We kicked off our position-by-position breakdown of the Bucks' roster yesterday with the point guard position, and today we continue our positional overviews with a look at the Bucks' shooting guards:
As we took a closer look at shooting guards (and even to an extent, point guards), it became clear how the position-less Bucks will make this exercise quite difficult on the perimeter. Beside the Bucks' three well-paid centers, the rest of the roster is full of players that can be penciled in for minutes at multiple positions -- aside from possibly Rashad Vaughn, who is probably only really a shooting guard. But there's also a difference between being able to play multiple positions and being reliably good at them.
- Just how good is Khris Middleton? Earlier today, Sports Illustrated unveiled Players 31-50 on their list of the NBA's Top 100, with Giannis Antetokounmpo checking in at #48 and Middleton the highest rated Buck on the list at #39. (He was also listed as a small forward, which makes sense from afar, but not as this Bucks roster is constructed. More on that later.) The Top 30 players on the list have yet to be released, but, at the moment, it appears as though the Bucks' shooting guard will appear behind only four other shooting guards on the list (Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and James Harden). That rating puts him roughly into the Top Five Shooting Guard conversation we mentioned on the podcast, and deservedly so: Middleton ranked eighth among all shooting guards in both scoring and assists while ranking fourth in total RPM and second in offensive RPM. There are plenty of sexier options at shooting guard, but few as productive, well-rounded and stylistically malleable as Middleton.
- Should Middleton play any other position? According to Nylon Calculus' positional estimates from last season, Middleton played roughly 1000 of his 2800 total minutes at small forward. With the rest of the shooting guard options on the roster and the positional flexibility of some of the Bucks forwards, is there much reason for Middleton to play at a position other than shooting guard during this upcoming season? Are there lineups that make sense to include Middleton at a position other than shooting guard?
- Are the Bucks' second and third best options at shooting guards actually point guards? During our point guard conversation on Monday, we talked about the possibility of the Bucks' nominal point guards, Michael Carter-Williams and Matthew Dellavedova, playing shooting guard. Predictably that came up again in today's discussion, mainly because a) both Delly and MCW are big enough to guard either spot and b) they're probably better than anyone else the Bucks can bring off the bench at the two. If Middleton plays 30 minutes at shooting guard each night, how much time will there actually be left for guys like Malcolm Brogdon, Jason Terry, and Rashad Vaughn, especially with Delly and MCW likely cannibalizing minutes at both guard spots?
- Best of the rest? As most are well aware, Vaughn put together one of the worst rookie seasons among players allowed to play more than 500 minutes in their first season (and he actually played 1,000). Jason Terry is entering his 18th season. Malcolm Brogdon has yet to play a NBA game and rookies are typically bad basketball players. Tyler Ennis is a point guard, and not a consistent one. Will any of them claim the fourth guard spot, or will Kidd once again juggle all of them throughout the season?