The Milwaukee Bucks took a significant step backward last season following their surprising run to the postseason in 2014-15. The splashy signing of Greg Monroe was a flop as the defense regressed terribly, and he found himself coming off the bench by the end of the season. Ditto for Michael Carter-Williams before he got injured. Now the Bucks are trying to turn things back around behind Point Giannis and more shooting. Will they make a return to the playoffs?
1. Best move of offseason
Dave Hogg: Acquiring Matthew Dellavedova. Delly brings a lot of positives to the Bucks, but the most important thing is that he’s not Michael Carter-Williams. Yes, Giannis is going to play point forward, but Dellavedova can defend point guards, handle the ball and provide Jason Kidd with something other than a black hole at the 1. He’s also a 40-percent shooter from behind the arc, which should provide a boost for the worst three-point shooting team in recent memory.
Kelly Scaletta: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but snagging Matthew Dellavedova is a bigger deal than some might think. Point guards who can handle the rock some, but are more effective off the ball than on it and play defense and shoot — 3-and-D point guards if you will — are rare. The Bucks discovered gold in letting “Greek Freak” run the offense last year, and clearly they’re planning on letting him do more of that this year. Delly helps that cause.
Jason Patt: Let’s make it three-for-three in liking the Delly move for Milwaukee. Delly was pretty awful down the stretch and into the playoffs last season for the Cavaliers, but he’s the exact kind of player the Bucks needed to get. He won’t be the primary ball handler with Point Giannis around, but he’ll play defense, knock down three-pointers at a solid clip and provide secondary ball handling.
2. Worst move of offseason
Dave: Keeping Greg Monroe. Maybe Kidd and John Hammond think they can get something for Moose at the trading deadline, but it is hard to see how he’s going to develop any trade value as he watches the season unfold from the bench. Monroe is what he is — an old-school center who is going to score in the post, hit the odd 10-footer and grab a ton of defensive rebounds. That might work on some rosters, but a slow, unathletic big is a disaster in Milwaukee.
Kelly: I’m no draft expert and don’t pretend to be one, but I do know that they reached for Thon Maker with the No. 10 pick in the draft. My argument isn’t whether he’ll be a good player or not, it’s about what they spent on him. They could have gotten someone else with that pick and still made a trade to get him down much further, perhaps into the second round. And let’s be honest here, trading for second-round picks is cheap.
Jason: I’m not really sure what the Bucks are doing in general with their frontcourt. Multiple reports are out there saying they’ve been trying to trade Greg Monroe, but to no avail so they still have him. They took a raw project in Thon Maker at No. 10 in the draft. Then they re-signed Miles Plumlee to a somewhat staggering four-year deal worth over $50 million. They also added Mirza Teletovic, a move that makes sense because of his shooting ability, but he’s also a frontcourt player. I’m just assuming Greg Monroe will get moved sooner rather than later, but for now it’s kind of a mess.
3. Offseason grade
Dave: B. Adding Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic means that Khris Middleton won’t have to take every three-pointer, and Thon Maker is a fascinating project at center. They do get knocked down a little for outbidding themselves to give Miles Plumlee $52 million.
Kelly: C+. There isn’t a lot to grade. They got better. They still have the Greg Monroe problem, so they didn’t solve that.
Jason: C+. The additions of Delly and Teletovic will help the three-point shooting, but this grade gets dragged down by the weird stuff happening in the frontcourt. If a trade of Monroe happens soon, this grade would receive a bump up to the B range.
4. Early prediction for 2016-17
Dave: Things have to be better than last year, right? Delly, Teletovic and Middleton will provide enough outside shooting to let Giannis, Jabari Parker and Plumlee get to the rim with regularity. Hammond trades Monroe for a second-round pick in 2017 at the deadline, and Maker takes over his playing time to help the Bucks to the eight seed and a sweep at the hands of the Cavaliers.
Kelly: 38-42 wins. They’ll have a shot at the No. 8 seed, but I don’t see them getting past the first round. Just too much growth is still needed from this group.
Jason: I have to think the Bucks improve on their disappointing mark from last season, but it still could be a tall order to reach the playoffs unless all the kids simultaneously take major leaps forward. While that’s not out of the realm of possibility, I’m thinking Milwaukee falls just short of the postseason.