The Bucks have a power forward problem and it needs to be addressed. They simply have too many people that could fill the role.
The Bucks started rookie Jabari Parker at the 4 spot in their first three games, and he’s played a majority of his minutes at that position. In the last two games, veteran Ersan Ilyasova has been the starting power forward, but only played 42 total minutes.
Many predicted a possible breakout season for John Henson this season, yet the 23-year-old, who plays both power forward and center, has seen his playing time nearly cut in half. Henson has gone from 26 minutes per game to just 14 minutes per game, which includes a 21-minute, six-block appearance against the 76ers.
The Bucks also have this long-limbed youngster, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who can play just about any position. This includes power forward, which he manned against the Bulls last night.
As the faces of the franchise, Parker and Antetokounmpo are going to get reps wherever they’re needed and whenever they’re needed, so this problem can really only get worse.
There is not a clear-cut answer here for Jason Kidd, but there is one for John Hammond. The only way to get rid of this logjam at power forward is to make a move involving Henson, Ilyasova or center Zaza Pachulia.
Of the three, Ilyasova might be the most difficult to move. With limited playing time this season and a terrible shooting performance last season to go along with his contract netting him $15.8 million guaranteed through 2015-16, the Bucks may struggle to find a team willing to take on Ilyasova.
The Bucks could find a home for Pachulia, as there are plenty of teams that could use a backup big to add some toughness to their front line, but Pachulia’s $10.4 million in the next two years may scare teams away.
Henson would be the easiest to move. He’s still on his rookie contract, and many believe Henson just needs a bit more playing time to grow into a shot-blocking machine. From the Bucks perspective, however, he’d be the most difficult of the three to trade because of his age and his potential.
Again, this isn’t an easy decision, but moving one of these three players is the only way for any of them to have their most effective seasons. If the Bucks stand pat, each will be underutilized on the Bucks bench.
What to Read
Jason Kidd: “I’ll let them keep talking”: ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk recapped Mikhail Prokhorov’s first public comments since Jason Kidd left Brooklyn for Milwaukee and Kidd’s response to Prokhorov’s comments at the beginning of this week. Youngmisuk mentioned this exchange may make Kidd’s return to Brooklyn on Nov. 19 a bit more interesting.
Buying and selling potential breakouts: Although the focus was fantasy basketball, Joe Polito at CBS Sports writes that he “kinda sorta” buys into Brandon Knight’s breakout season as a floor general, noting that Knight’s “court vision has improved” and he’s now seeing the necessary passing lanes.
No Bucks extension for Brandon Knight … and that’s OK: At Brew Hoop, Frank Madden dissects why it’s OK that the Bucks didn’t agree to a contract extension with Brandon Knight. With so much uncertainty around the league and Knight’s game, opting to not sign Knight to a multiyear contract might be the right decision.
Clip of the Week
Today, we look at the Bucks’ final two possessions against the Indiana Pacers. The results would suggest the first possession was bad and the second possession was good, but both possessions were bad.
Three shooters waiting on the perimeter for 15 seconds for a Knight-Sanders pick and roll is bad basketball. Those three shooters standing completely still with no screening and the closest option (Ersan Ilyasova) having the slowest shot release on the floor is terrible basketball. Although I trust Kidd with the rotation, his end-of-game play-calling has left a little to be desired.
Week in Review
Friday: After a heartbreaking loss in the season-opener in Charlotte, the Bucks started their home schedule off with a bang, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 93-81. O.J. Mayo was the catalyst for the Bucks, hitting five 3-pointers and scoring 25 off the bench.
Saturday: In their first back-to-back of the season, the Bucks fell to the Washington Wizards 108-97 despite 24 points from Brandon Knight and 20 points from Jerryd Bayless off the bench.
Tuesday: Facing a Pacers team much different than the one they saw last year, the Bucks snapped a 16-game road losing streak, defeating Indiana 87-81. Brandon Knight led the way for the Bucks with his third 20-plus point performance of the early season, as he put up 27 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Wednesday: After a closely contested game for most of the night, the Chicago Bulls pulled away from the Bucks in the final three minutes to beat Milwaukee 95-86 in the first game of the I-94 Series.
Next Week’s Preview
Friday: The Bucks take on another Central Division foe as they travel to Detroit to play the Pistons. The Pistons added Stan Van Gundy as their GM and coach during the offseason, but it hasn’t made much of difference, as their offense has been anemic and they’ve only won one game.
Saturday: In their third back-to-back of the season, the Bucks will travel home to take on the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have employed one of the league’s best defenses on their way to an undefeated start through their first five games.
Tuesday: No Kevin Durant. No Russell Westbrook. And no idea what or who the Bucks should expect when the Oklahoma City Thunder come to Milwaukee, as injuries have decimated OKC’s roster early this season.
Stats of the Week
97.38 – Through one week of action, the Bucks are playing at the ninth-fastest PACE in the league, averaging 97.38 possessions per game (via NBA Stats). Last season, they played at the seventh-slowest PACE.
7.2 – Brandon Knight is averaging 7.2 rebounds and assists per game. Both numbers would represent significant increases, as he averaged just 3.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season.
1 – Among rookies, Jabari Parker is currently first in points (10.0), rebounds (6.8) and minutes played (30.9) per game (via NBA Stats).-
Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can yell at Eric or calmly talk to him about Bucks legend Mark Pope on Twitter @eric_nehm. See last week’s column here.