The Milwaukee Bucks have finally found a way to bring it all together. Well, during the regular season that is. Despite having one of the best records in the NBA, true success for a team is measured in the playoffs. This is where the Bucks have fallen short lately. With a bonafide superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo, it was only a matter of time before the pieces fit together.
With Eric Bledsoe returning to form and Khris Middleton becoming a great second option, the Bucks have enjoyed as other pieces like Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon. However, in order for them to be taken seriously come playoff time, the Bucks must add a bit more firepower.
Through the season, the Bucks have five players averaging double-digits in scoring but fall short in some of the intangibles it will take to win a championship.
Antetokounmpo is a master of all trades, but the one area where the Bucks are lacking, he can’t offer much support. As a team, the Milwaukee Bucks average 38.4 three-point attempts per game but hit .347 percent from the floor. As athletic as they are, perimeter play has been their biggest weakness this season.
Despite ranking in the top 10 defensively, they’re still lacking a true defensive presence in the paint. Lopez can score, but his lack of rebounding can hurt the team. Before the trade deadline ends, the Bucks will have to make a few moves to shore up their roster.
Here are 3 early trade deadline targets for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Dwight Howard (Washington Wizards)
Despite his surgery, Howard could be a great deadline steal. He’s not due on the court until February which will work out just fine for the Bucks. The Wizards are not expected to make a strong playoff push with the absence of John Wall so letting Howard go for a player and draft pick may be their best option before he becomes a free agent this summer.
Howard would be the defensive upgrade the Bucks need to make a strong run. While he’s not the dominant player he once was, Howard can still net you 12.8 points and 9.3 rebounds and the best part is, he’s only due $5.6 million.
The Bucks can toss out a lineup that consists of Middleton, Bledsoe, Antetokounmpo, Howard, and Brogdon. How many teams in the East can contend with that?
Wayne Ellington (Miami Heat)
Every piece needed does not have to be for the starting unit. By adding a shooter like Ellington, the Bucks will assure themselves of a scorer capable of knocking down the perimeter shot when defenses collapse to the paint. Ellington is not an All-Star or player on the rise, but he’s a solid veteran averaging 8.3 points on .358 from the floor including hitting on .365 percent of his three-point attempts in 22.7 minutes per night.
The Bucks use their athleticism and great ball handling to get to the paint but their inability to hit the open shot will cost them big. While teams like the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Philadelphia 76ers have their elite shooters, the Bucks must find a way to counter with a few of their own. Ellington has never shot worse than 35 percent from deep during his career.
Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)
It’s the same with adding Howard. Gasol will be used for defensive purposes but he also brings a better scoring touch and adds more professionalism to the team. While Howard will come at a cheaper price, Gasol is the piece needed if the Bucks are willing to go all out.
For the past two seasons, his name has been mentioned in a few trade rumors. Will this be the season they finally move the big man? The reason this has to an all-or-nothing move for the Bucks is that the Grizzlies will not let Gasol go for cheap. The Milwaukee Bucks have relied on their youth but adding Gasol will cost them at least one of those players. How far are they willing to go to win?
In case the Bucks can pull this off, their lineup could rival anyone’s in the NBA. Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Bledsoe, and Gasol will give the small-market Bucks a formidable Big 4 that will shake the core of the NBA. The downside to this deal is that Gasol will be 34 by the deadline and he’s on the last year of an expiring contract that will pay him $24 million. Despite his age, Gasol has averaged 15.4 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the floor. He’s a gamble, an expensive one at that, but he could be the difference between championship or bust.