Wild Week Headlined by Jennings Sign and Trade
The Milwaukee Bucks made a flurry of moves over the past week that ranged from minor, signing Miroslav Raduljica to replace the waived Gustavo Ayón , to major, by completing a sign and trade shipping Brandon Jennings to Detroit in exchange for Brandon Knight. They also officially announce the signings of Gary Neal, Nate Wolters, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Here is a breakdown, from least to most significant in my opinion.
Raduljica is a 7′ 250 pound center from Serbia. He has played on their 2005 U-18 FIBA Euro, 2007 U-19 FIBA World, and 2008 U-20 FIBA World championship teams winning the tournament MVP in 2008 on the strength of 11 rebounds a game. He also played on their 2009 EuroBasket senior team that won a silver medal. Notably, he has never appeared on the senior team during a FIBA World Championships or Olympics. Considering Serbia is only currently 12th in the FIBA world rankings and his Turkish team Efes Pilsen loaned him both years he was under contract, we can guess he won’t be a major factor. He is likely another six fouls at the Center position.
Signing Antetokounmpo and Wolters
These signings are fairly minor, not for their impact on the team, but because the signing of draft picks is almost a forgone conclusion. This is not always the case with second round picks, but weighing the fact that the Bucks traded up for Wolters and that the Bucks reportedly rated Wolters in the mid-20′s, the signing was inevitable. Antetokounmpo will likely be the main backup small forward behind Carlos Delfino, unless another trade is in the works. This will allow him time to adjust to not only NBA basketball, but the move to Milwaukee and the riches that go along with being a first round pick. Though he has the potential to be a front line player, we as fans need to be patient with the 18 year old. Wolters is the exact opposite. He will likely slide right into the backup guard rotation with Luke Ridnour and Neal. He doesn’t have the same upside as Antetokoumpo, but second round stars are few and far between.
Neal figures to see large minutes as one of the top backup guards. His most useful skill is his ability to shoot from outside, knocking them down at just under 40% from behind the arc for his career. He does’t get to the rim all that much, less than 1 attempt per game, though he has been fairly effective on mid-range jumpers, which means he will probably be Aaron Rodger’s favorite Buck going forward. His M.O. is as a gunner prone to defensive lapses, but as his role will likely be the scorer on the bench unit, the Bucks could do much worse.
Trading Brandon’s with the Pistons
As mentioned the biggest move was swapping Jennings in a sign and trade from Knight, SF Khris Middleton, and C Viacheslav Kravtsov. As the roster is currently as 16, Kravtsov is the most likely man cut if another trade is not in the works(my guess would be Epke Udoh and Ish Smith for a small forward and a 2nd, but that is pure speculation). Middleton is a rotation forward who didn’t see a ton of time with Detroit, but shot well at the rim and from mid range, though in tiny samples. Knight, on the other hand, will get significant playing time. He is already an above average 3 point shooter, has point guard quickness, and is known as a gym rat. Unfortunately he has yet to show point guard instincts at the NBA level, struggling as the point man in the pick and roll (0.69 PPP, 20.6% TO). Per Zach Lowe of Grantland, this is because Knight doesn’t often make the right read, and even when he does is a touch late. He is also a very good defender, however, with the Pistons being 7.7 points/100 possessions better with Knight on the court per 82games.com. Unfortunately he is best known for this and this . I find that unfortunate, because it takes balls to attempt to step in front of a Deandre Jordan alley-opp or guard Kyrie Irving 1 on 1, but Sportscenter needs something for their anchors to gush over.
As far as Jennings, I find this trade quite sad. Not that he is gone, I think it was time for the Bucks to part with him, but because what his leaving represents. To me it represents wasted potential and the end of an era that never had a chance to get off the ground because of the horrific injury Andrew Bogut suffered against the Phoenix Suns late in the 2009-2010 season. I still remember how excited I was when the Bucks drafted Jennings. He was young, confident, and had the talent to back it up. His fast start in the league only intensified these feelings. I can still picture the 55 point game and having way too many people packed into a tiny Carroll University dorm room going nuts watching it. Unfortunately, his career never really developed from there. I don’t know if the attention got to his head or if the franchise simply asked too much of a 20 year old to be the man both on and off the court, but I do know the star play I saw in his future never came, at least not with the Bucks. He should find more success as the third or forth option for a Piston’s team that also completely revamped their roster. I still will never stop wondering about what may have been though.