Believe me, there was no way in you know what before the season that you could convince me I’d actually be giving this kid a grade. Giannis’ game was so raw to me that I considered him a buried bench player with a d-league stint for most of his first season. Basically, I was expecting this grade to be incomplete. Well, hey, he showed some unreal potential and skill that I never thought I’d see. Antetokounmpo played in 77 games this year and made 23 (!) starts. Every game he made a “wow” play. Whether that was from blocking a shot, throwing down a ridiculous dunk, or doing things like going coast-to-coast in just three steps. He gave himself a D-minus, but he’s being hard on himself.
Adrien provided the Bucks with their most physical presence inside for the season. After playing sparingly with Charlotte for half the season, he saw increased minutes in Milwaukee and proved to be a valuable force. Adrien battled inside and often got into it with opposing players in the post, but that’s what this team needed, honestly. The trade sending him to Milwaukee might’ve been the best thing to happen to him.
A tearful homecoming in Racine for the Wisconsin native quickly went sour after Butler clearly became displeased with playing time at the midway point. While with Milwaukee, Caron served as the team’s leader in a youthful locker room and averaged 11 points in 34 games. Milwaukee then waived the veteran he then signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Delfino didn’t play in a single game this season due to a foot fracture.
John Henson subliminally got a smack to his face this season. As one of the “young core pieces” for the franchise going forward, Henson mostly sat on the bench in his second season behind Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Adrien, and an injury nagged Ersan Ilyasova. This season Henson averaged 11.1 points and pulled down 7.1 rebounds per game. Sadly, Henson shot a putrid 51% this season at the line. You know the potential is there with more playing time, but he needs to get stronger, too. That should definitely be one of his goals this offseason.
To Ersan’s credit, he was never healthy this entire season as he dealt with a troublesome ankle injury. Ilyasova shot a career low 28.2% from three point range and only played in 55 games. It’s just too bad that the team decided to shut him down late in the season instead of earlier.
Just three minutes into his first season in Milwaukee, Brandon Knight sustained a hamstring injury in New York that kept him out for the next three games. For the most part, that ended up being one of the minimal negatives for him going forward. Knight was one of the few constants for the squad on the offensive side. He did struggle with turnovers, but benefited playing alongside Nate Wolters and veteran Ramon Sessions. At the end of the season, he averaged 17.9 points (31 in the finale against the Hawks), and 4.9 assists. Both of which were career-highs. Even though he shot just 32% from three, he improved from the field making 42% of his attempts.
The Bucks signed Mayo to a three-year, $24 million deal last offseason, and he was expected to be the replacement for Monta Ellis in the frontcourt. Well, that lasted for only a short period before adding a bit too much mayo near the holiday season. And best believe opposing team’s and play-by-play crews took note of it, along with beat writers. After the conditioning issues, he came down with a pretty bad flu and fell out of favor in the rotation going forward. On March 24 against the Los Angeles Clippers, he sprained his ankle and missed the last 11 games of the season.
Middleton was another constant like Brandon Knight for Milwaukee this season. He appeared in every single game (the only player on the squad to do so) and showcased good shooting ability. His positive first season in Milwaukee helped John Hammond in favor when examining the Brandon Jennings swap from last summer. Overall, despite a shooting slump and benching, he produced a pretty solid season in Milwaukee.
Neal left a championship-caliber organization in San Antonio and decided to sign with Milwaukee hoping for an increased role. Welp, nothing like that happened, at all. Before his locker room spat with Larry Sanders in Phoenix, Neal pouted and attempted shots as if the rest of his teammates were invisible. The signing was just a bad fit from the start. I was there when he first talked to the media in Milwaukee, dang, that feels like just yesterday.
Early this season, Zaza missed time (28 games) due to a fractured foot. He played under Larry Drew in Atlanta and provided leadership in the locker room for his team in Milwaukee all season. With more athletic big men in the league, Pachulia struggled defensively. On the other end, he still passed the ball very sound around the basket and shot well from the free throw line. A fair season overall, I’d say.
Raduljica appeared in only 48 games this season and showed some potential with his 7’0, 250 pound frame. Yet he’s still very raw as a rookie player adapting to the NBA game at age 26.
Luke started all 82 games for the Timberwolves in 2012-’13, and was then dealt to Milwaukee. Struggling with a back injury during his time in Milwaukee, he still managed to make a fair amount of starts for the Bucks. The team then dealt him at the deadline to Charlotte with Gary Neal.
Picture the ideal season a player is supposed to have after signing a new contract. Now picture the exact opposite of that, because that’s what Larry Sanders had. I’ve only been on the earth for 21 years, but man, Sanders had one of the worst life-after-getting-paid seasons in professional sports. From the bar fight, to the fracturing of his right orbital bone, to the weed, it’s been bad. He dropped the ball this season after his new deal and USA basketball invite. Right now, he has to earn the respect of a lot of fans back. A quite offseason and improved 2014-’15 could do that, but we’ll see.
With Caron Butler leaving to Oklahoma City, Sessions brought a positive veteran vibe to a young team searching for an identity. He was headed towards the playoffs with the Bobcats but then unfortunately went to the other side of spectrum in Milwaukee. Still, Sessions played well and provided what the Bucks acquired him for. In 28 games, he averaged 15.8 points and gave out 4.8 assists per game.
Ekpe was supposed to be a solid contributor for Milwaukee off the bench, but a knee injury bothered him for the entire season, making him a non-factor. His rookie deal is up, and most likely won’t return to the team next season.
Wolters exceeded the expectations most people had for him. Known for scoring at South Dakota State, he played a different role and attacked the rim well while operating the floor smoothly alongside Brandon Knight. It wasn’t an easy first season for him, though. On his first night against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, Wolters played 30 minutes right off the bat. Then, coach Larry Drew didn’t play him during the season for a very strange and unknown reason. Then, suddenly, Wolters returned to the floor and started January 31 in Orlando against the Magic. He stayed in the starting lineup until fracturing his hand against the Golden State Warriors, ending his rookie season. The most impressive stat for Nate is that he had an assist to turnover ratio of 3.28 to 1.
Wright played on a pair of 10-day contracts before the Bucks eventually signed him to a two-year non-guaranteed deal.