The Milwaukee Bucks had no other choice but to run it back after a shocking and disappointing round one loss to the Miami Heat. Hopefully, a full offseason can get Khris Middleton back to full health after he signed a three-year deal for $102 million. Brook Lopez was brought back in a two-year $48 million contract.
After that though, the Bucks operated on the fringes. They signed Malik Beasley and Robin Lopez to minimum deals, drafted Connecticut's Andre Jackson Jr. and Kentucky's Chris Singleton in the second-round of the 2023 NBA Draft, and elevated second-year player AJ Green from a two-way to a normal NBA contract. The Bucks are deservedly regarded as legitimate title contenders, but they still have a few holes on their roster they should try to address.
Bucks' biggest roster concern: Aging Core and need for another creator
The first of which they already have addressed: the Bucks are old. They were the oldest team by average age heading into the 2022-23 season. That was even before they acquired Jae Crowder (33 years old) at the trade deadline. That makes sense. The Bucks' title window is *now.* They need players who can help them *now.* Those players tend to be more grizzled vets.
But it wouldn't kill them to get younger and more athletic. This is where the selections of Andre Jackson Jr. and Chris Singleton as well as last year's first-round pick MarJon Beauchamp come into play. Singleton is more of a project, but is big for a wing (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) and plays hard. Beauchamp should be given a chance to compete for a rotation spot in his second season. But Jackson Jr. is ready to contribute to winning. He just did it for the title-winning UConn Huskies. He isn't much of a shooter at this stage of his career, but he shines as a connector and makes winning plays for his team. This play is a perfect example.
You want a winning player? Draft Andre Jackson Jr. pic.twitter.com/d87xdIiYh0
— Shervon Fakhimi (@ShervonFakhimi) May 17, 2023
Because Andre Jackson Jr. isn't much of a shooter (career 29.3% three-point shooter and 70.2% free throw shooter), his fit next to Giannis Antetokounmpo would be tricky, but buoyed thanks to the shooting abilities of Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis. He also isn't guaranteed a spot in the rotation. He should though because of his defensive versatility and IQ and ability as a connector on offense.
Bucks need another creator
Surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton with other guys who need the ball isn't the best way to build a roster, but it could be something the Bucks could use.
Their offense was out of rhythm for the entirety of their series against the Miami Heat. Jrue Holiday was especially ineffective on offense. As the de facto primary creator without Giannis for portions of that series and Middleton not all the way back to full strength, Holiday struggled. Both his true shooting and effective field goal percentage were below 50%. Miami took Milwaukee out of their rhythm in their 2023 series and Holiday and the Bucks didn't have many counters for it. A lot of their possessions stalled into nothingness like this.
Just didn't love the process from the Bucks in the 4th. Nothing until 15 on the clock. Middleton/Giannis screen for Jrue, Lowry switches and Bam stays in a drop and it just…turns into this. pic.twitter.com/zNcvivxgnE
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) April 25, 2023
The only guard with a usage rate above 15% for the Bucks in the playoffs that wasn't Jrue Holiday was Pat Connaughton at 15.7%. Yes, Antetokounmpo is the Bucks' primary playmaker and Middleton is a shot creator too, but that is too much reliance on a frontcourt to create offense.
Milwaukee doesn't need to upgrade on Holiday or anything of the sort. But someone else that can create offense for himself or others and get the Bucks their halfcourt offense to make things easier for Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Holiday would be great. It was the basis for the acquisition of Joe Ingles last summer.
Perhaps the Bucks can swing a deal for Tyus Jones from the Washington Wizards. Or Delon Wright. Malik Beasley is more so a shooter than a creator. The Bucks ranked second in 3-point attempts last season. Maybe Beasley's microwave shooting ability can help them out? When he gets hot, he really gets hot.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 24, 2023
The Bucks are title contenders, and rightfully so. As long as Giannis is healthy, they will have a shot at the Larry O'Brien Trophy no matter what. He wasn't healthy last year, and it was a big reason why they lost. But it wasn't the *only* reason why. The Bucks are old and don't have a ton of shot creation on the perimeter. They've added some young prospects but could use another guard or two that can create. The league awaits if they can swing a move like that.