When you think of young, talented NBA teams you probably don’t name the Milwaukee Bucks. You probably think of Oklahoma City or the Philadelphia 76ers, both of whom have young pieces that they can build around for years to come. But if you take a look at the Bucks roster, they too can be seen as young team on the rise. They have young talents like John Henson, Doron Lamb and Brandon Jennings, who should be solid players for years to come. Plus, they also have Monta Ellis; a dynamic scoring guard that with Jennings gives the Bucks a dangerous one-two scoring punch.
What they do not have is a legitimate superstar. They are like the Atlanta Hawks of recent years in that they have lots of good players, but no one elite enough to take them to the next level. Look at Hawks: they had solid players in Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams that took them to the playoffs every year. Johnson, who came to Atlanta as a max free agent, was cast into the star role, but he didn’t fit because he wasn’t one. He is undoubtedly talented, but not suited to carry a team. Overall, that meant that Atlanta was going to be good, but never great. Milwaukee is on that same path. Jennings is good, but not great. Same with Ellis and Lamb.
The problem with finding superstars is that not many true ones exist. In the NBA today, the only ones that do are Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Others, like Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving, have the potential to, but we don’t know yet. One other, Derrick Rose, is coming off a major knee injury that could affect his speed. Assuming Rose is healthy, that would make legitimate super stars in a league of thirty teams. And noting that two of those players (James and Wade) play on the same team, the ratio of having a superstar isn’t all that good. Those statistics coupled with the Bucks being almost a playoff-caliber team means that it’s highly unlikely they will be able to draft one. And when is the last time you heard an NBA star was signing a max deal to play in Milwaukee?
I’m expecting Milwaukee to be solid next season. They should have no problem scoring with the Jennings-Ellis combo, and the rookie Lamb should only help. Center Samuel Dalembert, who came over in a trade with Houston, should give them a solid presence for what likely will be his only season as a Buck. I’ll go out and say that Milwaukee is the eighth seed in the East, putting them in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Things are looking up in Milwaukee, but the ceiling is limited unless they can get that ever-elusive super star.