After seeing vast improvement, and making the playoffs last season, the Bucks ended the year with a few question marks, but very high expectations. The offseason is still young and they’ve already had great news at all five positions this season.
- The number 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, power forward Jabari Parker, is making a steady recovering from last year’s season ending ACL injury. After somewhat of a slow start to last season, the young forward started to find his grove and was really proving his value to the team. The general consensus was that the 12.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game he was averaging, would make him the easy choice for Rookie of the Year. He is an integral part of this young, athletic team the Bucks are putting together, and his ability to become a leader in the locker room could be a major driving force.
- With Jason Kidd as their Head Coach, point guard is a very important position on this team. That may explain why they were wiling to give up a 1st and 2nd round pick for the 6’6 Greivis Vasquez, who most consider to be a back up on this team. The veteran from Venezuela who has averaged 9.2 ppg and 4.9 apg over his career, seems to be a great fit for the Bucks. He led the league in 2012-2013 with 9 apg, and his 3.79 3 point percentage from last year fills an immediate need for the young Bucks who struggled with shooting last year. He can also play the two, and adds immediate depth and veteran leadership to this team who seems poised to make another playoff run.
- The Bucks may have gotten the steal of this year’s draft, by selecting shooting guard Rashad Vaughn with the 17th overall pick. At just 18 years old he is somewhat raw and projects to be the second youngest player in the league next year. According to experts he is not a project player but could improve his shot selection, passing and defense. Fortunately for him those are all areas where Jason Kidd’s players succeeded last year. The area where this kid doesn’t lack at all is as a scorer and shooter. As a freshman he averaged over 22 ppg game which is something only 29 other players have done in the last 15 years, and shot 38.4 % from beyond the arc. This makes him a wonderful fit for the Bucks who seem to want groom him as a sharp shooter off the bench. Vaugh is used to being one of the top players in his age class, and if he can bring a bit of that swagger to the big leagues, he could be a vital cog in this team moving forward.
- There seemed to be no certainty that the Bucks would resign Khris Middleton, their best player as the season ended last year. However, the young small forward agreed to a 5 year $70 million deal on the opening day of free agency. With that deal, Milwaukee locked up the rising star who started to find his grove after Jabari Parker went down with his injury, and led the team into the playoffs when Brandon Knight was traded at the deadline. Middleton averaged 13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 apg and 1.5 steals per game, but those numbers don’t come close to explaining the impact he had as he took the team on his shoulders at the end of the year. “Money” Middleton has become the guy the team trusts to take the big shot, and should be the cornerstone this young team is built upon.
- Center was the biggest position of need for the Bucks last year. The fans spent the last part of the season fantasizing about what big name would be signed, and management seemed eager to fill the spot with any of the big men available. As things turned out, Greg Monroe seems to be a better fit than anyone could have hoped for as he agreed to terms with Milwaukee on the second day of free agency. Not only does he give the Bucks a huge presence in the post, but he seems to tie together all the loose pieces. He struggles at defense, which is one of the team’s strengths, but brings rebounding and post scoring, which has been a glaring need. He truly could be the missing piece this team needs to be a serious contender.
There is no doubt this team is coming into their own under Jason Kidd. Not only is he extremely adept at teaching the players his schemes, but he has also improved their defense, passing, and overall knowledge of the game, and is displaying genius in building a team around player chemistry and talent. The players he chooses aren’t always pulled from the top of the list, but they are players best suited to his team.
Without seeing this team in live action on the court, it may be too early to get overly excited. However, it’s hard not to be hopeful at the way this is all coming together. My best guess for Milawaukee, after watching the hard work the front office has put in, is that the future is now.