Power Ranking Every Key Milwaukee Bucks Player Before Season's End
It's good news that the nightmare 2013-14 season that the Milwaukee Bucks have suffered through is quickly coming to an end. And even though most fans want it to end in a hurry, there are some housekeeping issues to take care of.
One of them is power ranking each key player on the roster.
Despite an abysmal record and disappointments from a few players, a fair amount of Bucks have taken advantage of their opportunities this year.
Whether it has been Brandon Knight demonstrating he can be a franchise point guard or Giannis Antetokounmpo wowing fans with his freakish athleticism, there have been plenty of positive takeaways.
Based on a mix of recent play and overall performances for the entire season, here's a final look at where each key Bucks player ranks.
10. Larry Sanders
Larry Sanders' presence on this list is strictly to demonstrate a team's worst nightmare when awarding a big contract to a player.
After signing a four-year, $44 million extension last summer, Sanders has appeared in just 23 games—due to several injuries—and when he has been on the court, he hasn't looked all that great.
In the 25.4 minutes per game he has seen when active, he is averaging 7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on 46.9 percent shooting from the field. Those averages are all significantly down from a season ago.
Some of it may be due to never getting into a rhythm because of injuries, but at this point, it's fair to say 2013-14 has been a massive failure for the big man.
9. Ersan Ilyasova
Like Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova has pieced together a disappointing year despite playing better in recent months.
The versatile power forward is averaging 11.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists with a field-goal percentage of 40.7 percent and a three-point percentage of 28.9.
When the team lost Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis during the offseason, Ilyasova had an opportunity to become a more focal point of the offense.
Obviously, that hasn't come to fruition.
Known for his efficiency, he has seen a dramatic dip from last season's 46.2 field-goal percentage and 44.4 percent shooting from three-point territory.
Not only that, but he has appeared in just 53 of the team's 68 games to date, which once again raises questions about his durability.
8. Jeff Adrien
And despite taking the floor in a Bucks uniform just 14 times, he's making a solid impression. In 19.4 minutes per game, the former University of Connecticut standout is averaging 8.9 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 53.9 percent from the field.
While the sample size is small, those numbers dwarf anything he has done in prior seasons.
Some may argue that he's just a scrub who's putting up stats for a bad team in garbage minutes, but it's hard not to be impressed by his output thus far.
If you expand those numbers to look at them per 36 minutes, they rise to 16.5 points and 13.4 rebounds.
Clearly no one is expecting that kind of production, but the fact that he has come to the Bucks hungry says a lot about his mentality.
In fact, he may be earning a roster spot for next season.
7. O.J. Mayo
For better or worse, O.J. Mayo was the marquee signing for the Bucks during the offseason.
He was coming off a successful season with the Dallas Mavericks where his numbers bounced back after a few down seasons. All signs pointed to him continuing that trend.
However, as we now know, that hasn't been the case.
He has struggled remarkably in Milwaukee this season, playing in 50 games and falling well short of expectations in the one area where the Bucks needed him to thrive: scoring.
Averaging just 11.6 points on 40.1 percent shooting from the field and 36.9 percent from three-point territory isn't what most expected.
It'll be interesting to see what the offseason brings for him, but 2013-14 has not been kind to Mayo.
6. Nate Wolters
Nate Wolters has surprised many Bucks fans and NBA fans in general.
The 38th overall pick in last summer's draft has seen his fair share of playing time, averaging 22.8 minutes in 57 appearances. In addition to receiving ample minutes, he has been productive.
He's averaging 7.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting a respectable 43.8 percent clip from the field. More impressively, he's averaging just one turnover per game.
Young players don't often show the poise Wolters has, and for the Bucks, that's a major positive as he continues to grow.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo
If it weren't for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Wolters would be the most surprising rookie on the roster.
However, the Greek Freak has wowed with his length, athleticism and passion for the game.
While those things haven't exactly translated to paper on a consistent basis, anyone who watches him can see his immense potential.
In fact, there are worse ways to start a career than by averaging 6.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists on 41.0 percent shooting from the floor. Perhaps most importantly, he has gained valuable experience in an otherwise meaningless season.
Look for Antetokounmpo to do big things and climb these rankings in the next year.
4. Ramon Sessions
In his second stint with the Bucks, Ramon Sessions is picking up where he left off.
In 14 appearances, he is averaging 13.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists while turning the ball over just 1.4 times per game. Additionally, he's shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from behind the three-point line.
Thus far, the 27-year-old point guard has had a productive return to Milwaukee.
While his presence won't help the Bucks in the win column the rest of the way, he has been entertaining to watch, and if depth at point guard is needed, he could make the roster next season.
Regardless, he has quickly moved up the rankings since joining the team.
3. Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton has been consistently good for the Bucks at small forward in 2013-14.
In just his second year, he is averaging 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals on 44.7 percent shooting. On top of that, he's connecting on 42.4 percent of his three-point attempts, which ranks 10th in the league.
And while he may not keep shooting at such an impressive rate, his value extends beyond that ability.
With his length and athleticism, he can develop into an even bigger pest on defense. And if he can continue honing his offensive skill set, he could become a scoring force moving forward.
It'll be interesting to see how the Bucks split the minutes between him and Antetokounmpo next season.
2. John Henson
John Henson's game has grown throughout the season but maybe not as much as people expected it to.
Still, he's having a solid season and, based on his numbers and potential, has earned his spot at No. 2 in these rankings.
Posting averages of 11.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while converting 53.2 percent of his shot attempts, Henson has done a little bit of everything in 2013-14.
Not only have his numbers increased—which was going to be a given with his increase in minutes—but he may also be the team's most legitimate post threat.
And moving forward, that may be the most important aspect of his game.
Henson gives the Bucks a go-to guy when they need points close to the basket. If he can continue to build strength and touch around the rim, he's going to be a dominant force for years to come.
1. Brandon Knight
One player has shined the brightest during the team's long, grim season: Brandon Knight.
The former Kentucky Wildcat is beginning to show why he was the second point guard selected in the 2011 draft by posting career highs in points (17.5), rebounds (3.5), assists (4.9) and steals (1.0).
Not only that, but he is becoming a better shooter. The 42.1 percent he's shooting from the field, while not great, is the highest of his career. His improvement from an efficiency standpoint becomes even clearer when you consider he's connecting on 45.8 percent of his two-point attempts.
So where can he improve?
At 33.9 percent, Knight is shooting a career low from behind the three-point line yet is attempting 4.6 per game—the most of his career.
That may be a sign of trying to bring the Bucks back into games, but moving forward, he'll need to work on his shot selection and limit turnovers.
There's no question, though, that Knight has been the biggest success of 2013-14 for the Bucks.
Note: Unless noted, all statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference and accurate through March 18.
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