Much has been said about various Milwaukee Bucks players after their first-round exit in the playoffs this year. The same core that won a championship two years ago hasn’t been able to advance past the second round since then. Although this fan base and front office owe a lot to the core group that brought a championship back to Milwaukee, loyalty only gets you so far in professional sports.
I wrote earlier this week about five players that could be traded this offseason. It wasn’t a list of players I hope to get traded, but a list of players that likely have the most value to other organizations. The Milwaukee Bucks don’t have many routes to improve this offseason. Their cap is maxed, and they only have the space for minimum-salary players.
Although this is less than ideal, there are players currently under contract or on the team this last season with big opportunities in front of them. With very little wiggle room, internal improvements may be the most realistic option for this team to fill some of the major holes we saw against the Heat.
Here are three Milwaukee Bucks players with the biggest opportunities heading into next season.
3 Milwaukee Bucks Players With the Biggest Opportunities Heading Into 2023
No. 3: Meyers Leonard (C)
Putting Meyers Leonard on this list may seem like a head-scratcher, but I promise there’s a reason. After signing back-to-back 10-day contracts with the Bucks in March, Leonard was signed for the remainder of the season. In nine games with the team, he averaged 13 minutes, 4.8 points, and 3.8 rebounds per game. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but the 39% 3-point shooting does. The sample size is small but is still right at his career average.
Why would the Milwaukee Bucks re-sign him? His checkered past doesn’t help his cause, but his actions since show he has grown as an individual. That same checkered past helps keep him in the Bucks’ price range, as well. He’ll never be a Bucks player that gets a ton of minutes and puts up wild stats, but he can play the role of a backup big. Add his shooting ability as a huge plus for a team struggling in that department.
There are no guarantees Brook Lopez will be re-signed this offseason, although there is speculation he wants to be back. If he isn’t back, Giannis Antetokounmpo likely moves to center, and the team will be looking for a backup big man. Signing one that is inexpensive, won’t be asked to do much, and can make outside shots makes a lot of sense. The defense will look different, but that may not be a bad thing.
No. 2: A.J. Green (G)
The Milwaukee Bucks roster has some concerns around it. One of the biggest is the lack of young talent. That’s by no means shocking for an organization that has a generational talent in its prime, but a rapidly aging roster can close a title window quickly. The Milwaukee Bucks have won a championship with this core, but the hope is that more are coming with a future Hall of Famer under contract for two more years.
One of the two young Bucks players to see game time this past season was A.J. Green. The rookie out of Northern Iowa showed pretty well, all things considered. He was on a two-way contract this season and is a restricted free agent this offseason. Milwaukee can offer him a qualifying offer of just under $1.8 million, and I think it would be a smart move.
Although Green may be limited defensively, he is a great shooter. In 35 games this season, he shot 42% from behind the arc. The sample size is small, but it’s enough to know the kid can shoot. We’ve seen teams find ways to get good minutes and production out of players that struggle on the defensive end. The Bucks faced one such player in the playoffs, the Heat’s Duncan Robinson.
Green may not have the athletic profile to be an extremely impactful Bucks player for years to come. Yet, with the right coach and scheme, he can be a factor. This roster has struggled to consistently shoot the ball, especially in the playoffs. Having a go-to sniper on the team to help spread the floor can go a long way. If he can improve even slightly on defense and develop some type of shot creation, he’ll get minutes.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ 2022 first-round pick had the rookie year I think most fans expected. He showed potential, flashed his high-end athleticism, and wasn’t given the opportunities to grow by a coach that favors veteran players. With a new coach in town and a roster yearning for youth, athleticism, and versatility, this upcoming season will be a huge opportunity for MarJon Beauchamp.
The 6-foot-7 forward has the size and speed to be a defensive stopper. He also showed glimpses of what he is capable of on the offensive end. He was advertised as a 3-and-D wing player but did show some shot-creation and play-making abilities too.
It’s tough to show too much in 13 minutes per game, but the tools are there. There isn’t anything this roster needs more than a young, athletic wing that can knock down open jumpers. Making 33% of triples isn’t great, but it’s not a bad starting point, either. If he becomes a lockdown defender and continues to grow the rest of his offensive game, that’s a great situation for a team with virtually no draft picks or salary cap money to play with.
No matter what happens this offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks players and the overall team will be good next season. The front office isn’t going to punt any season while Giannis Antetokounmpo is in his prime. I’ve said it before, but the avenues to improve the roster externally are far and few between. It’s much more likely internal growth plays a bigger part in this team looking better next season.