After a barrage of offseason moves, it'd be easy to assume the future of the Milwaukee Bucks was in a state of limbo. With Larry Sanders and John Henson bolstering the frontcourt, though, the franchise is in good hands.
Both youngsters are still coming into their own and have a lot of growing to do. However, they each possess an excellent, well-rounded skill set which allows them to have an impact on both ends of the court.
Having talent is certainly one way of ensuring future success, but what specifics make these two so invaluable to the franchise moving down the line?
Rare, Physical Specimens with Raw Talent
Finding two big men with the physical characteristics Sanders and Henson possess is a rather remarkable feat.
Sanders (6'11", 235 pounds) and Henson (6'11", 220 pounds) both have a great combination of size and length. In fact, it's their length that's fascinating.
With an enormous 7-foot-7 wingspan (per NBADraft.net), it's easy to see why Sanders emerged as one of the league's elite shot-blockers in 2012-13. Once he learns how to better position himself and rotate on time, he'll progress even further in that category as well.
From a physically-gifted standpoint, Henson is no slouch either.
According to NBADraft.net, his wingspan measures 7'4", and though his average of 0.7 blocks during his rookie season isn't anything to write home about, he did only play 13.1 minutes per game.
Doing the math, that's nearly 15 feet of arms defending the paint.
Recently, WISN-TV's Brady Headington tweeted out this awesome picture of Sanders, Henson and rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo:
Even if you subtract Antetokounmpo from the equation, it's safe to say the Bucks have some serious length in the interior.
Offensively, both Sanders and Henson are works in progress. However, that's often the case with players with similar builds and skill sets.
As long as they continue to develop their presence in the post and put forth effort on the defensive end, the Bucks will have their future frontcourt firmly in place.
Access to Good Coaching
Given that Sanders and Henson are naturally gifted on defense, a coach who can help them improve on the offensive end is something they could benefit from.
Obviously, Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan weren't exactly offensive gurus.
Even though much of Larry Drew's focus will be aimed at the team's defense due to the struggles of last season, he'll be able to help the two big men on offense.
Drew took over the team for the 2010-11 season. Below are the numbers of the three aforementioned players from the year prior to his arrival through his departure:
|Player||2009-10 (Prior to Drew)||2010-11||2011-12||2012-13|
|Josh Smith||15.7 PPG||16.5 PPG||18.8 PPG||17.5 PPG|
|Al Horford||14.2 PPG||15.3 PPG||12.4 PPG (played only 11 games)||17.4 PPG|
|Jeff Teague||3.2 PPG||5.2 PPG||12.6 PPG||14.6 PPG|
While he can't take credit for all of that, he certainly played a role.
Drew's creativity on offense was beneficial to players like Horford and Smith. Often times he ran the pick and roll with those two, making it tough for opposing defenses, due to the unusual nature of two big men—both capable of shooting the jumper—out on the perimeter.
Even if it didn't always work, he's not afraid to experiment.
Boylan and Skiles were both bland when it came to creating something offensively. Some of that can be attributed to the players they had.
Having players like Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings doesn't allow a coach to do much other than run his big men out to set ball screens.
Look for Drew to involve Sanders and Henson more in the game plan.
Developing an interior presence on offense will further cement the two young, big men as the franchise's main building blocks.
Personality and Accessibility
The success of a player is rarely determined by his personality off the court, but it never hurts to connect with fans while giving off a positive attitude.
Each of them are active on Twitter and seem to communicate with fans and remain active in the Milwaukee community on a routine basis.
You'll find Henson asking for meal suggestions on a frequent basis:
Best Alfredo in Milwaukee ?! I need that.— John Henson (@_John_Henson_) September 17, 2013
Meanwhile, Sanders isn't afraid to let fans know how he feels:
Man I love my fans..— Nappy G. (@LarrySanders) August 23, 2013
These things might seem small in the grand scheme of things, but they add up and the fanbase typically eats it up.
It seems as though Sanders and Henson both are very personable and easy to coach. The former had problems controlling his temper last season, but that's something which can be worked on.
Loose cannons like DeMarcus Cousins are bad for a team environment, but Sanders hasn't come close to approaching that level.
In fact, it seems his issues stem from being overly passionate and not knowing when to restrain himself.
But both players are showing the right attitude, which can go a long way in establishing one's career. If they can continue to do so, while improving their on-court skills, the Bucks have two young men who will be a big part of the franchise for years to come.