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The Bucks' Most Valuable Asset: It's all Greek to MKE (yes, it's Giannis Antetokounmpo)

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Ronald Martinez

We're done! We're finally done!

We've been counting down every player on the Milwaukee Bucks' roster (plus a few draft picks) on our way to determining who (or what) is the most valuable asset on the roster. And now we have our answer!

Taking a convincing majority (61%) of the over 1700 votes in our last poll, Giannis Antetokounmpo earns the top spot on our list, while Jabari Parker finishes as runner-up for already the second time in his NBA career.

The Final, Authoritative Milwaukee Bucks Roster Asset Rankings

18. O.J. Mayo
17. Chris Wright
16. Zaza Pachulia
15. Jerryd Bayless
14. Johnny O`Bryant III
13. Ersan Ilyasova
12. Nate Wolters
11. Jared Dudley
10. Clippers' 2017 first-round pick
9. Kendall Marshall
8. Damien Inglis
7. Khris Middleton
6. John Henson
5. Larry Sanders
4. Brandon Knight
3. 2015 Unprotected First-Round Pick
2. Jabari Parker
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

So what pushed Giannis over the top? Familiarity, it seems, was the primary differentiator. The top of our list is full of young players with great potential, and no player embodied that ideal more last season than Antetokounmpo. So while Parker will begin his career with much higher fanfare and expectations (not to mention an extra year of team control on his contract), the good vibes Giannis brought to Milwaukee last year were still fresh enough in our minds to make the difference.

Is our mild favoritism justified? Perhaps, though we're still mostly speculating the same way we were prior to the draft, with only Las Vegas Summer League providing a bit more information. That short stretch of games definitely helped Giannis' case--the second-year pro generally looked like the Bucks' best player and showed off some surprisingly refined and developed skills. Nobody is worried about Jabari, but he's unlikely to step in and set the league on fire day one, while we've already seen Giannis affect games on many occasions.

Conventional thinking says Giannis has more potential on defense while Parker is the superior offensive talent. That might be a bit limiting to both players, particularly after seeing Giannis effectively run the team in Vegas. That preconception also plays to Giannis' benefit: we all had an idea of what he would bring to the roster, only to have him show things totally unexpected. Instead of completely reformulating our idea of him as a player, we optimistically thought, "Wow, he can do all this stuff too!" It's easy to view surprises in a positive light when expectations are low.

How about the entire list? A few posts back our own Oldresorter laid out a set of natural categorizations, or tiers, that developed somewhat organically in our list. Here's a general restatement of those categories with a few tweaks from me:

  1. Young players with varying levels of potential but little current value behind roster/trade filler.
  2. Older veterans at their ceiling or on the decline, generally with over-market contracts.
  3. Young players who might grow into role players.
  4. Players already established as role players.
  5. Vets with established levels of production and are/could be above-average starters or better.
  6. Young players with immense potential and some positive track record.
  7. Flat-out Stars (my addition).

The order of categories above is how I would arrange them from least-to-most valuable, with maybe a bit of flip-flopping depending on circumstances. So as you go through our value list, it's interesting to think about where each player fits in that categorical breakdown. Who looks ready to jump from a lower tier to a higher one? When building a roster, is it useful to search for opportunities to flip multiple assets from a lower tier into few from a higher one? When is/isn't this the case? Lots of fun questions to ponder.

So there you have it! Thanks to everyone for voting over and over again and for all the great discussion of the Bucks' roster in our comments.