NBA Future Power Rankings: 9. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have a lot of questions that need to be answered moving forward, but they more than deserve their top-10 ranking. For the Bucks it all starts with 21-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is entering the final season of his rookie contract and is sure to receive a max offer from Milwaukee next season. Giannis is already an all-around star with averages of 18 points,8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block per game, despite being the same age as a college senior. Giannis is one of the select few players you can comfortably build your franchise around. Giannis still needs a lot of work on his shot, but other than that he is the complete package. Not including Giannis, how many players can guard nearly every player in the league and function as his team's primary ball handler and playmaker? The only other players that come to mind with this skill-set are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Draymond Green. I expect Giannis to make his first All-Star team this season, and if he can improve his shot, he will blossom into a top-10 player in the league. Another reason the Bucks are ranked so high is my choice for the most underrated player in the league, Khris Middleton. Middleton has come a long way since being selected in the 2nd round in 2012 and being a throw in as part of the Brandon Jennings-Brandon Knight swap. Compared to the contracts other wings received this offseason; having the 24-year-old Middleton at just $42 Million over the next three seasons is a bargain. After Klay Thompson, Middleton might be the best all-around shooting guard in the NBA. Not many players can put up stat lines of 18.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.7 SPG while shooting 40% from downtown and playing lockdown defense. Perhaps it's due to the small market in Milwaukee, but Giannis and Middleton do not get the recognition they deserve as two of the best all-around young stars in the NBA. I am already convinced these two players are budding stars, which means the development of Jabari Parker will determine how high and how soon the Bucks climb the Eastern Conference rankings. In the first quarter of the 2014-15 season, Parker was the early favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, the 2nd pick of the 2014 draft missed the final 57 games of the year with a torn ACL. Parker returned last season, but he still looked a bit rusty from the injury. The potential is there for the 21 year old, but he has a lot of holes in his game. Parker has shown flashes and has the body type to be a Carmelo Anthony type scorer, but only time will tell if he reaches this level. At the moment Parker is far from being even an average outside shooter and is a liability on defense. Perhaps another offseason to heal his knee and improve his skills will help him make a big leap during his 3rd pro season. The other two projected starters for Milwaukee, Michael Carter Williams and Greg Monroe, also carry a lot of questions. MCW is an excellent rebounder and defender for a point guard and a decent playmaker. His size, alongside Parker, Middleton, and the Greek Freak, brings a lot of versatility to Milwaukee’s lineup. The reason the former Rookie of the Year doesn’t fit, is his awful outside shooting. The Bucks still use a traditional center that can't shoot threes, while Giannis and Parker are also poor shooters from beyond the arc. Having MCW on the floor makes it 4 bad outside shooters on the court and creates terrible spacing. The Bucks should look to trade MCW while he is on the final year of his rookie contract for a point guard that fits better with the team’s current roster. Greg Monroe was last season’s big free agent signing,, but, like MCW, he doesn’t fit with the Bucks “Big 3”. Monroe is a traditional center that operates with his back to the basket and can be counted on to create his own shown in the post. Monroe is one of the best passing centers in the league and a decent rebounder and has a remained healthy throughout his career. On the other hand, the 26-year-old center prevents the Bucks from playing a run and gun system that better suits the rest of the lineup, and Monroe provides little rim protection on defense. There have been many rumors the Bucks are looking to deal Monroe. The Bucks should trade him for a center that can do at least one of the two -- run the floor and shoot threes or protect the rim. After making the least 3s per game of any team last season, the Bucks wisely added two very good three point shooters to their bench in forward Mirza Teletovic (3-years $30 Million) and guard Matthew Dellavedova (4-years $39 Million). The Bucks also gave Miles Plumlee a 4-year 52 Million extension. Plumlee and John Henson (4-years $44 Million remaining on his contract) form one of the better and more expensive reserve big man duos in the league and solid insurance if Monroe is dealt. The Bucks also own all of their future 1st round picks, and have collected some appealing young prospects like Tyler Ennis (18th pick in 2014), Rashad Vaughn (17th pick in 2015), and Thon Maker (10th pick in 2016). With Middleton, Giannis, and Parker aboard and all under 25, the Bucks have a bright future to look forward to.