Just a season ago the Milwaukee Bucks were a team on the rise. They finished the 2014-2015 season with a record of 41-41, and entered the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. That playoff berth was the franchise’s first trip to the postseason since getting swept by the Miami Heat two seasons prior.
Coming into this season, it would be expected that the Bucks would build on their semi-successful season; however, that would not be the case. Their record at this point last year was two games above .500 at 21-19. Currently, their record is 18-25, and they are on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.
There has to be changes in Milwaukee before the trade deadline approaches, otherwise the Bucks will fall back into their strong habits of being mediocre and non-threatening in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks have an apparent fear of shooting three-pointers. They shoot 15.9 threes per game, which is the second-lowest clip in the league. The Bucks possess no three-point shooters besides Jerryd Bayless, who receives 29 mpg, and their million dollar man Khris Middleton.
They both shoot above 40% from three, but beyond those two players it’s hard to find another shooter on that roster. The Bucks personnel is stacked with players who live in the paint and aren’t capable of consistently making jump shots. Michael Carter-Williams has improved his stroke since arriving to Milwaukee, improving from a putrid 14% from three to an average 36%.
However, this team needs more than Middleton, Bayless, and Carter-Williams slightly improving his shot to make it out from their low rank of thirteenth in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks have three bigs with loads of potential in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Greg Monroe. In a perfect world, the Bucks would be able to keep all of these non-shooters and excel in their conference. That hasn’t been the case so far, as they all work in and around the painted area. Parker displayed potential of developing a jumpshot through his 35 games in Duke, where he shot 36% from three. It obviously has been a rough transition seeing as Parker has attempted only 6 threes and missed all 6 of them.
Giannis isn’t one to favor jumpshots either as he is only shooting 22% on three pointers so far this season. Greg Monroe was never really known for his three-point shooting and hasn’t taken one to this point. So the main question is, which player has to go?
Greg Monroe leads the Milwaukee Bucks in win shares at 4.0, rebounds per game at 9.8, and is second on the team in points per game at 15.2. Which makes this a difficult decision for the Bucks but it has to be done; Monroe must be the player that gets shipped off. Some may question the logic of trading Monroe after signing him to a three-year, $50 million deal over the offseason.
However, although he is young, Giannis and Jabari both possess more potential and talent/skill to become two of the league’s best forwards if they continue to develop. Additionally, Giannis and Jabari are both still on their rookie deals; Antetokounmpo from ‘13 and Parker from ‘14.
It would be wise for the Bucks to take advantage of the great season Monroe is putting together. In return, they should look to receive a player with a consistent jump shot, a veteran to assist in further team progression, or a lottery draft pick in this upcoming draft.
A possible trade that the Bucks should explore is: Greg Monroe (16.4 million) to the New Orleans Pelicans, for Ryan Anderson (8.5 million) and Omer Asik (9.2 million).
With this trade, the Pelicans get a young, low-post oriented big man to lineup next to superstar Anthony Davis, while the Bucks get in return a veteran big man who will play his role and a stretch-four to fill their desperate need of a shooter.
Whether the Bucks make a trade similar to this or not, something needs to change because this season will be a lost one if they don’t evaluate their issues and figure out what has to be done to fix them.