We preview the Milwaukee Bucks and the impact their players will have on the 2016-2017 fantasy basketball season.
The Bucks have an insane amount of money invested in three great backup centers - making all of them a risk to draft for your fantasy team. They added two great perimeter shooters, Matthew Dellavedova from the Cavaliers and Mirza Teletovic from the Suns, and lost a couple backup point guards they didn't need.
And, most recently, they lost their second-best player to a hamstring tear. Khris Middleton will be back in six months, but don't expect him to perform at his normal level right away when he gets back for your fantasy playoffs.
We need to wait and see what the Bucks next move is before we can see who benefits the most from Middleton's absence. At the moment they're forced to go out with one three-point shooter in their starting line-up, and that's not going to fly. Parker only started flourishing when he moved to power forward, so it'll be hard to see them willingly move him back to small forward (and Giannis down to shooting guard) again.
Besides the replacement of Khris Middleton, a lot of the fantasy questions regarding the Bucks revolve around possible trades for Greg Monroe. If it were certain the Bucks were going to be able to move him, it probably would have happened already, so I think he is going to stay on the Bucks roster until the trade deadline at least.
Losing Khris Middleton until April really hampers the Buck's ability to compete for a playoff spot this year, so it is possible they focus on "developing youth" and win a lot fewer games than we had expected.
|Matthew Dellavedova Cleveland Cavaliers
Mirza Teletovic Phoenix Suns
Thon Maker NBA Draft
|Jerryd Bayless Philadelphia 76ers
Chris Copeland New Orleans Pelicans
Greivis Vasquez Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks Depth Chart
Rotation Player Projections
Last year, with the same three centers on the roster (Monroe, Plumlee, and Henson), with the same coach, Monroe started and got the bulk of the minutes at center. Plumlee got the backup role, and Henson was left with the scraps. If the Bucks do want to try and trade Monroe by the trade deadline, it would behoove them to keep him in the starting lineup to showcase his offensive game. Once Monroe sits on the bench, the outlook will be very poor for Monroe - not producing for your fantasy team and likely not getting traded to a better situation. The Bucks have been shopping Monroe long enough that he likely won't be the de-facto starter this year. Despite not knowing who the backup center will be, the Bucks are quite deep at the power forward and center positions, with seven players (including Giannis) likely to get minutes.
The Small Guard Rotation
Since Giannis will be handling the ball with the starters, Dellavedova makes the most sense as the nominal starting point guard - the one defending opposing point guards. This should give him close to 30 minutes per night. Look for some combination of Michael Carter-Williams, Rashad Vaughn, Tyler Ennis, and Jason Terry to share the shooting guard minutes. None of these players will be putting up very strong per-minute numbers, but the lack of depth could lead to a lot of value off the waiver wire depending on how things shake out. Jason Terry is likely going to get the minutes and the starting job early as Kidd decides how to work the rotation moving forward.
The Fourth Wing
Khris Middleton, Giannis, and Jabari Parker made a really strong starting 2-3-4, and one with a really promising future. The depth was already murky before the Middleton injury, now they are just desperate. A lot of the value on this team will change based on what trades are made - and the Bucks will make trades. The only question is if the trades are looking forward (tanking) or trying to be competitive this year (much more likely). Mirza Teletovic is a prolific three-point shooter - he finished second behind Steph Curry in three-pointers attempted per 100 possessions last year and shot over 39% on them - an incredibly valuable player in today's NBA.
After Mirza, there are only question marks. Thon Maker played better than expectations in summer league and could get some of the minutes at power forward. Carter-Williams, Ennis, and Jason Terry can all play either guard position, but would struggle to guard bigger players. Rashad Vaughn is the only bench player with the body type you might expect to play at small forward, but he did not play well enough to earn playing time this year.
Rise in Value
There is very little you can do to overstate the potential Giannis has in fantasy leagues. There is no reason to think he will slow down this year after putting up an amazing run at the end of last year. You can draft him confidently around pick 10-15 and enjoy the show.
While Kidd often bucks (pun intended) common sense in his allocation of game minutes, pairing Delly with Giannis makes a lot of sense. The Bucks did great to sign Dellavedova, and he should really thrive in this off-ball small guard role with the starters and rack up a lot of treys. With fewer high-usage players around him and a much greater opportunity (with no Kyrie) in Milwaukee, Dellavedova should maximize his talents this year.
Decrease in Value
Monroe finished the season in the top 50 based on basketball monster's rankings last year. This year, no one would be surprised if he repeated that, or averaged 5 minutes per game. He is definitely less valuable of an asset as he was last year.
Khris Middleton Out until April
Middleton projects as a top 20 fantasy player (he was top 30 last year and is heading into his 5th season) and does not get talked about enough. He isn't as exciting as a seven-foot "point guard" that does insane things, but how many shooting guards would you want above him on your NBA team? Harden, Butler (both of which might be small forwards), Klay Thompson? That's a short list. Milwaukee is going to have fun watching Khris and Giannis for a long time. This year could be really tough for Bucks fans - Middleton was the player they could least afford to be injured due to their lack of depth. If the Bucks do make a trade or two and find themselves in the playoff hunt, he will be back to close the season but he won't be fully recovered until 2017-18 or maybe even 2018-19.
The former rookie of the year winner averaged over 30 minutes per game last year and finished #114 in basketball monster's rankings. He went into the year in a position battle for the starting point guard spot, but with the news about Khris Middleton you can only assume he'll start next to Dellavedova until they find a replacement. Expect him to have more minutes early and if he can show growth as a shooter (don't count on it), he might be in line for a rise in value.