Spotlighting and Breaking Down Milwaukee Bucks' Power Forward Position

Jordan RodewaldContributor IIAugust 28, 2013

The plethora of big men the Milwaukee Bucks have on their roster for 2013-14 means that competition for playing time at the power forward position could be fierce.

Despite only having two power forwards officially listed on the roster right now (per HoopsWorld), the team will likely use some of its other big men to play the 4 on occasion.

However, with the continued improvement of Ersan Ilyasova and the emergence of John Henson, there isn't a whole lot of opportunity. In fact, those competing for minutes will be doing so for very limited playing time.

Nonetheless, having bodies never hurts.

Which players will step up and capture more minutes? And if they do, what kind of production can be expected?


Starter: Ersan Ilyasova

Barring an injury, Ersan Ilyasova will be the team's starting power forward—just as he's been the past several years—to begin the 2013-14 season.

Unlike the past, though, Ilyasova should see an expanded role when it comes to his involvement in the offensive game plan.

With Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis no longer with the team, someone will need to step up and fill the scoring void left.

The acquisitions of O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight earlier this summer, and the emergence of John Henson, should help fill that hole some. However, Ilyasova is one of the team's most versatile and efficient players, making it important for him to pick up some of that slack.

The past two seasons have seen him average 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and a sizzling 44.8 percent from three-point territory.

Even more impressive was his true shooting percentage of 55.2.

During that time, Ilyasova took just 10.5 attempts per game in 27.6 minutes of playing time.

With lack of depth at small forward—where he could see some time—both of those numbers will likely increase, which should lead to better production.

This will especially be true if he has been able to work on his post game over the summer, as it's the one area of his game which would significantly benefit from practice.

It'd also be nice to see him take his defender off the dribble more frequently, especially considering he usually has an advantage in quickness against most other power forwards.

Still, Ilyasova should be featured more in head coach Larry Drew's offense, given the fact that the offense would be so heavily catered to two players—Ellis and Jennings—who demanded the ball be in their hands.

2013-14 Forecast: 15.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 34.6 MPG


Backup: John Henson

Second-year player John Henson is looking to build on the success he captured during his rookie season with the Bucks, and he'll have more of an opportunity to do so this season.

His averages of 6.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 0.7 blocks from a year ago don't look all that impressive on paper. But those numbers only tell half of the story.

Playing sporadically throughout the year, it was hard for Henson to get into a solid rhythm. However, during nine games in April he averaged 9.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.7 blocks during 21.1 minutes of playing time.

With that solid run and a fantastic showing in the Las Vegas Summer League (14.7 PPG, 13.7 RPG, 3.0 BPG), he'll certainly see more minutes thrown his way in 2013-14.

Typically with young players, improvement needs to be made in areas that fall under the category of fundamentals. For Henson, this still holds true but not nearly as much.

Last season he showed off an impressive array of footwork and post moves and, from that standpoint, looked like a veteran. Not every player his age can step onto the floor in their rookie year and show the patience and composure he did.

When he got touches, he didn't panic. He took his time, analyzed the situation, and made decisions accordingly. Often times rookies will rush into an errant shot or force a pass somewhere they shouldn't.

That's not to say there's no room for improvements, though.

Henson could stand to see some improvements from a strength standpoint. He'll never be a physically imposing player, but adding some muscle will prevent him from getting pushed around by opponents.

Additionally, Henson shot 48.2 percent during his rookie campaign. While that's not bad, someone with his size and skill set should at least be above 50 percent. However, an offseason spent working on touch around the rim would be enough to raise that a few percentage points.

It's hard to predict what Henson will accomplish this year. The sky is the limit, but how the Bucks shuffle Ilyasova in and out of the lineup will have a big impact.

2013-14 Forecast: 10.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 26.4 MPG


Reserve: Ekpe Udoh

One player who's not listed as a power forward (according to HoopsWorld) who will almost certainly see minutes at the position is Ekpe Udoh.

He played decently in very limited minutes last year and should probably experience similar results this season.

Averaging 4.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 1.1 blocks in 17.3 minutes, Udoh provided a decent spark off the bench for the Bucks.

While he's not a player who will put up a huge stat line on regular occurrences, his hustle and relentlessness on the boards and defense are invaluable. This becomes especially true when Larry Sanders gets into foul trouble.

With Henson's emergence, it's not likely that Udoh will see a great deal of increases in his stat line from a numbers and minutes standpoint unless he worked hard this summer to improve some of his deficiencies.

If he converts his shots at a much higher percentage and limits the numbers of times he commits a foul, he might have more value than he previously did.

Regardless, he'll provide the Bucks with another body off the bench and come up with key plays at least a handful of times throughout the year.

2013-14 Forecast: 4.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.2 BPG, 18.6 MPG


Others Who Might See Minutes

Ilyasova, Henson and Udoh will be the core trio in terms of getting the most minutes at power forward, but depending on how Drew feels the team matches up, a few others could slide into the slot on rare occasion.

For example, if he decides to throw a lineup with a lot of size onto the court, Sanders or Zaza Pachulia may slide into the 4-spot with Ilyasova moving to small forward.

It's hard to imagine that lineup being used with any amount of frequency, but it is something that could be seen throughout the course of the season. The same goes for any big lineup involving the likes of Miroslav Raduljica and Viacheslav Kravtsov.

Ultimately, though, it boils down to Ilyasova, Henson and Udoh.

Most of the available minutes will be given to Ilyasova and Henson with Udoh grabbing onto any extra time that might be available.

Overall, the power forward for the Bucks is one of the stronger areas on the roster with Ilyasova and Henson both providing good production.

Barring injury, it looks as though the team will be strong in the frontcourt.


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