The NBA trade deadline is three weeks away and thus, we are in the middle of fake trade season, one of the most enjoyable times to be a fan of the NBA. By simply going to ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, anyone can get a hold of the Bucks roster and make the move that guarantees the Bucks will hold the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the next few years. It’s all so easy, John Hammond! Why don’t you see it?!?
While I certainly won’t stop any of you from participating, I will refrain this season. The Bucks should do the same.
As the Bucks continue to underperform with a 20-27 record and a roster that might not fit all that well together, this may seem like a counterintuitive approach. But a recent look at the box score shows why a major roster shakeup doesn’t make a ton of sense right now.
The Bucks’ most important young players are playing really well. I already covered Khris Middleton’s emergence in this space last week, which has been a welcome surprise, but pales in comparison to the development of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, who are currently in the middle of their best months as NBA players. Let me say that again.
This seems important, yet many want the Bucks to make a move and completely change the roster because “this roster clearly isn’t going to work. The Bucks are not going to win a NBA championship with this combination of players and many of these players will not be on a championship roster.”
And to be honest, that reasoning is undeniably true. The Bucks roster is going to change significantly in the three-to-five years it will take to build a title contender, but that is true of all NBA rosters. They change. On average, just around 30 percent of the players on a current NBA roster will show up on that same roster in three years.
Logically, who would you think tends to make up a large majority of that 30 percent that sticks around? That’s right — young players on controllable contracts. Guys like Middleton, Parker, and Antetokounmpo.
So, while many Bucks fans seem focused on the players on the roster that won’t be around in three years, I prefer to focus on the three young players who seem quite comfortable in their current roles and are playing the best basketball of their career. A move to try to find another player to add to that trio would only upset the ecosystem that has allowed the trio to expand their roles and develop their skills
Why take that chance? What happened to all the patience Bucks fans have bragged about having for the last two years?
The Bucks’ young players are playing the best basketball of their career and I, for one, would like to see that continue.
Clip of the Week
I am guilty of using Middleton’s playmaking in this space repeatedly in the last month, but it is staggering to watch this play from the closing moments of the Bucks most recent game against the Magic. Middleton obviously makes the right play, but look how far Shabazz Napier is playing off of sharpshooter (see Stats of the Week below) Jerryd Bayless. That’s a lot of help to send at “3-and-D specialist” Khris Middleton!
What to Read
A Dozen Trades the Bucks Could Technically Make…But Probably Won’t – While I have decided to sit out from using the Trade Machine, Bucksketball’s Nick Whalen played with it and came up with 12 trades that the Bucks could make this trade deadline. Potential targets: Darrell Arthur, DeMarcus Cousins, Taj Gibson, Jrue Holiday, Kevin Love, Patrick Patterson, Julius Randle, Dennis Schroder, and Marcus Smart.
The Numbers Behind the Bucks’ Floor Spacing – At Vantage Sports, Mika Honkasolo took a closer look at the Bucks’ floor spacing and how cutting has become a vital part of the Bucks’ offensive successes.
Jason Kidd wants to see more high-fives from Bucks – While many people on the Internet have poked fun at this article, I think Charles Gardner did a wonderful job describing a topic Jason Kidd became very concerned with while watching games from home: a lack of emotion.
Week in Review
Friday – After winning three straight, things were looking good for the Bucks as they traveled to Houston to take on the Rockets (without Dwight Howard) for their third game on a four-game road trip. Ultimately, the Bucks dug themselves too deep of a hole as their fourth quarter comeback was not enough to catch the Rockets in a 102-98 loss.
Saturday – One night later, in New Orleans, the Bucks put together one of their more embarrassing performances of the season, allowing 54.8 percent three point shooting in a 116-99 loss to the Pelicans. Greg Monroe and Khris Middleton paced the Bucks with 22 points each, but the Bucks just could not keep the Pelicans from capitalizing from deep.
Tuesday – After giving up eight first half threes, it looked like the Bucks would fail to survive their opponent’s three-point barrage, but they were able to slow down the Orlando Magic in the second half and come away with a 107-100 victory. Khris Middleton continued his recent stretch of exceptional play with 25 points and 7 assists, but Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 25 points might have been a little more exciting with eight dunks from Antetokounmpo on the night.
Next Week’s Preview
Thursday – Despite struggling at the start of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies have been hot since Christmas, winning ten of their last 15 games. While Zach Randolph might be declining, Marc Gasol remains one of the league’s best centers and should provide an interesting challenge for Greg Monroe.
Friday – The Bucks beat the Heat 91-79 just over a week ago in Miami with Middleton going off for 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. The Heat have struggled with injuries with Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Josh McRoberts, Hassan Whiteside, Luol Deng, Gerald Green, and Beno Udrih all missing time in the last few weeks.
Monday – For the past three years, the eighth seed in the Western Conference has needed to win at least 45 games to qualify for the spot. This year, the conference is not as strong and the Sacramento Kings are in the running for the eighth spot at 20-25. The Bucks lost to the Kings 129-118 in the teams’ first meeting on November 25.
Tuesday – In their second back-to-back of the week, the Bucks will end to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Portland Trail Blazers for the second time this season. Back on December 7th, the Bucks beat the Blazers with John Henson sealing a victory on a block of a Meyers Leonard floater in the game’s closing moments.
Stats of the Week
48.6 – Jerryd Bayless is shooting 48.6 percent from the three-point line on catch-and-shoot opportunities, which is the NBA’s eighth highest mark. (Middleton is 11th at 46.9 percent.)
-5.1 – The quartet of Carter-Williams/Middleton/Antetokounmpo/Parker has played quite a bit together this season and much of the time they’ve played together has been with Greg Monroe. In fact, “the preferred starting lineup” has played 392 minutes this season. In that time, they have been 5.1 points per 100 possessions worse than their opponents.
29.3 – The above mentioned quartet has also played 61 minutes together with John Henson, instead of Monroe. In those 61 minutes, they are outscoring their opponents by 29.3 points per 100 possessions, a staggering number. While 61 minutes represents a miniscule sample size, it will be interesting to see if the Bucks will turn to Henson more often with the other four starters.
Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine’s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can also find his work at SBNation’s Brew Hoop or you can find him on Twitter @eric_nehm, where he would LOVE to hear your best Bucks trade proposal.