Shake off that 86-day old dust that's collected on your Bucks jerseys, because Milwaukee basketball is back! The Bucks kick off their Vegas Summer League adventure tonight, their first of three games in the next four days before tournament seeding and play begin. Before we go any further, let's roll out the logistics so that nobody has any questions.
Who? Bucks and Cavs
Where? Cox Pavilion, Las Vegas, on NBA TV
When: Friday, 5 p.m. CT
With the NBA Champion Cavaliers being, y'know...champions and all, there isn't an urgent need to use Summer League as a tool to find roster additions. That lack of urgency shows in their roster, although rookie Kay Felder out of Oakland can flat out score and should be entertaining in this kind of environment. That being said, Summer League basketball is aggressively mediocre, and the Cavs roster suggests that they don't have plans to change that narrative this year.
The Bucks version of Summer League won't be stylistically much better than the Cavs, but there are a handful of players that figure to be at least interesting. You can find the full Bucks roster here.
Thon Maker easily headlines the group, and it's likely that this will be the first time an overwhelming majority of Bucks and even general basketball fans get to see Maker play actual live basketball. Not many people know what to expect from the 10th overall pick, but our own Frank did a good job of setting the stage in our roundtable discussion this morning.
"While summer league is an imperfect proxy for a rookie's long-term production, it's usually a red flag if a guy looks completely overwhelmed in Vegas, and Maker could calm a lot of the concerns over his age and lack of experience vs. top-flight competition by looking like a guy who's close to contributing for an NBA team.
So I want to see whether he can finish over guys, hold his own on the boards, protect the rim and look comfortable stepping outside a little. Considering the Bucks have long-term guys at the two, three and four spots, does he look capable of holding down the five at some point, or is he "just" a four? His future won't be written in the next 10 days, but let's hope the first chapter is a promising one."
Rashad Vaughn will return to his old stomping grounds at UNLV for a second year, looking to show signs of improvement from a forgettable rookie season. Vaughn averaged a tick over 17 points per game last Summer League, and is looking to build on that experience while also building up that confidence as a pro, per the Journal Sentinel.
"I'm more confident; I know what's coming," Vaughn said. "I'm just here helping the young guys out, even though I'm still one of the youngest. I'm just trying to get better."
"I want to come out and just win," Vaughn said. "Last year I played well (on the summer squad) but we didn't win too many games. I'm going to come out and try to be the leader for this team."
Malcolm Brogdon will also be making his pro debut, though that doesn't necessarily carry the flash that Maker or even Vaughn have. The 23 year-old rookie boasts more mature, understood talents to the court, but that doesn't mean he can't be effective. It also doesn't mean he won't struggle, so we'll see. It's all up in the air at this point and that's the fun of Summer League.
If looking for a player to root for outside of the obvious choices is your thing, perhaps the story of former UCLA and Georgetown big man Joshua Smith is your thing. One cool thing about Summer League is that anyone there has at least a shot at finding a contract, and maybe Smith is that guy this year.
Talent has never been the question for Smith. Great touch, passes well, 7-3 wingspan. Interested to see him in Vegas https://t.co/CuUQoVSaAw— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) July 8, 2016
The Bucks will play twice more in pool play, on Sunday and Monday. From there the teams will be re-seeded and are guaranteed at least two tournament games. Everything else you need to know about Vegas can be found here. Let the fun begin!