Milwaukee Bucks Power Rankings: Rating Every Player After First 6 Weeks
Ranking players on a team that has been riddled with injuries and inconsistent play is no easy task, and that's especially true when discussing the first six weeks of the 2013-14 season for the Milwaukee Bucks.
After an abundance of offseason moves that were supposed to help build on last season's playoff run, winning isn't something this team has grown accustom to.
In fact, notching a win has been downright elusive.
However, hiding amid all of the losses have been some bright spots that cannot be ignored.
O.J. Mayo—despite inconsistency—is scoring, Nate Wolters is playing like a poised veteran, Khris Middleton is providing more than expected, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown plenty of positives during the minutes he has been given.
With the pros come cons, though.
Rankings are in a constant state of flux, but how do the Bucks stack up so far?
All stats provided by Basketball-Reference and current through Tuesday, Dec. 3.
15. Carlos Delfino
Street clothes have been the attire of choice for Delfino during the 2013-14 season, and according to Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel, he will likely be spending the rest of the year sidelined.
Delfino would have been a solid role player off the bench, and his injury definitely hurts the team's depth. It's also painful to be paying a player $3.2 million to be nothing more than a cheerleader.
Hopefully, he'll be able to get back on the court in 2014-15.
14. Miroslav Raduljica
No one figured the 25-year-old big man from Serbia would be a regular part of the team's rotation, but early injuries to Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova seemed to open the door a bit.
However, Raduljica has appeared in just six games and hasn't provided much of anything from a statistical standpoint other than averaging 1.5 fouls in 8.3 minutes of playing time.
It's clear he has a lot of work to do before becoming a player who head coach Larry Drew can consistently throw onto the floor.
13. Larry Sanders
Despite not finding himself at the very bottom of these rankings, Sanders is easily the biggest disappointment thus far in 2013-14.
After cashing in on a four-year, $44 million extension during the summer, the shot-blocking extraordinaire has appeared in just three games so far before injuring his right thumb, allegedly during a bar fight, per Gardner.
Prior to that, the big man was averaging just 2.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 17.3 minutes of playing time. The limited playing time had a lot to do with the 3.0 fouls per game he was committing.
Hopefully, when he returns he can remind Bucks fans why he was given a big extension.
12. Luke Ridnour
Prior to the start of the season, most probably pinned Ridnour as the backup point guard to Brandon Knight. Due to an injury, poor play and the emergence of Nate Wolters, though, Ridnour's role has been limited.
The veteran spent three season providing the Minnesota Timberwolves with solid play and was expected to do the same in Milwaukee. Through the early stretch, though, he has been everything but solid.
Averaging 3.4 assists to go along with 4.7 points, he's doing a relatively solid job of distributing the ball. However, shooting only 32.8 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three-point land, Ridnour hasn't exactly provided efficient scoring.
With Wolters playing better and Knight healthy, Ridnour's value may continue to decline.
11. Ekpe Udoh
So far, Udoh has provided the Bucks with what they probably expected him to.
Making the most of his minutes, he's providing the team with solid rebounding and is making the most of his scoring opportunities by averaging 5.2 points—which is the second highest of his career.
He's not going to wow anyone from a statistical standpoint, but Udoh remains a good option off the bench. He'll provide the team with hustle, defense and the willingness to get after it in the post.
10. Zaza Pachulia
Originally slated a spot higher, Zaza Pachulia finds himself rounding out the top 10 in these early rankings.
In 26.4 minutes per game, he's providing the Bucks with exactly what they expected to get from him when they signed him during the offseason—albeit at a steep price of $5.2 million.
Averaging 7.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists, though, Pachulia is providing the team with adequate production despite shooting a career-low 36.9 percent from the floor.
He should continue to see consistent minutes in Sanders' absence and, if he can improve on his touch, should see a rise in his scoring production as well.
Not only that, but Pachulia also provides a relatively inexperienced team with that always-valuable veteran grit.
9. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Despite seeing limited playing time, Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown signs of being further along in his development than yours truly initially thought.
Appearing in 12 games, the 18-year-old Greek is averaging 5.2 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting an excellent 50 percent from the floor and an equally impressive 46.2 percent from three-point land.
In fact, just recently, the youngster showed just what kind of impact he can make at both ends of the floor when he blocked the layup attempt of Boston Celtics guard Jordan Crawford, sprinted down the floor and finished with a thundering one-handed dunk.
With that kind of hustle and willingness to get after it on offense and defense, it's hard not to like this kid's future.
8. Ersan Ilyasova
With Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis both leaving the organization during the summer months, Ersan Ilyasova had the opportunity to become a larger part of Milwaukee's offense in 2013-14.
So far, though, an injury and slow start have prevented him from doing so.
Obviously, recovering from any injury can be a slow process, and that is likely somewhat responsible for the less-than-stellar numbers Ilyasova is posting thus far.
The 8.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists he's averaging through 10 games isn't awful, but given his reputation for being very efficient, he needs to produce much more offensively.
At the very least, he needs to get back to where he was a season ago.
7. Brandon Knight
Guess who else has been plagued by an injury to start the year?
If you said Brandon Knight, you're correct!
The 22-year-old heir apparent to Jennings sat on the sidelines for a good portion of the team's early slate of games. However—knock on wood—Knight is now healthy and beginning to show Bucks fans why he can lead the offense moving forward.
After not scoring more than eight points in any of his first six appearances, he has exploded recently and might finally be healthy enough to play at the pace he wants to.
Given his age, Knight still has excellent upside and should continue to improve the more he gets used to the new system in Milwaukee.
6. Nate Wolters
Among the biggest surprises for the Bucks has been the play of second-round draft pick Nate Wolters.
Not expected to contribute major minutes early on, the rookie was thrust into the role when Ridnour and Knight both came down with injuries.
So far, he's shown the poise of a veteran, is making excellent decisions with the ball and is providing the team with quality minutes at a position where it has become seemingly shorthanded.
Wolters has started seven of the 14 games he has appeared in and is averaging 7.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists. More impressively, he's turning the ball over just 1.2 times per game.
His shooting numbers have been far from great, and he's not the world's best defender, but those are certainly minor issues, especially given his overall play so far.
5. Gary Neal
Gary Neal has been a solid addition to the team's bench and has expanded on the numbers he posted during his first three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs.
If anyone expected him to break out and put up starter's numbers, though, that's not going to happen.
Averaging 22.4 minutes, Neal is putting up 11.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game despite shooting a career-low 38.4 percent from the floor. However, he's making up for that number by connecting on 45.2 percent of his threes.
And while he doesn't provide much outside of his ability to shoot the ball, that's still a valuable ability to possess.
As the season progresses, he should continue being that spark off Milwaukee's bench.
4. Khris Middleton
Another surprise for the team during the first six weeks has been small forward Khris Middleton.
With Caron Butler and Delfino missing time due to injuries, Middleton, the second-year man, has stepped it up and become a legitimate threat at the 3.
How has he done it? A solid knack for scoring.
He's averaging 10.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting an excellent 46.5 percent from the floor and an equally efficient 44.7 percent from three-point range. Not only that, but he's also recording 1.0 steal per game and proving to be a solid defender.
With Butler's aging body and the growing pains Antetokounmpo is sure to experience, Middleton should find himself playing plenty this season.
As of now, that's a good thing.
3. John Henson
After a strong finish to 2012-13 and an excellent showing in the Las Vegas Summer League, big things were expected out of John Henson come 2013-14.
And while he hasn't quite lived up to expectations, he's still playing solid basketball.
The crafty power forward is averaging 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting an excellent 51.4 percent from the floor.
More impressive, though, is the fact that in just 24.9 minutes per game, he's averaging 2.1 blocks, which ranks sixth among qualified leaders.
Drew is spreading the minutes around pretty evenly, but if Henson ever gets consistent starter's minutes, the numbers will certainly become even better.
2. Caron Butler
Despite being the oldest player on the roster, Caron Butler has put together a pretty respectable season over the first six weeks.
The 33-year-old has battled a few nagging injuries that have forced him to miss some games, but in the 12 games he has played, the veteran has looked solid.
While his field-goal percentage has struggled, the former All-Star is averaging 13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists while proving to be a valuable asset within the offense.
Whether or not he'll be able to stay healthy for the remainder of the season is another question, but he will likely provide the Bucks with consistent scoring.
And that's something they desperately need.
1. O.J. Mayo
O.J. Mayo's start as a member of the Bucks has been full of ups and downs, but he has been their rock so far in 2013-14.
The shooting guard has scored 20 or more points seven times and is shooting a career-high 42.9 percent from behind the three-point line.
At the same time, he's averaging just 15.3 points.
Part of that can be attributed to him connecting on just 41.1 percent of his two-point attempts, but much of it can be attributed to his lack of aggressiveness as well.
It's frustrating to watch someone with such natural talent on the offensive end disappear for long stretches of time some games.
If he ever realizes that the Bucks need him to hoist close to 20 shots each night in order to have a chance, not only will he thrive statistically, but the team will also become a lot more competitive than it currently is.
That said, Mayo has been the best player on the floor for Milwaukee through the first six weeks.
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