Friday, February 3, 2017

Bucks Trade "Good Man" Miles Plumlee 6 Months After $52M Extension

On July 19, 2016 the Milwaukee Bucks inexplicably signed restricted free agent Miles Plumlee to a fully guaranteed 4 year/$52M contract without an offer from another team and with the Bucks already paying John Henson $12M and Greg Monroe $17M. 



Signing him to that contract was a mistake from the minute it went down.

I discussed this in detail here at "Bucks sign right guy, but wrong price"

On February 2, 2017 the Milwaukee Bucks somehow were able to trade Miles Plumlee and his remaining 3+ years left on his deal for Roy Hibbert (expiring $5M contract), Spencer Hawes ($6M player option), $1.2M trade exception and $700K cash money.

I'm not quite sure how they were able to get out of his deal without dealing assets to make a deal happen. But, with Charlotte currently slipping in the eastern conference standings to the 8th spot with Detroit only a half game back, it's not hard to see why they wanted to make a deal. 

The fact they had no problem taking on that money is Michael Jordan as an owner looking to keep his team in the playoffs and bring a local product back to North Carolina for "fanfare". Charlotte was also the team rumored to be interested in Miles during this past offseason. 



The Bucks currently find themselves below the Hornets in the standings as they've lost 9 of 10 games and currently sit 10th behind Detroit but only a game back from the 8th playoff spot.

The deal was done primarily as a salary dump to free up money as Jabari Parker's extension looms and the Bucks have Restricted Free Agent Tony Snell to retain and perhaps Michael Beasley as well. Hopefully, this time the Bucks let the restricted free agent process play out to see if another team makes an offer to set his market value. The Bucks have made a pattern of (over) paying restricted free agents like Sanders, Henson, Plumlee before another team even makes an offer.

But, the Bucks could give Hibbert and Hawes an opportunity to help the defensive deficient frontcourt with rebounding and shooting. It's also possible they could be traded again or bought out before the deadline. 

Roy Hibbert frustrated Bucks fans for years on the Pacers as he overpowered Bogut, Sanders, Henson and every other big man they tried to throw at him. This year he opened the season to frustrate them again with a 15 point, 10 rebound, 5 block performance vs the Bucks to spoil the home opener in a 107-96 win for the Hornets.  Hibbert then missed the next 5 games with knee soreness and has put up a pedestrian 5 points, 3 rebounds on average over the next two months. Limited by mobility, Hibbert can only be played in certain matchups. But, put him with Thon and Monroe along with Hawes and you have the luxury to deal Henson for a backcourt or wing player to help balance out the roster.



Spencer Hawes, in his 10 year career with the Kings, Sixers, Cavs, Clippers and Hornets  has hit 350 threes out of 1000 attempts which just looked so fresh and so clean I had to type it completely out.

He's an above average passer and can keep the ball moving on offense and find cutting teammates like Giannis and Jabari. As a third or fourth string center, he's more than serviceable and could have a role if he can hit shots. This season for the Hornets he's averaging 7.3pts, 4.2rebs, 1.8ast, but only shooting 29% from three point.

The trade deadline is still 21 days away, but the Bucks kicked things off early and according to numerous reports they will be continuing to look at deals involving likely John Henson. 

One of the players continually linked to the Bucks is Ricky Rubio. The Bucks reportedly turned down Middleton for Rubio last year reported by Zach Lowe. Yesterday, Woelfel was on 105.7FM saying he's heard Bucks have discussed Henson/Delly for Rubio. While, yes, it is Woelfel, Rubio continues to get linked to the Bucks.




Greg Monroe was the one who has had trade rumors attached for awhile, but could be the one they want to keep at this point. He has a player option for $17M, which hopefully the Bucks know what he plans on doing, so they can plan ahead on this heading into the trade deadline. Monroe has been the Bucks most productive center this season and has shown a newfound spryness and defensive tenacity that finds him among the leaders in steals at the center position. 

But, how much of this new found energy is purely due to a contract push and how much is it Monroe dedicating himself to his craft and being more comfortable with his team. This is what Bucks brass must be evaluating heading into this trade deadline.


While Bucks twitter was exuberantly celebrating the trade yesterday (myself included), I stepped back at the end to ponder how much "credit" should the Bucks and John Hammond get for cleaning up their own mess? The Bucks brass looked like they turned the corner in bringing in solid value free agents like Delly and Teletovic, but then for some reason decided they needed to break the bank for Plumlee without even the threat (maybe Charlotte) of an offer for another team?

I'm happy on one hand that bad GM's (cough owners like Jordan) still exist out there in the NBA and I'm happy the Bucks brass Hammond and Zanik were finally able to take advantage of one of them. But the process in which they fill out the roster and spend the salary cap is concerning to say the least. I'd rather a more measured and shrewd approach was applied to free agency as the Bucks are in no hurry with 21 and 22 year old stars in Giannis and Jabari.

Heading into the deadline will be interesting so stay tuned as there is surely.....More To Come....

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ray Allen speaks with Bucks about NBA return

February 20, 2003. A day seared into the minds of long time Bucks fans that will forever be remembered as the worst day in the history of our beloved franchise.

"Ray Allen was nothing but trouble," Karl says. "We had no choice but to get rid of him." 



At the behest of George Karl, Herb Kohl agreed to allow GM Ernie Grunfeld to trade 27 year old Ray Allen in a blockbuster deal with Seattle along with Flip Murray, and a 1st round pick to acquire 35 year old Gary Payton along with slam dunk champion Desmond Mason. 



The Glove and Sam Cassell formed a mercurial backcourt that faced Jason Kidd and the Nets in the playoffs and were eliminated in 6 games. Gary Payton was on an expiring contract and ended up leaving the team to join the Lakers. But, not before angling for a 4yr/$40M contract extension from the Bucks while the Glove said he could convince Karl Malone to the join the Bucks as well.

 "The only people I feel sorry for in this whole situation is the city of Milwaukee, because potentially the team can be moved if the senator sells the team," Allen said, referring to Bucks owner Herb Kohl. "Glenn (Robinson) gets traded, I get traded and Sam gets traded and the team goes downhill."

Ray Allen is a surefire 1st ballot Hall of Famer and currently the best 3 point shooter in NBA history. He has not played since the 2013-2014 season with the Heat which saw him hit one of the most infamous shots in NBA history in Game 6 to win a title with Lebron and Wade. 

Ray recently spoke to Don Amore, at the Hartford Courant and discussed his serious plans to come back to play this season. While he's had standing offers from numerous teams like the Heat and Warriors, Ray indicated he has only spoken to the Bucks and the Celtics about a return for the 2016 NBA season. Ray has been working out and if he's to play, would like to be signed to start the NBA season or he will give up his return.

Allen, 41, the former UConn star who won two championships and was a 10-time NBA All-Star, is gearing up or a comeback after two seasons out of the league. While he is not certain he will suit up again, he made it clear that this is not just idle chatter.

"My decision is predicated on what is available," he said. "I said that I was interested because I never retired for a reason. I've been watching, seeing what teams have been doing and I've been waiting to see if the opportunity presented itself where I think I could fit."

It has been assumed that Allen, who last played for the Heat in 2014, would be most likely to join the champion Cavaliers, reuniting in Cleveland with LeBron James, or the runner-up Warriors, who have added Kevin Durant to the team that went 73-9 in the regular season.

The Spurs and Clippers have been mentioned, also, but Allen said he has spoken with the Celtics, with whom he won a championship in 2008, and the Bucks, his first NBA stop.

"I would love going back to those places if it worked out," Allen said, "because both teams are good, too. It doesn't necessarily have to be championship-or-bust for me to go back to the NBA.



Ray's return to the Bucks has been rumored numerous times. As early as 2005 his return was rumored to be a plan B if the Bucks were unable to keep Michael Redd, but he was ultimately inked to a 6yr/$91M contract. 

In 2014, Jason Kidd reached out to Ray Allen to gauge interest in his return, he eventually turned us down. 



For many younger Bucks fans, Ray Allen's time in Milwaukee and the Bucks Big 3 run with Cassell and Big Dog is nothing but a tale of success of yesteryear. For many fans in my age bracket, Ray Allen represents why we were cemented into such passionate Bucks fans and still are to this day. His trade marked the beginning of the franchise's decline into mediocrity and ultimately years of insignificance. 

I had grown up in the Milwaukee area, but was enrolled at UW-Eau Claire and studying abroad in Scotland to begin the famous 2000-2001 season. In December I moved home, enrolled in UW-Milwaukee and lived in the city for the first time of my life. 

I had always been a Bucks fan, but never had the chance to be only a cab ride away from arena to attend games. Not only was the city electric with excitement over the magical season, but friends would actually have Bucks parties to watch regular season games. Every game was that fun to watch.

Without this perfect timing and being able to experience this firsthand, I'm not sure if I would have stuck with the franchise as long as I have. I've seen the city when basketball is king. On a cold Milwaukee winter night, there's nothing like the warm glow of the basketball court and a full house to provide the energy. 

It's not often in sports that franchises are given an opportunity to right a wrong. Not just any wrong, but the wrong move that disillusioned a significant portion of the fan base and destroyed the season ticket holder base. I have a friend who stopped going to games completely after the trade and returned for the first time only this past season for his first game in over 13 years. He was a season ticket holder second row behind the bench and we enjoyed many games from the best seat in the house. 



Ray Allen was the Bucks last true superstar. Not only that, but he truly loved the City of Milwaukee and was completely heartbroken to be traded. He wanted to be the Bucks Brett Favre. 

"That's what I planned on; that's what I had hoped," Allen said of staying in Milwaukee. "I was looking at building and trying to create something great. I always modeled my career after what Brett Favre did in Green Bay; they won a Super Bowl.

"I didn't feel I needed to be in a big market to achieve greatness or even to win a championship. It was all about trying to create a mentality of having a dynasty here. We started doing that. I think we were one or two players away from doing that."



Ray's practice habits are what kept him in the game much longer than Sam Cassell and Big Dog. At 41 years old, I'm sure he can still plant himself in the corner outside the three point line and be a long range threat. The veteran leadership he can help provide would prove invaluable for Giannis and Jabari Parker. Not only can he impart wisdom on how to shoot at an elite level and maintain the physical shape to succeed in this game, but he can teach them how to represent the city of Milwaukee. A place Ray called home. A place Ray never wanted to leave.

In a time in the NBA when going "home" has become trendy, Lebron to Cleveland, Wade to Chicago, KG to Minnesota, the Bucks have been presented the rarest of opportunities.

Do the right thing Bucks. Bring Ray Allen home. 



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bucks sign right guy, but at wrong price

On Monday, the Milwaukee Bucks and 27 year old restricted free agent Miles Plumlee agreed to terms on a fully guaranteed 4 year/$52M contract (including incentives) to keep the 6'11 Duke product in a Bucks uniform thru the 2020 season.



In a summer free agency period that can best be described as the Wild Wild West, the exploding salary cap has seen NBA players receive sizable raises. Productive big men typically get overpaid in any era. But, still this contract raised some eyebrows.

In the last week plus the free agent frenzy had slowed down. But teams were still finding quality big men at bargain prices. Dewayne Dedmon was the guy I wanted. Spurs inked him for 2yrs/$6M. Festus Ezeli was renounced by the Warriors to make room for Durant and the Blazers scooped him up for 2yrs/$14M. Hibbert signed with Charlotte for 1 year/$5M.

Plumlee was not a part of the regular rotation for the first near 3 months of the season until John Henson went down with a back injury in late January. Miles became the backup center to Greg Monroe and filled in admirably for a couple weeks.

But, the Bucks lost 7 of 8 games nearing the All Star break and Kidd shook up the starting lineup with two games to go, pulling MCW & Monroe and inserting OJ Mayo and Miles Plumlee. The Bucks won those two games vs Boston and Washington giving the newly minted starting lineup, Kidd and his coaching staff all kinds of good feelings going into the All Star break.

This also could have been just a ploy to boost the numbers of OJ Mayo and Miles Plumlee approaching the trade deadline as the Bucks shopped both of them, but found no takers. 

Plumlee continued to start coming out of the break for the next ten games and the Bucks went 4-6 until Greg Monroe was reinserted as a starter. This was likely an attempt to salvage his trade value and/or mend fences going into the offseason in what was then known as a lost season.

As a starter, Plumlee averaged 6.6pts, 5.4rebs, 1.0blk in 20 minutes.

While these numbers look disappointing, the play of the Bucks as a team improved as a whole and the team appeared to gel and look like a cohesive unit for the first time all season. 

Plumlee did the dirty work that Monroe could not, or would not do. Plumlee set the hard screens, rolled to the basket, finished lobs, didn't clog the lane, didn't need the ball to be effective and appeared to let Giannis and Jabari flourish. That's what role players are supposed to do. Play their role, set up the team's stars to be the stars.

It's no secret the Bucks and Greg Monroe appear to be heading towards a split as it's being reported on an almost weekly basis that "The Bucks are still shopping Greg Monroe". Today Marc Stein reiterated the Bucks were making him available right next to trade rumor regular Rudy Gay.

Sam Amico also reported the Spurs may have some interest in Monroe as well. 

So, the Bucks wanted to lock up Plumlee before Monroe gets shipped to ensure a solid center rotation with Miles and Henson left to man the position. But, Plumlee was a restricted free agent. Only 4 teams were left with any real cap space to make a serious offer. David Aldridge sent a tweet that "teams were preparing to clear space to make a run at Plumlee". But we saw no such cap clearing moves. The only conceivable team who would possibly make an offer would be Brooklyn who lost out on Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson.

Much like last summer which saw the Bucks ink restricted free agent Middleton and early extend Henson to deals before they searched and received offer sheets, the Bucks decided they needed to do the same with Plumlee. This would seem to be a good way to do business with your free agents that you want to keep if you are able to negotiate fair market rate values.

Now, I can't tell you I know what went on behind closed doors. Perhaps they did have an offer from Brooklyn that was not public and wanted to negotiate on good terms face-to-face, before doing the Restricted Free Agent dance publicly and formally sign an offer sheet.

The Bucks say they didn't want to let him accept the Qualifying Offer to play the year out and be an Unrestricted Free Agent next summer and then lose him with no recourse. But, at that point, with Plumlee set to be 29 by the time next season starts, it's doubtful teams would be lining up to ink a role playing center who relies on athleticism to a long term deal.

The problem with locking up Plumlee to this size of a contract is it kills flexibility moving forward. Take a look at this projected cap chart provided by the talented crew at BrewHoop. It's important to note the 2017 cap was originally projected to be $107M, but is now projected at $102M.


Even with an MCW trade assumed (not a guarantee) and Monroe opting out assumed (also not a guarantee), the Bucks have locked themselves into this core for the foreseeable future with Giannis and Jabari contracts coming up.

The Bucks are banking on significant improvement from this teams core players, Giannis, Jabari and Middleton and want to surround them with the right role players. This makes sense. But, there's still cost and future flexibility to be factored in. There's still a need to be aware that the Bucks are far from a lock to even be a playoff team this season.  

This team now has expectations. The Bucks have a bad history with meeting expectations. But, it's also been 15 years since they had such a talented core three players to build around. Entering year 3 of new ownership, this team wants to win. I can understand that and respect that. 

It makes sense to lock up role players on a team and core that is experiencing great success, but this was not the case. Plumlee put up middling numbers on a losing team late in the season. Skill wise, he's not far from Dan Gadzuric who the Bucks fatefully inked to a full MLE deal, instead of signing Zaza Pachulia for a more reasonable 4yr/$20M deal. 



 The Bucks front office showed shrewd negotiation skills with the Delly & Telly contracts and they were widely lauded around the association. But for some reason, they were too scared to let Miles go get an offer from another team or play out the year on the Qualifying Offer.

Sometimes, the best contract deal, is the one you don't sign a guy to. 

No organization or general manager is going to make mistake free moves year in and year out. But, for the Bucks to make a run, a serious run, they have to hope they make near mistake free moves on a regular basis. and this has not been the case in the periphery moves.

This is why there is hand wringing from fans who believe the small moves sometimes make the biggest difference. 

Last summer for example, there was a sizeable contingent of talk from Bucks fans that wanted to see them take a low risk chance on Bismack Biyombo instead of sign Henson to a large extension. Toronto took that risk and without Biyombo, they would not have been in the Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto also had the confidence in their management team to let him walk when his payday expectations exceeded his value and they drafted Jakob Poeltl as his replacement.

Expectations for these kind of shrewd moves were raised when the team was bought by hedge fund billionaires who made fortunes on buying low valued assets, flipping them for profits, and knowing when to walk away from a bad deal.

When the Bucks completed a sign & trade for Delly to help Cleveland get a trade exception (Bucks received $250K) and the Bucks sold the #38 pick to the Warriors for $2.4M, I expressed dissatisfaction in these two moves. I was told by some "it's a business and money is good". That cash influx and reasoning looks silly when comparing it to the money that was wasted on Plumlee's extension.

I hate to play the revisionist history game too much. But since Bobby Portis was my guy last summer and reportedly John Hammond's guy, he would've been able to give the Bucks the insurance to let Plumlee walk without ramifications. Portis just led the Bulls SL team to a championship and looks ready for prime time.

Had the Bucks kept the #38 pick and taken Patrick McCaw (Read: Kerr knew nothing about McCaw, Believes he can play as a rookie), we also wouldn't be scrounging the wire talking about the likes of Gerald Green and Kevin Martin or talking ourselves into a Monroe and Rudy Gay swap.

Hopefully, Hammond and Zanik have layed the groundwork to RC Buford that MCW & Monroe are keys to the Spurs beating the Warriors this year and they pull of a stunning deal for Patty Mills and Danny Green, but I won't be holding my breath.

It's hard to fully judge the Plumlee extension until we see the final roster, but right now, I'm stuck feeling like the Bucks got taken to the cleaners.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Giannis & Thanasis enroll in Greece Military Service

On Thursday it was reported in Greek newspaper Naftemporiki that Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo had reported to begin their required military service for Greece. All males 18 and older are required to perform a minimum of 3 months of service, but since Giannis and Thanasis are athletes, they would only be required to serve for a few days.

I tweeted out a picture of Giannis and Thanasis in uniform, which ended up being featured in ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sporting News, Dime Magazine and others.


Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother, Thanasis, started their mandatory three-month Greek military service on Wednesday.
Thanasis is a forward for the D-League Westchester Knicks. Bucks reporter Paul Henning confirmed that the brothers have started their service by tweeting a photo of them in uniform.
On Friday night there were active reports of an attempted coup in Turkey which borders Greece and Greece's military was on ready alert. There have been no updates on Giannis or Thansis situation, but since they are untrained and new arrivals, you'd hope they are in a protective bunker somewhere.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Podcast: I spoke with Bill Michaels on Summer League, Free Agency, Thon Maker, MCW & Monroe trades

I spoke with Bill Michaels at 105.7FM The Fan on Bucks Summer League action, Free Agency, expectations for Thon Maker, and the futures of Michael Carter Williams & Greg Monroe

Listen here


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Two Trades to Finish the Bucks: Monroe & MCW




With the Bucks pursuit of Dwyane Wade over, they can now turn their attention to finish the rest of their roster. The sign and trade of Matthew Dellevedova has been completed. They have signed Mirza Teletovic. Steve Novak has been at the practice facility practicing his jumpers and it's all but a formality that he will be signed as well. Giannis & Greece have been eliminated from their bid for the Olympics and he is expected to sign an extension soon.

The big question remains. 


What do the Bucks do with Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams?

Kidd spoke with Charles Gardner and said

"The best way to put it is to let things settle down, because things were moving fast (in free agency)," Kidd said. "I think everybody thought they were going to wait for (Kevin) Durant, but people started signing on Day 1. It just didn't stop. You've got to take a step back and see what we need."

The Bucks pursued Wade under the assumption Monroe could be unloaded for cap space to sign Wade to a $20M+ contract. This feels like a dangerous assumption to make anymore. Monroe has a limited market and teams are running out of cap space by the day. 

All the while, there still appears to be value on the market for a big man. Unfortunately, for teams that have been rumored to be interested in Monroe in the past. The Blazers signed Festuz Ezeli to a 2yr/$14M contract, while the Hornets signed Roy Hibbert to a 1yr/$5M deal to ease the loss of Al Jefferson. 

Monroe came off the bench after the All Star break and the Bucks defense became passable with Plumlee as a starter. Now, the Bucks are in the unenviable position of being forced to trade a guy the whole league knows you are trying to trade. The Bucks don't want to bring him back as a starter and Monroe is not agreeable to come off the bench in a possible contract year.

It's still possible a deal could be made with Charlotte for oft talked about wing player Jeremy Lamb, whom the Bucks technically traded in the 2012 draft in a pick swap with Houston that netted the Bucks Samuel Dalembert and John Henson with the #14 pick. 

Lamb was just signed to a 3yr/$21M extension at the beginning of last year and proceed to produce like a higher paid player for November and some of December, but trailed off and ended up the season mostly out of the rotation. To make salaries work the Bucks would also need to be willing to absorb Spencer Hawes with 2 yrs/$13M left on his contract. Hawes is no longer the useful player he was in Philadelphia so it'd be dead money at the end of the bench to get Lamb which seems a stiff price to pay. 

With the Bucks jettisoning of Zaza Pachulia and Jared Dudley at the end of the 2014 season, the Bucks went without savvy vets in the 2015 season and it certainly was one of the factors for the drop off in the win column. Ownership has noted the loss of veteran leadership hurt them and perhaps they undervalued the contributions these type of players to the roster. Especially, this Bucks roster which continues to be one of the youngest in the league. 

The Bucks could look to remedy the lack of veteran leadership and defense in the Monroe trade. 



Tyson Chandler signed a 4yr/$48M contract with the Suns last year as a precursor to their pursuit of Lamarcus Aldridge. They didn't get Aldridge and their season was a disaster en route to only 23 win. After the season, Tyson publicly declared he wasn't interested in a long rebuilding project at this point in his career. The 33 year old played 66 games last season averaging 7.2pts/8.7rebs/.7blk in 24mpg and can still anchor a defense. At $12M for the next 3 years, in new NBA money, that is not bad for a starting big man rim protector. Tyson played with Kidd in Dallas and New York and the Bucks were rumored to be very interested in him last summer when he was a free agent. 




The Suns certainly wouldn't want Monroe so they'd have to orchestrate a 3 team deal between the Bucks, Suns and Pelicans that would seem agreeable. The Suns want to get out of his deal and could take on Tyreke Evans 1yr/$10M deal (since they love these type of guards) and Alexis Ajinca. The Pelicans would get Monroe and the Bucks would get Tyson Chandler. With the market for Monroe, him opting out next season isn't a guarantee anymore. Tyson would be the same for 3 years as Monroe would be for 2. 

In terms of veteran leadership, Tyson would be a uniquely important teacher to bring in to help the Bucks corps of wiry big men. Henson, Thon, Giannis, Jabari could use an on court defensive captain to help them to play defense and teach them how to play defense together. Tyson knows especially how to succeed with a rail thin body assigned to defend much bigger players. Imparting his wisdom is something that would pay dividends after he was gone. 

The market for Michael Carter Williams is just as limited as not many teams need a starting point guard in today's point guard heavy NBA. That is to say, if MCW is still viewed as starting material. The Kings appear to be in a need of a starting point guard as they lost Rondo to Chicago while Darren Collision is under investigation for domestic abuse. The Kings have put Koufos, Gay, and Ben McLemore on the market to balance out their roster. 

I think the most likely and available trade for MCW is a swap with the Kings for the 23 year old, 6'5 scoring wing, Ben McLemore from Kansas and Oak Hill Academy. McLemore was being compared to Ray Allen coming out of Kansas with his athleticism and pure jump shooting ability. 



It has failed to translate in the NBA for the Kings, although he's shown flashes, and they appear to be willing to move on after signing Arron Afflalo and drafting Malachi Richardson. Sometimes, a change of pace is all that's need to get a career untracked. McLemore shot 36% from 3pt last year and has the scoring ability and upside of a player the Bucks should take a chance on. 



To finish off the roster, the Bucks could be looking at Tayshaun Prince, a player drafted in part by John Hammond for the Detroit Pistons in 2002 and who helped the Pistons win a championship with their suffocating style of defense. The 36 year old 14 year veteran was on the Timberwolves last season and played 78 games while averaging 19 minutes a night. He put up a paltry 2.9pts/1.9rebs by far the lowest of his career and I wouldn't be signing him to play 19 minutes a night. But, he'd be another solid addition for the end of the bench and practice player to help teach a young team how to play championship level defense. 

Bucks Final Roster would look like
Dellevedova/Ennis/Brogdon
Middleton/McLemore/Vaughn
Giannis/Novak/Tayshaun
Jabari/Mirza/Thon
Tyson/Henson/Plumlee

Thon Maker & Malcom Brogdon Debut


"Thon Maker is everywhere defensively!"

"Thon Maker covered a lot of ground to close out that & block that three"

"Thon Maker with the rejection at the rim!"

Thon Maker made his debut for the Milwaukee Bucks in Las Vegas Summer League team vs the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night and he did not disappoint. In the highest level of competition has he has faced to date he responded with 15 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal on 5-14 FG with 2 turnover's en route to the Bucks 81-75 win.

Summer league is no guarantee of NBA success, but not being able to play in summer league is typically a red flag. Thon not only played well, but he played well defensively when it mattered in the closing minutes getting blocks at the rim and causing a turnover by jumping up and down to shut down an inbounds play.

It was extremely encouraging to see this level of play in Thon's first real game against some NBA players, prospects and D-League players. It was also the first game that many fans saw him play much like Giannis debut. With Jabari, there was a full body of work to look at, it was easy to think he'd be very good. With Thon, there was nothing to go on, so this type of game brought both relief and excitement.  His shooting will need to be worked on, but the form looks good and he looks confident taking them. It's not a stretch to say Thon is a better shooter now than Giannis was coming into the league and possibly still is (0-7 3pt vs Croatia on Friday in Greece loss).

Scoring well in the summer league doesn't necessarily translate to the fall, but rebounding well in summer league has shown to have more of a correlation as a translatable skill when the real games start. Thon was constantly aware of where his man was and consistently put a body on them to box out. Having this ingrained into him already is a sight for sore eyes for a team that hasn't seen a box out since the departure of Zaza Pachulia.

The most encouraging and exhilarating part of Thon's game that he showed off on Friday was his defensive awareness, acumen and athleticism. Early on there were some nerves and he even admitted he had to slow down in the game because practice was actually faster. But the rotations on the defensive end, the timing on the shotblocking and the closeouts on the perimeter show a guy with a tool box full of skills to be a terror defensively. Just imagine once he's paired with Giannis and an NBA roster. The ability to switch and guard guards will be a key factor to Thon excelling in today's NBA and Bucks defensive system.

He's definitely going to have to get a stronger base as he was unable to hold his position in the post defensively numerous times against players much smaller than he is. But, he has the frame, work ethic and the same organization that turned Giannis from a scrawny kid to what he looks like today. Not to mention, he's got Giannis, who has 3 years head start on him to help ease his journey into the NBA with tips and advice to help him along the way.

With Thon's motor, size, skills, work ethic and the organization and training staff, it's hard to imagine Thon completely busting. Thon was sprinting down the court every time in a manner reminiscent of Dan Gadzuric. At the very least, he's going to be a defensive rotation player and possibly much more. I don't want to get ahead of myself after one summer league game, but if I did, I would tell you he's got the potential to be a Kevin Garnett/Serge Ibaka clone who will dominate the future of the NBA.

Fans who have spent the better part of the last two weeks hunting the internet for yearbooks and a guy who knows a guy that heard that Thon is definitely 24 years old and went to high school for 10 years seemed to be pretty invisible after Thon's first game. I'm not going to get into that debate and I'm not going to pretend I know all the answers, but when you look at Thon he looks like a kid. When you look at the videos from 5 years ago, Thon looks like a 14 year scrawny kid. The Bucks have done their research, Thon had his passport and Australian citizenship papers posted on the internet. The debate is over. He's 19 years old, he's a Milwaukee Buck and that's something to get very excited about.

Malcolm Brogdon's play was encouraging as well as the Bucks had him playing what I'll call "lead guard" because he's more than a combo guard, but not quite a point guard. He was bringing the ball up the floor and looked extremely comfortable in a way that Andre Miller does late in his career. Employing the same kind of post ups outside the three point line to protect the ball until he finds the seam to make a play, which also isn't too different than what Sam Cassell did. Kidd provided a typical Kiddism in an interview in which he referred to Brogdon as "some say he's a 2, some say he's a 1, he's just a basketball player"

Rashad Vaughn had a forgettable performance with 4-16 shooting, which I was unaware he had stitches on his hand (because it was on Bucks snapchat and I refuse & am too confused to use Snapchat). But, it's likely to say Brogdon could be a contributor to this years Bucks team while Rashad may be on the outside looking in.

Thon and the Bucks play again today at 3:30pm CST vs NBA D-League Select Team

Jason Kidd said more moves are coming, check back later today where I'll preview how to finish the roster.