Bucks Lead

Bucks Acquire Eric Bledsoe

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The Phoenix Suns have finalized a trade to send Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Greg Monroe and a pair of protected draft picks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Bucks’ reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the picks are as follows:

After much speculation about what Phoenix’s asking price would be, or if the Bucks would need to include Brogdon to pique the Suns’ interest, a deal has finally been struck. Considering the rumors that have been flowing recently regarding the potential of this trade, GM Jon Horst made out remarkably well here. Greg Monroe is on an expiring contract, and the Bucks would have faced a difficult decision whether or not to resign him and at what cost.

I have been very vocal in saying that the Bucks should not give up either Malcolm Brogdon or Thon Maker in this deal, and much of Bucks’ twitter seemed to be with me. The thought of adding the dynamic playmaking and two-way ability of Bledsoe to a core that badly needs it is very tantalizing. I just didn’t want to see the Bucks sacrifice the potential of Thon or the reigning Rookie of the Year to do it. And I’m so glad they didn’t have to!

The Bucks badly needed to shake things up. This season started with so much excitement, buoyed by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s dominant MVP-like performances. But underachieving offense in big games early on, and a defense that ranks in the bottom 10 of the league, has left many wondering if this current roster could get over the hump in the Eastern Conference. Acquiring Eric Bledsoe ought to provide a sizeable boost in both of those areas.

Bledsoe is coming off a season where he averaged career-highs in points (21.1), assists (6.3), free throw percentage (84.7), usage percentage (28.1), and box plus/minus (3.3). He turns 28 years old in a month, and is in the prime of his career. The Bucks needed another perimeter defender to take some pressure off our other starters, and a playmaker to draw attention away from Giannis.

One of the easiest problems to spot for the Bucks early on has been the immense amount of attention Giannis draws offensively, and how difficult that makes things for him. On numerous possessions, Antetokounmpo drives or catches the ball in the lane only to be immediately surrounded by 3 or even 4 defenders. Adding another player who can drive and create will be an enormous help to Giannis.

The Bucks currently rank 26th in the league in defensive rating (107.9). Bledsoe’s advanced defensive stats the past few seasons won’t jump off the page, but much of that is due to how bad Phoenix has been as a whole. Just by watching, you can tell that Bledsoe’s an above average on-ball defender. He has the athleticism to be great on this end, and hopefully the coaching of Jason Kidd and the support of the Bucks’ incredible length will allow him to flourish defensively.

All in all, this is a huge win for the Bucks. They added a difference-maker without giving up any of their young core pieces. I’m not sure what the starting lineup will be now, if Brogdon or Snell will be bumped to the bench. But I actually kind of hope it’s Middleton. Losing Monroe will hurt our bench production, and Middleton would be an ideal fit as a playmaker with the second unit. Another possibility worth exploring might be relegating Jabari to the bench when he comes back from injury.

If it were up to me, I would start Bledsoe-Brogdon-Snell-Giannis-Thon with Middleton and Jabari giving us the best 1-2 punch off the bench in the entire league. Alternately, swapping Middleton and Brogdon may be the more realistic lineup with the same bench benefits. The Bucks’ depth, which was once a big concern, suddenly seems like a strength. A small-ball late game lineup of Bledsoe-Brogdon-Middleton-Snell-Giannis possesses a crazy amount of defensive versatility and makes the Bucks a true threat to the East’s powers.

About Preston Dubey

Lifelong basketball fanatic and Bucks’ supporter

I coach basketball; but I eat, sleep, and breathe the game.

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