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NBA Free Agency 2011: Milwaukee Bucks' Big Men Options

Who wants to come play for the Milwaukee Bucks and get yelled at by Scott Skiles? Any takers? Anyone? (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Who wants to come play for the Milwaukee Bucks and get yelled at by Scott Skiles? Any takers? Anyone? (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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The Wisconsin Badgers are 2011 Big Ten Champions and are now headed to the Rose Bowl after a spectacular and thrilling 42-39 victory over the Michigan St. Spartans in the first-ever conference championship game on Saturday night. Bucky deserves serious props for the accomplishment.

If you aren't busy (a) trying to buy all the Rose Bowl tickets/gear your bank account will allow, (b) trying furiously to wash that strangely resilient red face paint off your skin or (c) working on getting together bail money after flipping over that car down the street during your post-game celebration, I invite you to take a look at some potential 2011 NBA free agent options for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Dan recently did a great job of setting the table for a breakdown of potential fits, and I tried to add some perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of players currently on the Bucks' roster as well, so now it's time to look at some available talent.

Just so we are on the same page regarding the chart posted below, here is what you need to know:

I have researched and indexed player stats relative to the relevant positional league average, meaning that a score of 100 is average for each player at his respective position. Anything less than 100 is lower than the average (in red), and anything greater than 100 is higher than the average (in green). Usage and %Ast do not have assigned colors since they are both more value-neutral, or perhaps more accurately, they require a case-by-case assessment.

Ex: Beno Udrih had a TS% of 58.8 in 2010-11, and the average TS % for all PGs for the season was 53.3... (58.8 / 53.3)*100 = an index score of 110. This means Udrih had a TS% 10% higher than an average PG in 2010-11.

In this edition I have juxtaposed the current positional groups from the Bucks' roster with some key free agent names at SF, PF and C. Money wouldn't be well spent by the organization if they acquired players who either duplicated production already on the roster or make some small incremental addition to a team strength. The value will come for the 2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks if they can sign or acquire players that mitigate their greatest deficiencies.

To keep it fairly simple, the Bucks need to find: (1) someone who is an efficient (above-average) shooter, (2) a three-point specialist to spread the floor and (3) someone who can score effectively at the rim and from 3-9 ft. The Bucks are also in a spot where they just need a legitimate big body to stick at C to spread the minute load and keep Andrew Bogut fresh in the compressed schedule.

Can any of these needs be met by reasonably inexpensive players on the market in 2011? Are there any backup centers that would really be any better than just sliding Drew Gooden over in times of need? Let's take a look...

Advanced Stats Glossary (The unklchuk special)
True Shooting Percentage (TS%)- A player's shooting percentage weighted to account for free throws and 3-pointers. An accurate expression of shooting efficiency. Usage Rate (USG) - the number of possessions a player uses during his time on the floor.
Percentage of FGs Assisted (% AST) - The percentage of a player's total made field goals that are assisted by a teammate. Free Throw Attempts per Field Goal Attempts (FTA/FGA): Measures how well a player draws shooting fouls and gets to the free throw line relative to the shots they take.
Total Rebound Rate (TRR): The percentage of total available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor. Assist Rate (AR): the percentage of a player's possessions that ends in an assist.
Offensive Rebound Rate (ORR): The percentage of total available offensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor. Turnover Rate (TOR) - the percentage of a player's possessions that end in a turnover.
Defensive Rebound Rate (DRR): The percentage of total available defensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor.

1. Jeff Green (SF/PF) - 6'9" | 25 yrs old | Restricted | 2011: 13.3 pts, 4.8 reb in 32 min/gm |12.9 PER

I have no illusions that Jeff Green is a good player, and it turns out he might be a fairly crappy player. The Oklahoma City Thunder certainly didn't seem to miss him last season, and as you can see above, his rebounding numbers are nothing short of embarrassing. However, the Bucks are operating from a position of strength with their team rebounding, so he might be able to fit in without affecting the team in that respect. Green was extended a $5.9 million qualifying offer by the Celtics back in July, giving the team the right to match any offer sheets during the free agency period, but he is still young and decidedly available either by offer sheet or sign-and-trade. The Bucks have their own trade chip in Ersan Ilyasova, so if Hammond wanted to bet on pedigree (Green was drafted 5th overall in the 2007 draft) they could take a look at Green.

He has some shooting range, and might really be an over-sized SF who has been incorrectly used as a PF for the majority of his career, but there is also a developing narrative they Green might just be bad at basketball. Consider an excerpt from a breakdown of Green's game when he was still playing for the Thunder in 2011:

Maybe he's doing the little things that helps teams win, then? Well, not exactly, at least when it comes to things that help his team on the court. Only one of the Thunder's best three lineups that has played at least 60 minutes together this season includes Green in it. Last year, the Thunder's top two lineups that played at least 60 minutes together also didn't include Green. Green's two-year adjusted plus/minus, which accounts for how well your team does with you on the court as compared to with you off it, adjusted for quality of competition, is an abysmal -8.11. In general, the Thunder have been average with Green out there and spectacular with him on the bench. Plus/minus data is noisy, but this is Year 2 of a trend.

It depends on whether Celtics' GM Danny Ainge is trying to get a player that is more fit for defending opposing PFs (Ilyasova is actually a pretty solid positional defenders and rebounder), but if he is the Bucks should at least find out if Ersan gets the Cs excited at all.

2. Thaddeus Young (SF/PF) - 6'8" | 23 yrs old | Restricted | 2011: 12.7 pts, 5.3 reb in 26 min/gm |18.4 PER

Does Thaddeus Young belong on this list? Yes, but only because I really like him as a player and think the extra money it would take to outbid the 76ers would be well spent in the long-run. He played serious minutes as some type of hybrid PF for Philadelphia last season, but he seems best suited for a long career at SF given his skill set and ability to play in isolation. Sure his shooting numbers aren't exactly the stuff huge RFA offers are made of, but he is only 23 years old and already knows how to play efficiently by drawing fouls (see his TS%).

There is almost no way the Bucks seriously pursue this rising NBA talent, but if I had my way the Bucks would make a very competitive offer in an attempt to steal him away from a conference opponent. This is the type of player than will continue to get better and should be a starting SF for the next 5-7 years at the very least. The worst that could come of a competitive offer for his services is that the 76ers match it and commit a large chunk of money they can't really afford to spend. It won't happen, but I wish it would.

3. Carl Landry (SF/PF) - 6'9" | 28 yrs old | Unrestricted | 2011: 11.9 pts, 4.6 reb in 26 min/gm |14.8 PER

He played his high school ball at Milwaukee Vincent, so naturally he has been linked to the Bucks in free agency rumors early in the offseason, though the latest word is that the Bucks are not pursuing him. As an undersized PF, Landry has a stunningly effective post game that was well-refined going all the way back to his college career at Purdue. He's already 28 years old, so don't exactly expect to plug him in for the next decade if the Bucks sign him. In fact, there are serious questions as to whether Landry can ever truly be a starter with his lack of size. Here is what Tom Ziller had to say:

Landry is a pitiful defensive rebounder (there are many, many small forwards more likely to grab any given defensive rebound than Landry) and a powerful, effective scorer. Landry uses more possessions than average and converts them efficiently (career True Shooting percentage of .597). He's a sharp mid-range shooter, a fierce finisher and one of the toughest guys in the game.

But my God, he seriously cannot rebound. That itself makes it almost a necessity that he come off the bench, unless he's next to a ball vacuum like Dwight Howard.

4. Josh McRoberts (PF) - 6'10" | 24 yrs old | Unrestricted | 2011: 7.4 pts, 5.3 reb in 22 min/gm |16.0 PER

I feel like Josh McRoberts has been grossly misunderstood or under-appreciated by the majority of NBA fans, and here is my chance to prove it. Looking at how he compares to the field and the Bucks' roster above, what stands out is that McRoberts is both the most efficient shooter and the most effective passer of the entire bunch. At only 24-years old and with good size, I think McRoberts can be a legitimate starting PF in the NBA immediately upon signing. Best of all, I don't think he will cost much to get. I understand the Bucks have a logjam at PF at the moment, but if Ersan wants out and LRMAM is presented a huge offer sheet, I would LOVE for the Bucks to make a serious offer to bring McRoberts to Milwaukee.

If you think I'm crazy or otherwise aren't inclined to believe me for some reason, consider the following analysis from a serious Indiana Pacers fan:

His statistical profile from last season was not remarkable for any particular number, but for the versatility it represented. Per 36 minutes, McRoberts averaged 12.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.3 blocks. He also shot 54.7% from the floor, 73.9% from the free throw line, and 38.3% on three-pointers. Just six other players surpassed 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per 36 minutes last season. To find McRoberts on a list with Pau Gasol, Al Horford, Josh Smith, Tim Duncan, Kenyon Martin and DeMarcus Cousins is impressive on its own. Even more impressive is that McRoberts had the highest TS% of those seven players.

via Hickory-High. I'm telling you just so you can all say you knew before the rest of the league: don't sleep on Josh McRoberts. Now go tell your friends and sound smart later.

5. Kurt Thomas (PF) - 6'9" | 39 yrs old | Unrestricted | 2011: 4.1 pts, 5.8 reb in 23 min/gm |13.4 PER

We all know what Kurt Thomas brings, and we all know he is a Scott Skiles favorite. Sure he's now officially the oldest active player in the NBA after the retirement of Shaq, but the mid-range jumper ages like fine wine.

Instead of more analysis that rehashes what we already know, check out this very cool infographic on Google functionality.

6. Joel Przybilla (C) - 7'1" | 32 yrs old | Unrestricted | 2011: 1.8 pts, 4.0 reb in 14 min/gm |6.2 PER

Time had made me forget that either (a) he spells his name incorrectly, or (b) people pronounce his name incorrectly. Seriously, look at the spelling and try to make that come out of your mouth like you think it should sound. It's not quite the Favre debacle of spelling/pronunciation, but it's enough for me to take notice and pass it along. And honestly you might have to confront this reality on a regular basis, because this looks like a pretty reasonable backup center option.

He is cheap, he is fond of Milwaukee, and he cares a lot more about defense than he does offense. Sounds like a Skiles guy to me. Unfortunately, he doesn't do much to bring value on offense, so in many ways he would be just another big body that rebounds well and can take some punishment away from Andrew Bogut. The limiting factor with Przybilla for nearly half a decade has been injuries, so even if he is completely healthy (which is not a given by any means) I'm not really sure he would be an ideal to backup Bogut.

If you just want a big body that can grab a couple rebounds and play positional defense in the lane, why not either grab a younger player without an injury history or just slide Drew Gooden over and let him stretch opposing centers/shot-blockers away from the paint? Why pay for the name if it might just be a name at this point? When someone expresses interest in Przybilla, I have no doubt the phrase "pending he passes a physical examination by team doctors" will be a very meaningful condition related to any potential signing.

7. Kwame Brown (C) - 6'11" | 29 yrs old | Unrestricted | 2011: 7.9 pts, 6.8 reb in 26 min/gm |12.8 PER

Kwame Brown was drafted over a decade ago, but his bustiness still feels so fresh, doesn't it? He never came anywhere close to meeting the expectations of his draft position, but he could easily meet the expectations of backup NBA center...he's been doing that damn near his whole career. He's big, he dunks and he rebounds. Younger than Joel Przybilla? Check. Less significant injury history than Przybilla? Check. Fairly cheap big body that could take some pressure off Andrew Bogut by filling in for 10-12 minutes a night? Check.

He's the type of cheaper option I would prefer over big Joel if the Bucks insist on going the 'anonymous large man with limited skills who probably isn't much of an upgrade over Drew Gooden, if at all' for backup center route.

If you would like more information on the 2011 free agent group, you should check out Tom Ziller's full list of restricted and unrestricted free agents and his preliminary breakdown of the field. For constant updates on signings, trades, rumors and offers, be sure to visit the NBA rumor StoryStream.

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