an examination of the Milwaukee Bucks’ prospects for 2016-17.

Last Season’s Record: 33-49

Players Added: Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic

Players Lost: Jerryd Bayless, OJ Mayo, Steve Novak, Greivis Vasquez

Rookies: Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker

Coaching Changes: N/A

2016-2017 Record Prediction: 38-44

Team Ratings: 104.3 ORtg (26th in NBA), 108.7 DRtg (23rd in NBA)

The Bucks remain one of the most unpredictable, yet exciting teams in the NBA.

At the centre of the allure and excitement is 21-year old Giannis Antetokounmpo. Since he made the move to point guard last February, Giannis averaged 18.4 points per game (ppg), 8.4 rebounds per game (rpg), and 6.4 assists per game (apg), all while shooting 50% from the field. Jason Kidd has expressed his contentment with the experiment and asserted that Giannis will remain the primary ball handler next season. Standing at 6’11” with a 7’3” wingspan, Giannis is a match-up nightmare. His size allows him to see over the defense and rocket passes to rolling bigs or cutting guards. Remarkably, Giannis has both elite athleticism and coordination for his size. His incredible measurables don’t just come into play as a playmaker, Giannis’ combination of size and athleticism give him the potential to become an elite defender and shot blocker. With Giannis filling the traditional duties of a point guard, it makes sense that the Bucks would sign Dellavedova this offseason.

Solid backup guards

While Delly has shown his playmaking aptitude, his prowess as an off-ball player is what makes him so useful. Frequently, Delly would take on the role of spot-up shooter while LeBron James ran the Cavaliers’ offense. In this role, he shot a scorching 47% from beyond the arc, though for 90% of these threes the nearest defender was 4+ feet away. Delly’s proficiency as a playmaker won’t be neglected, he can serve as a secondary playmaker and even run the Bucks’ bench unit from time to time. Additionally, without having to expend as much effort offensively, his defensive tenacity will be invigorated. Last year’s starting point guard, Michael Carter-Williams, will fit much better in a bench role. Since his poor shooting limits his abilities as an off-ball player, he can instead focus on distributing for the bench unit.

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Greg Monroe – cornerstone…or millstone?

The Bucks did not pull the trigger on any potential Greg Monroe deals this summer and it will come back to bite them this season. Beyond feuding with teammate Khris Middleton, per NBC Sports, Monroe is an unreliable defender. He lacks both the vertical leap and instincts to be a reliable rim protector and it shows in Milwaukee’s 23rd ranked defense. Monroe’s offensive output is reliant on low-post play, where he is adept at scoring and passing out to shooters. While Greg is reliable in the post, he is by no means an ideal first option, ranking in the 60th percentile for post up players. For a stretch of twelve games last season, Coach Kidd opted to start Miles Plumlee over Monroe. In these games, Greg still averaged around 30 minutes per game, and the Bucks posted a 6-6 record. While Plumlee isn’t the rim protector the Bucks seek, he does offer a more versatile offensive game.

Monroe’s frontcourt mate, Jabari Parker, will be entering what is essentially his sophomore season. Fresh off an ACL injury, Jabari struggled defensively throughout last season. He managed to stay in front of his man on only 54.5% of drives, far from his positional average of 70.1%. Jabari’s inexperience and injury recovery indicate that his defensive struggles will lessen over the seasons. Offensively, Parker was one of the premier rim-rockers in the league. He shot 65.7% at the rim, but struggled to score off jump shots, shooting 34% and 26% from midrange and the three point line respectively.  

The final starting spot is filled by under the radar talent Khris Middleton. Despite being the only legitimate shooting threat on the Bucks last season, Middleton still managed to shoot 39.6% from beyond the arc. He averaged 18.2 ppg and 4.2 apg, filling the secondary playmaking role. Additionally, Middleton thrived as an isolation scorer, where he ranked in the 82nd percentile. However, Khris’ impact was felt beyond his own stats. When he was on the floor the Bucks’ net rating was -0.1, but when he was on the bench this dropped to an astounding -12.6. For contrast, the Bucks’ net rating with Giannis on the floor was -2.6 and was -5.9 with him on the bench.


The Bucks appear to be a high variance team. Their success is so predicated on the development of Middleton, Antetokounmpo, and Parker that it is difficult to predict where they land. However, in an increasingly deep Eastern Conference, the Bucks haven’t done much to ensure their success. The Bucks’ free agent signings, while helpful, are not all that impactful and do not address their defensive issues. For these reasons, the Bucks land at number four in the Central Division.

All stats courtesy of NBA.com and basketball-reference.com.