Milwaukee Bucks: 3 Reasons a Jennings/Ellis Backcourt Won't Lead to Playoffs
Earlier this season, the Milwaukee Bucks opted to trade former first overall pick Andrew Bogut for former Warriors swingman Monta Ellis. With this, they paired two dynamic scorers together: Ellis and current Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings.
While these two players are an overwhelming offensive force, the Bucks might not actually be a better team with Ellis than with Bogut. I doubt this team will be able to make it to the playoffs and wouldn't be able to do much even if they managed to get in.
Here are three reasons why:
Lack of Size
One of the biggest reasons that a backcourt of Ellis and Jennings just flat-out won't work is because of the lack of size. Brandon Jennings is listed at 6'1" at point guard, and Monta Ellis is listed as a 6'3" shooting guard.
The biggest issue with this size discrepancy comes on the defensive end. At the point guard position, there are a new crop of strong, tall super-athletic players, and Brandon Jennings does not have the length and strength to match up with these guys.
At the shooting guard position, most NBA players are more in the 6'5" range. The players who are shorter than 6'5" typically have elite strength or athleticism, similar to Dwyane Wade. While two inches doesn't seem like that big of a deal, it really makes a difference defensively.
Both players have historically been below-average defenders for their position, and so putting them next to each other creates a sub-par defensive backcourt.
Lack of Ball Movement
Both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are elite scorers at their respective positions. This season, they combined to average almost 40 points per game. They both are able to flat-out put the ball in the basket at a high level.
The worry has to be that Ellis and Jennings will take away from each other, similar to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. I don't believe that they can overcome it. The Bucks will always be a team that is less than the sum of its parts.
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are both marquee players in this league, and will demand salaries that express that. Monta Ellis has a salary of $11 million a year for the next two years, and Brandon Jennings will need to sign an extension in the coming season.
Right now the Bucks' most pressing need is the frontcourt.
The Bucks lost their star center Andrew Bogut in the trade for Monta Ellis, and will likely not be able to find a center of the same caliber with two backcourt players taking up so much of their salary cap.
If the Bucks can't get a significant upgrade in their frontcourt, then they will not be able to make the playoffs.