The Milwaukee Bucks could very well post the best record in the NBA for a second straight season this year. Last season’s MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is leading the way for the a Bucks team that’s dominating the Eastern Conference once again. But will their current roster be enough when the postseason rolls around? We took a look at what kind of complimentary pieces Milwaukee should consider as the trade deadline approaches.
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Update: This is a question I’ve been pondering for a bit now. Does Milwaukee really need to force a trade at the deadline or should they stand pat with what they have? Ideally, the Bucks would like to add another high-end player to their Core 3 of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe. But that doesn’t seem feasible given the cap restraints.
So with that, is a depth move even going to make a difference for Milwaukee? Perhaps adding another big body or 3-and-D specialist will help in the playoffs, but the benches get short anyway. The Bucks have capable veteran guards in George Hill, Wes Matthews and Kyle Korver. Bledsoe is a lockdown defender, Giannis is a stopper, and they lack assets to get a move done. The Bucks are on top of the NBA and have lost three games since Nov. 10, I think they’ll be OK.
— Ben Zweiman
Update: Building on Depth
The Bucks are already one of the deepest teams in the NBA, but adding more pieces around Giannis, similar to the Matthews addition, can’t hurt their chances in the postseason. While adding a name like Paul would be a spectacular get, he’d be nearly impossible for Milwaukee to obtain. Paul is making $38.5 million this season, and will be paid roughly $40 million each of the next two seasons. It would take Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe to get a deal done from a cap perspective, which are two pieces the Bucks are unlikely to part with.
OKC is also making noise in the west, comfortably in the playoff field, and just 3.5 games back from home court in the first round. But Milwaukee does have Indiana’s 2020 first-rounder to toss in a deal if it wants to continue going all in on this season. J.J. Redick could be obtainable from New Orleans, and would likely cost a couple of role players along with some draft capital. Bogdan Bogdanovic is another name on an expiring deal in Sacramento that may not have as high a price tag as he once did. Both players would help out with SG depth.
— Julian Edlow
An Elite Playmaker
Part of what makes Antetokounmpo such a great player is the versatility he has at 6-11, but that doesn’t mean he needs to wear every hat. The “Greek Freak” accounts for a ridiculous amount of Milwaukee’s offensive production. He’s evolved into a point forward who can take the ball from baseline to baseline as a primary ball handler. Antetokounmpo can get his own shot and his gravity opens up space for shooters around him. But his potential could be maximized by a player who can pass him into scoring positions.
One name that comes to mind is Chris Paul, who is one of the greatest passers ever and has proven he’s not washed up just yet since being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s averaging 16.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game on a team that gives two other point guards heavy minutes. Paul was rumored to be interested in joining Milwaukee over the offseason, but talk of potential deals for him have fallen silent. His ability has helped kept a Thunder team that appeared to be rebuilding in the playoff hunt. Just think about what he could do on a title contender with two All-Stars alongside him.
An Upgrade at Shooting Guard
Milwaukee signed the highly sought after Wesley Matthews for the league minimum over the offseason, and it probably expected to get a little more out of him. Matthews is averaging a career-low 7.7 points per game and his shooting fewer 3-pointers per contest (2) than he ever has. This is concerning to see from a 3-and-D player. When Antetokounmpo is your centerpiece, you need floor spacing. Milwaukee should look into investing in a more ready and willing shooter to fit its offensive philosophy. There’s a large pool of candidates to consider.