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Bucks' Offseason Wish List: Part 1

You've heard of "Christmas in July"? It's definitely a thing, and it might be for the Bucks. Everyone wants something, and some fans may get exactly what they want in the summer; if you want Santa to stop by Milwaukee this summer, you better have a wish list ready. As the playoffs move along and the Bucks' offseason starts, we want you (yes, you!) to tell us what you're looking for!

The Milwaukee Bucks are a team on the rise. After improving from a franchise-worst fifteen wins to forty-one wins and a playoff berth in the span of a year, there's a lot to be excited about. But even with potential stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker and a talented coach like Jason Kidd, fans are more interested in the team's recent success becoming a regular occurrence.

The Bucks are a good team...but they're not that good. Not yet. To take it to the next level, the franchise must both continue to develop players on the roster and bring in new faces that help take the team over the edge. With the rebuild still ongoing, it's hard to figure what the team will do next.

To try and explore what the future may hold, we ought to figure out what we actually want. That's where you come in. What kind of player do you think will help push the Bucks to the next level? What weakness on the roster do you want shored up? Is there a guy out there who might be the perfect piece to add to our puzzle? Let's talk about it!

* * *

First off, I want to look at how the team performed statistically during the 2014-15 season, specifically looking at what helped the team win and what kept them from winning. The chart below has some of the key advanced statistics of the team's performance in wins and losses (with the team's league rank in parentheses) and the differential between wins and losses, all pulled from the overhauled and very intuitive stats page.

In Wins

In Losses

Differential (W vs. L)


103.3 (29)

97.8 (13)



92.1 (2)

106.5 (5)


AST Ratio

18.6 (9)

17.2 (5)


TO Ratio

17.9 (30)

16.5 (25)



25.4 (18)

25.3 (12)



74.7 (17)

71.8 (27)



55.8% (18)

51.4% (9)



96.61 (11)

96.39 (15)


Opp TO Ratio

19.0 (1)

16.4 (2)


Pts off TO

21.1 (1)

17.2 (4)


Overall, this table paints the picture of a team that is legitimately great at a few things, but is limited in other areas of the game and struggles with consistency. The differentials of these stats between wins and losses helps to show how closely the Bucks played all of their opponents; of their 41 losses, only in 16 contests were the Bucks outscored by 11 or more.

Win or lose, the Bucks were remarkably adept at two things: creating/capitalizing off of turnovers (which fueled their top defense) and sharing the ball on offense. This is in no small part due to the length of the Bucks' wings and the unselfishness of the entire roster. While both Brandon Knight and Michael Carter-Williams have been accused of playing selfishly at times, they didn't markedly detract from the team-first approach to the offense.

Unsurprisingly, the Bucks were horrid at controlling the ball on offense and were a poor rebounding team. Again, Brandon Knight and Michael-Carter Williams may shoulder a lot of the responsibility for the giveaways, but it's important to remember that only Jared Dudley, Khris Middleton, and Ersan Ilyasova had individual TO Ratios under the 10.0 mark. Overall, everybody on the team was sloppy, whether it was poor passing, poor dribbling, or offensive fouls. The rebounding is easier to understand; MCW and Giannis are probably the only overall plus-rebounders on the team relative to position, though it's worth noting that the Bucks did improve notably after the all-star break (6th in OREB% and 14th in DREB% vs. 19th and 28th, respectively before the break).

Something interesting I found in the W/L differentials was how the Bucks' pace wasn't ever all that fast, considering all of the turnovers they generated. I would suppose that the Bucks' inability to rebound the basketball on defense would negate the advantage created by those turnovers, but it seems that the team's dedication to sharing the ball in the half-court led to them running the shot clock lower than average before putting up an attempt. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends largely on context.

Another eyebrow-raiser was the wide range for defensive rating between wins and losses; even though their defense was still top-5 relative to the rest of the teams in the league, their DefRtg in losses was over 14 points worse than it was in wins, which is a huge swing in consistency. I guess when the Bucks' defense was on, it was on, and led them to win games, and when their defense wasn't, they weren't talented enough at other parts of the game to make up for that variation.

* * *

Next, I want some establish some assumptions and guidelines about the roster itself, to try and avoid over-discussing matters that are considered in other posts:

  1. Khris Middleton (restricted free agent) will be extended to a multi-year deal. For how much? We could use the previously reported estimate of 4 years/$40m, evenly distributed to $10m/year...but it's likely he gets a deal worth more than that (note: the most another team will be able to offer him is four years and roughly $67 million). Not a guarantee, of course...but he's staying in Milwaukee for the purpose of this exercise.
  2. Jared Dudley (early termination option) may or may not exercise his ETO but will remain with the Bucks (as reported, Insider-only). He will either keep his existing deal or opt out for a multi-year deal to stay in Milwaukee, likely at around the same amount. This is also not guaranteed, but a safe bet.
  3. The timing of Middleton and Dudley's offseason decisions is important: refer to Frank's fantastic introductory offseason piece for important dates and NBA rules.
  4. With numbers 1 and 2 in mind, the Bucks' roster would stand at 15 players, including the non-guaranteed deals of Johnny O'Bryant III and Jorge Gutierrez but before accounting for the Bucks' first and second round picks. So something (trade, waiving non-guaranteed guys, etc) would have to give there. Still, during the offseason, the team's roster limit is 20 players, so we will not explore removing any players for the sake of roster size. Yet.
  5. Adding players through the draft and free agency is easier than via trade because of all the extra variables. We may dedicate a post to potential trade targets later, but for now let's stick with adding players through the draft and free agency. DraftExpress is a great resource for the draft and this page lists all of the potential free agents this summer and next.
  6. As always, contracts matter. If your wish list includes a specific player that may command a hefty salary, feel free to include how you'd plan to free up the money, but you may want to consider more realistic and affordable options. Included below is the BrewHoop salary cap outlook chart.

So now that we've got a decent statistical snapshot of how the team performed in wins and losses, and some basic guidelines to help define the parameters of this exercise, we can actually get into it. There's no wrong way to go through this; whether you want to bolster the strengths of the roster or reinforce a weakness, there are players out there who fit the bill.

* * *

Here's how this will work: If you have a specific type of player or skill set in mind, submit a new comment on this post that starts with "I want a (position) who can (thing(s) you want that player to do well)", and expand from there as much as you want. If you have an individual already in mind, mention him! If you have statistics you'd use as a benchmark, make sure to include them too.

After a week or so, I will comb through the comments and compile the different entries, and will explore the most popular suggestions in future posts. I'll be studying how the group of available players statistically stack up against one another in specific areas, decided by your comments. If someone posts a suggestion that matches what you want, go ahead and use the 'Rec' button; I will count any rec's on a parent comment as "votes" in favor of that topic.

Again, there's no wrong way to approach this! There are tons of players out there who have something to offer, but what exactly should the Bucks be looking for? I'll be sure to put my top wish in the comments, and I hope to see a lot of discussion about the different suggestions that will come up from the community. Stay tuned!