A Quick Glance at the Current Bucks Rotation

June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; John Henson (North Carolina) puts on a cap after being introduced as the number fourteen overall pick to the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

With John Henson and Doron Lamb joining the Milwaukee Bucks last night, I thought it would be interesting to see how much time they might be able to get on the floor. The best way to look at this is as if you're constructing a rotation on NBA 2k12 or something similar; pick your starters and assign minutes from there.

You already know that we're heavy on forwards and light on guards, but as with any team, the distribution of minutes will determine who sees a lot of floor time and who gets mop-up duty. With the pre-draft trade, we lost Shaun Livingston, Jon Leuer, and Jon Brockman, none of whom took up that many minutes. So let's see who's left.

Here's a table of the roster as it stands right now (with my own interpretation of how different players fit in at different positions):

Position Starter Bench 1 Bench 2 Bench 3
PG Brandon Jennings Beno Udrih Monta Ellis
SG Monta Ellis Mike Dunleavy Doron Lamb
SF L. Mbah a Moute Mike Dunleavy Tobias Harris
PF Drew Gooden Ekpe Udoh Larry Sanders John Henson
C Samuel Dalembert Larry Sanders Ekpe Udoh Drew Gooden

A few details before I get started...

  1. I'm penciling in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Drew Gooden based on Skiles' preference for starters he's comfortable with at those positions. We all know LRMaM (and maybe Tobias Harris as well) will play a fair bit of the 4, but with the current depth at that spot, I didn't feel like going 6 deep right away.
  2. We're only considering current players, i.e. under contract. Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino, and Kwame Brown? If you want in, you'll have to get signed first.
  3. Minutes will be distributed based on last season's usage, players' career averages, players' current trend (in terms of their own career arc; for example, Tobias Harris should be trending up while Drew Gooden should be trending down), and (obviously) depth at any given position.
  4. I won't get into lineup combinations here; I'll leave that to someone more qualified. You can probably figure out the best lineups on your own.
All that said, let's dive into it. The total minutes available for any game is 240, so our allocation will reflect this.

Brandon Jennings - 34 mpg: This is a no-brainer. Jennings has been a high-usage player throughout his career, and his ability to take care of the ball has earned Scott Skiles' trust.

Beno Udrih - 20 mpg: Udrih's ability to calm down the offense, play with both Jennings and Ellis, and the fact that he's the only other PG on the team mean that he'll have plenty of playing time.

Monta Ellis - 34 mpg: Another no-brainer. He's the most athletic member of the guard corps, and has the most consistent and versatile offensive game. His passing is an added bonus, especially on this team.

Mike Dunleavy - 24 mpg: Our sixth-man extraordinaire, Dunleavy's impact on the offense is irreplaceable on the current roster. He'll get equal time at both the 2 and the 3, depending on matchups, and the only things limiting him are his age and defensive shortcomings.

Doron Lamb - 6 mpg: Rookies don't play a ton on Scott Skiles teams (Jennings being a rare exception), and second round picks aren't expected to play much on any squad. That being said, Lamb's exceptional long-range shooting will earn him minutes in certain situations.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - 18 mpg: Call me a pessimist, but I see LRMaM's knee issues being chronic and affecting his effectiveness. A healthy Luc has great value on defense, but the glut of defensive big-men limit his opportunity at the 4, and his knee issues could limit his opportunity at the 3. He's also a net-minus on offense, giving Skiles less and less justification to leave him on the floor.

Tobias Harris - 14 mpg: A slight increase from last year, but Harris is still so young and has so much further to go in terms of developing his perimeter skills and defense that I can't see him getting more than scrap minutes at the 3. I'd love to see him get time at PF, but we have roughly 70 of those, so those stints will be few and far between.

Drew Gooden - 16 mpg: Gooden is one of the older players on the team, and although his shooting and passing abilities helped fuel Milwaukee's dynamic offense last year, his lack of awareness and propensity for turnovers combined with his advancing age will see him dip below both his career averages and his usage from last year.

Ekpe Udoh - 22 mpg: While both LRMaM and Gooden's minutes wane in my hypothetical, Udoh is one of the beneficiaries. His versatility, toughness, and awareness will get him burn wherever Skiles needs it, be it at the 4 or the 5 spot. He's talented enough to fit in next to any of the big men on Milwaukee's roster, which can only help him get playing time.

Larry Sanders - 16 mpg: I see Larry's minutes being decided how he performs over the course of summer league (which I hope he attends), pre-season, and the first dozen regular season games. At this point, he's a known quantity, so unless he shows improvement on offense and/or limits his fouls on defense, I can see him getting pulled for his North Carolina doppelganger.

John Henson - 10 mpg: He's a rookie, but one of the highest-rated on Milwaukee's pre-draft rankings. His replication of Larry's game with better offensive skills (especially his hands) will syphon minutes away from Sanders at the beginning, with more coming from other sources depending on Henson's impact. Henson would be perfect for time in the D-League if he can't have a different impact on the floor than Sanders, which some of us expect.

Samuel Dalembert - 26 mpg: He might be a bit older, but Sammy D's the only true center on Milwaukee's roster, and his game fits in perfectly with what the Bucks want: shot blocking, rebounding, floor-running, with a little pick-and-pop thrown in.

Here are a few things I noticed while putting this together:
  • Too many PFs. Shocking, no? But with Gooden, Udoh, Sanders, cameo's from Mbah a Moute and Harris, and now Henson, there's simply not enough time to go around. None of these players are particularly effective at center (see: Milwaukee Bucks 2010-11 season), but what's worse is that they all do pretty much the same thing. Save for Gooden, they're all defensive specialists with shot-altering abilities, but little offensive contributions.
  • Door shutting for Ersan. Pending any deals between now and Ersan signing a contract somewhere, there's just no way to fit Ilyasova onto this roster, no matter the price. He's good, but he's not good enough to merit taking minutes from everyone else on a consistent basis. All of our current PFs range from average to slightly above-average, and Ersan's presence would serve to stunt the younger players' growth.
  • PG depth? After Jennings and Udrih, the cupboard is bare. Sure, Ellis could probably handle point guard duties, and between him and Dunleavy, there's decent passing ability on the perimeter. But if Jennings or Udrih get hurt, there's a problem. Udrih is a great bench PG, but he's underwhelming as a heavy figure in the rotation. And Jennings has proven the ability to handle a heavy workload, but he needs a breather just like everyone else, and Udrih serves as a Luke Ridnour-esque safety net.
  • Potential deals coming soon...I hope. With the way the roster is set up right now, I see definite improvement from last year. I think this team can handle Detroit and Cleveland, as well as compete with Indiana and Chicago (sans Derrick Rose). But that's if everyone stays perfectly healthy and plays to their potential, and with all of that the ceiling for this team still isn't terribly high. One deal I'd love to see is shipping out Drew Gooden for a lower-priced guard or wing player, which could also free up minutes and dollars to re-sign Ersan, or another offensively skilled PF (like Antawn Jamison or Carl Landry). This would better balance out the roster for a run at the playoffs, if that's what the team wants to do.
Of course, this is all just one man's opinion. What says BrewHoop Nation?
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