Sunday, February 1, 2015

The 15 - Super Bowl Diversion Thanks to Rampant Roster Turnover

I figured I would run my monthly look at The 15 on Super Bowl Sunday as a nice diversion for Cheesehead sports fans like me that are probably still reeling from the improbable loss the Green Bay Packers suffered in the NFC Championship Game against the Seattle Seahawks.  In much more positive Cheesehead sports related developments, it is official that the 2014-15 Milwaukee Bucks are not only inching towards becoming a lock for the NBA playoffs but besides the Atlanta Hawks they are arguably the best story in the NBA right now.  The Bucks won four of their last five games (only loss was a close one on the road the San Antonio Spurs) to close out the month of January with a record of 25-22.  This is all coming as The 15 is suddenly in major flux.  I thought the biggest shuffle to the minutes on The 15 was going to be filling the 29.5 minutes per game from the fallout of rookie small forward Jabari Parker's torn ACL.  It turns out that was just the start of not only a churn in the minutes on The 15 but also the members of The 15.  Keep in mind that The 15 contained 15 guaranteed contracts at the start of the season when Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond guaranteed backup point guard Kendall Marshall's contract two and a half months early than he needed to, which loomed large on the roster decisions that I am about to discuss.  Here are my updated thoughts on The 15:

2) Brandon Knight (PG, LR 3): I know this seems borderline crazy to put Knight ahead of rookie small forward Jabari Parker but I did this for two reasons.  One, Parker is out for the season with a knee injury so that hurts his trade value even though it seems like his ceiling is potentially limitless.  Two, Knight is putting up a very impressive 18.4 PER so far this season.  I know that Knight is going to be a restricted free agent this summer and could be a borderline max contract guy but the Bucks hold the cards for how they want to handle Knight going forward so the better Knight plays, the more he is going to cost the Bucks.  The real question that I do not quite know the answer to yet is whether Knight is truly evolving as a player or if Jason Kidd is really a much better NBA coach than I am thought he could ever be.  Only time will tell but so far the results are impressive.

The 15 4.0 for 2014-15
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (SG/SF, LR 1)
2. Brandon Knight (PG, LR 3)
3. Jabari Parker (SF/PF, LR 2)
4. John Henson (PF/C, LR 4)
5. O.J. Mayo (SG, LR 6)
6. Khris Middleton (SF, LR 7)
7. Ersan Ilyasova (PF, LR 5)
8. Jared Dudley (SG/SF, LR 8)
9. Kendall Marshall (PG, LR 10)
10. Zaza Pachulia (C, LR 11)
11. Jerryd Bayless (PG/SG, LR 12)
12. Johnny O'Bryant III (PF, LR 14)
13. Damien Inglis (SF, LR 15)
14. Kenyon Martin (PF, N/R)
15. Jorge Gutierrez (PG, N/R)
Larry Sanders
Nate Wolters (PG)
4) John Henson (PF/C, LR 4): My favorite full-time NBA writer is currently Zach Lowe from  Lowe's boss Bill Simmons is close but he is NOT a full-time NBA writer, which gives Zach the nod.  Leaving my parsing of Grantland's content aside, Lowe had a great post on The Arrival of John Henson.  I am not sure I can add anything more to what Lowe wrote about Henson on the court.  Off the court though, we now officially know that Henson is a real building block for the Bucks.  The questions is how much will that building block cost.  My guess is in the $10 to $12 million per year range, which seems awfully expensive until you realize the Bucks signed currently suspended center Larry Sanders to a four-year, $44 million contract for his defense alone.  While Henson might not be quite as good defensively as Sanders yet but there is no question that Henson is much more polished offensively than Sanders, which might push Henson's price even higher when he is a restricted free agent following the 2015-15 NBA season.

14) Kenyon Martin (PF, N/R): The Bucks waived young, promising point guard Nate Wolters to clear a roster spot for over-the-hill power forward Kenyon Martin.  After the Bucks signed Martin to a couple 10-day contracts, they signed him for the rest of the season even though he has contributed just 1.6 points per game while averaging only 8.5 minutes a game in his 10 appearances.  I know Kidd and Martin are former teammates but that does NOT qualify the 37 year old Martin for a spot on The 15 over Wolters despite the lack of front-court depth.  Let's not forget that Martin played just 50 games over the last two seasons for the New York Knicks so it is not like the Bucks found this diamond in the rough.  I thought Kidd would stick to coaching and Hammond would stick to Building The 15 but this move makes me think Kidd is slowly taking over the front office too, which is what initially worried me when the Bucks traded for Kidd.

15) Jorge Gutierrez (PG, N/R): Just to add insult to injury, literally.  The Bucks lost promising backup point guard Kendall Marshall to a torn ACL when they played the Knicks on January 15th in London.  Let's not forget that the Bucks cut Wolters less than a week before that game to make way for Martin.  Since the NBA foolishly does NOT employ an injured reserve list that meant the Bucks needed to add another point guard so they added another player with ties to Kidd (played for the Nets last year when Kidd was the coach).  Again, it begs the question, is Hammond or Kidd running the front office?  Either way, it seems like Kidd didn't like Wolters very much.  I am not sure why but I can tell you that 99 our of 100 NBA personnel people would rather have Wolters than Gutierrez sadly Kidd, I mean Hammond, is that one guy.

Make sure to check back in a couple weeks for my 6th annual NBA Trade Deadline advice post for Hammond and/or Kidd depending on which one is making the roster decisions at that point.

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