Around the NBA, rosters are set at their active, 15-man limits heading into Tuesday’s opening night.
The Milwaukee Bucks finalized their squad Monday by waiving guard Tim Frazier and keeping forward Christian Wood. Wood, a versatile, 6-foot-10 big man, won the last spot on the roster with standout performances throughout the past four months dating back to summer league.
With their roster set, the Bucks are making final preparations for their season opener at 6 p.m. Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center.
Here’s a look at how Milwaukee’s starting unit and bench project to look at the outset of the season as well as how each player fits.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer confirmed Monday he will stick with the starting unit he used in three of four preseason games.
PG Eric Bledsoe: Bledsoe can create more freely on offense and has been encouraged to drive the lane and shoot open three-pointers while cutting down on mid-range jumpers. On defense, Budenholzer has often emphasized the need for Bledsoe to set the tone at the front of the defense.
SG Malcolm Brogdon: Brogdon is a dangerous combo guard whether he’s running the point or playing off the ball. He’s a strong third or fourth option in the starting unit and can run the second team if he stays on when some starters come off.
F Khris Middleton: In the all-star conversation last year, Middleton should be able to play out of position less and have easier offensive looks this season. With an uptick in three-point attempts and percentage, he could be in line for his first all-star appearance.
F Giannis Antetokounmpo: Budenholzer’s system could more fully unlock Antetokounmpo’s potential, arming him with shooters around the floor and giving him loads of space to operate. Milwaukee’s depth could also be a blessing, allowing him to log fewer minutes than in years past when he was necessary for him to be among the league leaders in order for the Bucks to win.
C Brook Lopez: Lopez provides a bigger, more physical presence than the Bucks have had in a long time. He also unclutters the paint, often running to the corner where he needs to be respected as a shooter.
This group will be in flux over time, but based on the preseason, these players seem to have a leg up when it comes to getting regular minutes.
F Ersan Ilyasova: In the preseason finale, Budenholzer used lyasova as the sixth man replacing Brogdon. He likes the size, three-point shooting and versatility of that lineup. As a proven veteran who does a lot of little things well, Ilyasova is a reliable option off the bench.
G Donte DiVincenzo: Budenholzer has been impressed by the number of winning plays DiVincenzo has made and is capable of making. His preseason shooting numbers weren’t overwhelming, but his passing, rebounding and overall hustle are traits Budenholzer values.
C John Henson: Henson’s willingness to expand his shot beyond the three-point line will greatly increase his value if he can knock down some open looks. An overall solid defender, Henson knows his offensive role will be to cut and roll for easy buckets in the paint or camp out for three-pointers.
G Tony Snell: A regular starter each of the past two seasons, Snell slides back into a bench role that could suit him well. A long, willing defender and a sharpshooter from three-point range, Snell hasn’t shown the wide range of skills of some other Bucks players, but could still provide value as a three-and-D guy in smaller spurts off the bench.
Something to prove
The final six players on the Bucks’ roster could certainly work their way up into playing rotation minutes. Who makes that move will depend on their play as well as how Budenholzer decides to allocate minutes.
C Thon Maker: Held out of Milwaukee’s final three preseason games with left knee soreness, Maker likely has the best chance to be a rotation player, especially if he can play as well as he did in last year’s playoffs. It will be interesting to see how Budenholzer uses him, considering there were times he nominally played power forward during training camp.
G Matthew Dellavedova: Like Maker, Dellavedova could feasibly play regular, rotational minutes as a backup point guard. That will all depend on how Budenholzer decides to stagger minutes between Bledsoe, Brogdon and DiVincenzo. As an experienced veteran, Dellavedova can provide Budenholzer with some stability. He’s also a willing passer and active defender, which Budenholzer values.
G Pat Connaughton: A regular rotation player for the Portland Trail Blazers last season, Connaughton has proven he can light the scoreboard up in limited minutes off the bench. His three-point shooting and willingness to fire from all over the court could lead to some microwave performances when his number is called.
G Sterling Brown: As far as guards, Brown may have the most uphill battle on the team. He showed flashes as a three-and-D player last season, especially on defense where he was a notably tough presence. He’s going to have to ratchet up that defense and get more proficient as a shooter to earn court time.
F D.J. Wilson: Milwaukee’s 2017 first-round pick, Wilson missed most of training camp with a right hamstring strain. He hasn’t shown much yet at the NBA level and will face stiff competition from Maker and Wood if he’s going to show anything in his second season.
F Christian Wood: The last man to make the Bucks roster, Wood starred in summer league and during the preseason. He can score inside and out and can use his length and athleticism to be disruptive in the paint. He’s proven all of that against mild competition but now will have to demonstrate he can be a positive contributor against top-level NBA talent.