The NBA regular season is now squarely in our rear view mirror and we are all witnessing one of the best playoffs in recent memory. While the 2014-15 season seems a long way off, it’s never too early to visit those teams that we have seen play for the last time this season and look back on what transpired.
First of all, let’s look back on the train wreck that was the 2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks. The table below has the per-game stats for all the Bucks’ players as well as their end of season rankings based on totals in both nine and eight category leagues.
|Name||Pos||9-cat Rank||8-cat Rank||PPG||3Pt||RPG||APG||SPG||BPG||FG%||FT%||TO|
As you can see above, there wasn’t a lot to be happy about if you were an owner of Milwaukee Bucks’ players. Only three players ended the season ranked in the top 150 and of those three, only Brandon Knight was a player who was drafted in standard leagues.
There were busts littered all over that snazzy new court in Milwaukee. Ersan Ilyasova. Larry Sanders. O.J. Mayo.
Both Ilyasova and Sanders were drafted in the top 50 in the preseason, yet failed to finish within the top 200 at year’s end. Injury was obviously a huge part of that, with Sanders playing only 23 games and Ilyasova managing 55. O.J. Mayo also only suited up for 52 games, but a lot of those games missed were a coaches decision, not just his mystery illness that sidelined him in January and February.
Sanders, in particular, was a huge disappointment. He started the season with three horrible performances, totalling only eight points and 11 rebounds in those three games and failed to play over 22 minutes in any of the contests. Then, he suffered a torn thumb ligament injury, suffered in a bar fight, which he initially lied about. That caused him to miss six weeks. Upon returning, Sanders played for a little over a month, before suffering a fractured orbital bone, ruling him out for the season. To cap off a horrendous season, Sanders was suspended five games for violating the NBA’s substance abuse policy by using marijuana. It borders on impossible that Sanders could have a worse season in 2014-15.
Let’s now have a look at the rankings of the Bucks’ players on a per-game basis and also based on per-36 stats. The per-game numbers are handy for looking at injured players and viewing capabilities for a bounce back next season, based on what they were able to do when they were healthy. The per-36 numbers are a little different. They can’t be taken completely at face value, but are worth looking at as a guide, especially if that player is likely to have a change in playing time or opportunity next season. I’ve also included a column relating to the 2014-15 status of the player, contract-wise.
|Name||Pos||9-cat per game||8-cat per game||9-cat per 36||8-cat per 36||2014-15 Status|
|Brandon Knight||PG/SG||102||70||200||112||On Team|
|John Henson||PF/C||109||115||119||109||On Team|
|Khris Middleton||SF||110||122||193||210||On Team|
|Larry Sanders||PF/C||152||167||221||259||On Team|
|Ersan Ilyasova||SF/PF||157||174||218||267||On Team|
|Zaza Pachulia||C||197||175||284||227||On Team|
|O.J. Mayo||SG||220||185||312||251||On Team|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||SG/SF||230||205||345||313||On Team|
|Nate Wolters||PG||256||252||315||343||On Team|
|Miroslav Raduljica||C||350||353||172||154||On Team|
So, what can we glean from these numbers? The thing that stand out to me is the play of John Henson. What usually happens when you look at per-36 numbers, is that players drop down considerably as all the numbers get normalised across the league. But with Henson, his ranking remained about the same and that is both encouraging and discouraging at the same time.
How can it be both? Well, it screams about Henson’s potential and about how well he played this season in only 26 minutes a game. The problem with that is his head coach. Larry Drew was one of the most infuriating head coaches in fantasy all season. When the Bucks were hurting up front, with Sanders and Ilyasova injured, Drew still wouldn’t commit to playing his second-year lottery pick from North Carolina major minutes. Instead Drew went with veteran stop gap Zaza Pachulia or free agent-to-be Jeff Adrien and didn’t let his potential gem flourish.
It’s true that Adrien was fantastic when he arrived in Milwaukee via a trade with Charlotte, but the fact that he is a free agent next season makes the rationale behind playing him in preference to Hanson seem puzzling at best.
So, how did the Bucks’ rookies fare this season? Nate Wolters was a huge surprise as a second-round pick and had decent value for a short time as the team’s starting point guard. It’ll be hard for him to continue to have a role next season with Brandon Knight and Ramon Sessions coming back, a rookie potentially entering the backcourt rotation and O.J. Mayo looking to bounce back from an abomination of season.
Nearly everyone’s favourite rookie, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was up and down in his first season in the NBA, his first season living in the USA. At only 19 years of age, his potential is phenomenal and he showed glimpses of what could be an exciting future. But, overall, his season was a bit of a disappointment. He projects as a guy who can have a Nicolas Batum type of skill set and is absolutely huge to be playing as a shooting guard. He looks to be a guy who will grab steals and blocks as well as an above average amount of boards for a two guard eligible player. In a keeper league, Antetokounmpo has a ton of value and for what you’d need to sacrifice to keep him, he’ll wind up a steal in a few years.
A huge amount of the Bucks’ fantasy prospects for next season hinge on what happens with their very high draft pick. As you can see above, they don’t have a huge amount of roster flexibility in regards to free agency, so the biggest change will come via their incoming rookies.
Tis is pure speculation, but if Milwaukee ends up with the number one overall pick, I can see them targeting Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins and playing them at the small forward position. Whoever they do pick, I can see them having quite a bit of fantasy value as they are going to have a role waiting for them.
Sanders and Ilyasova will come at a big discount next season and will almost definitely drop out of the top 50 and if you get them late enough, could end up becoming huge steals.