Is it time to start worrying about the Milwaukee Bucks?
Giannis and company have dropped seven of their last twelve contests, including a four-game skid when matched up against other top Eastern Conference squads and a near thirty-point loss to the bottom-feeding Hornets. Even wins have been concerning. The Bucks allowed a massive run to the Toronto Raptors at the end of regulation, capped off with a Gary Trent Jr. three-ball to force overtime. The Raptors had all the momentum on their side and likely would have walked away with a W had regulation been even a minute longer.
Struggles like this are uncharacteristic for a Bucks team that usually cruises through the regular season, and it has fans clamoring for a change. While you could point to the slew of injuries (namely to top-tier second-option Khris Middleton) and call for patience, it’s not an overreaction to say this roster needs an upgrade. That being said, today I’m breaking down my thoughts on some potential trade candidates for the 2021 champs.
Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott
Once Philadelphia’s consultation prize in the Jimmy Butler trade, Josh Richardson took quick pit stops in Dallas and Boston before ending up in the Alamo City with the Spurs. While in San Antonio, Richardson has been a reliable veteran presence on both ends for Coach Popovich. He’s connected on 38.8% of his triples with the Silver and Black and he’s also a skilled mid-range pull-up shooter. Milwaukee’s role players have vanished at times this year so adding a consistent wing who can hit shots and guard on the perimeter couldn’t hurt in the 3&D era.
Additionally, a deal could be put together to acquire Richardson’s teammate Doug McDermott. Dougie McBuckets is a career 40+% shooter from behind the arc and is a more versatile gunslinger than resident spot-up threats Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen. The latter has been criticized for only letting it fly when he’s wide open and Giannis needs willing shooters around him. McDermott’s ability to sprint off screens, quickly square up, and knock it down would also create more movement in an offense that sometimes relies on isolation too much.
Unfortunately, which both vets making upwards of $12 million annually, Milwaukee wouldn’t be able to match the salary of both without giving up a key bench piece like Bobby Portis or Joe Ingles. A package to get one or the other could look like Grayson Allen, Jordan Nwora, and two second-round picks.
Milwaukee’s roster is void of creation outside of the big three and that has become clear in Khris Middleton’s extended absence. Playoff basketball is a lot more grinded out than the regular season and much more time is spent in the half-court which makes it tough to play guys who can’t make something happen with the ball.
Twelfth-year two-guard Alec Burks is all about buckets and he does it efficiently. He’s averaging 14 points per contest on 46/45/81 splits, scorching the net from all three levels. He’s a lethal catch-and-shoot threat (95th percentile in C&S 3PT% via BBall Index) and can get his own with a flurry of pull-ups (86th percentile in Pull Up 3PT% also via BBall Index) which would make him a seamless fit off the pine for Coach Bud.
Despite their losing record, the Pistons are reportedly not willing to part ways with their vets unless it’s for a “tremendous” offer. To pry the man they call Houdini away from Motor City, Jon Horst would likely have to include one of his few first-round picks along with Grayson Allen.
Moving away from shot-making, another role the Bucks need filled is the hard-nosed defensive-minded forward (the P.J. Tucker type). While Jae Crowder is the popular name in that department, another option is Robert Covington of the Los Angeles Clippers. Covington has struggled to find a regular spot in Tyronn Lue’s ultra-deep bench unit and could be snagged for the low by another contender.
Covington, who made an All-Defensive team during his time with the 76ers, checks all the boxes for what Milwaukee needs at the four. He’s 6’7” with a 7’2” wingspan, he’s tough, and he’s switchable. He’s averaged 1+ steals and 1+ blocks in five different seasons and is always lurking in the passing lanes and on the help side. Offensively he’s as streaky as they come, but he matched his career-best success rate from three in the 2021-22 season. When he’s on he’s on (he knocked down 11 triples in a late-season matchup versus Milwaukee last year) and if he found some consistency from downtown Covington could play a significant part in a championship run.
As mentioned before, Covington’s market value has likely dropped along with his minutes, and buying low on him would be a smart low-risk, high-reward for the Bucks.
Opinions on Reddish at this point in his young career are incredibly polarized. Some still believe in the former lottery pick’s upside while others think he should be out of the league. His sporadic playing time this season with New York has made it tough to gauge just how good he is. That being said, taking a chance on him could be a worthwhile gamble for a Bucks team lacking young talent.
While shot creation and scoring were originally supposed to be his thing, performing well on the other end is now the key to seeing the court for Reddish. Doing exactly that is how he earned eight appearances in the starting lineup for the Knicks before returning to his spot on the end of the bench. He’s solid on the ball and also comes up with a lot of steals. Standing at 6’8” with a 7’1” wingspan, Reddish could patch the same hole the aforementioned Robert Covington would.
It wasn’t long ago that Reddish was playing big minutes for the Hawks in the Conference Finals. He still has a lot of potential and if Milwaukee’s developmental staff can unlock it he could be a starring member of the second leg of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s career.
So, those are five players I think the Milwaukee Bucks should take a look at as we approach the trade deadline. Which of those guys would you most like to see them trade for? Are there any other guys on your radar? Let me know on my Twitter, @thebenchmoblog. Thanks for reading and see you next time!