The Milwaukee Bucks announced their Las Vegas Summer League roster yesterday without too many surprises. Three players currently under contract – Gustavo Ayón, John Henson and Ish Smith – will join second-round pick Nate Wolters and a slew of fringe players on the squad. The notable omission is first-rounder Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will not participate due to a conflicting commitment with the Greek Under-20 national team.
Ayón, 28, and Smith, who will turn 25 tomorrow, are relatively old and experienced for Summer League standards. However, the Bucks have yet to get an extended look at either player, as they played in a combined 28 games with the Bucks after coming over in the J.J. Redick-Tobias Harris trade. It also appears Ayón’s $1.5 million contract doesn’t become guaranteed until July 25. As a result, Milwaukee has the luxury of treating Summer League as another trial period. Pressure!
Henson is the most relevant and intriguing Bucks player heading to Vegas. He put on a strong showing in his four Summer League appearances last year – averaging 18.3 points (53.4 fg%), 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game – so it will be interesting to see how the sophomore fares against less polished competition this time around.
Wolters will presumably share point guard duties with Smith and slide over to shooting guard at times. Given his decent size – 6’4″, 190 – the Bucks will certainly want to see if he’s capable of playing both guard spots at the next level, à la Luke Ridnour.
Dominique Jones, Demetris Nichols and Xavier Silas are the only other players on the roster with NBA experience. Jones, whom the Bucks invited to a three-day free agent minicamp a couple weeks ago, appeared in 80 games during three seasons with Dallas. Nichols, who is the oldest player on the list, played in a total of 18 games for three teams between 2007 and 2009 before digging out a niche overseas. Silas saw action in four games – including two in the playoffs – with Philadelphia during the 2011-12 campaign.
College basketball fans in Wisconsin will also recognize two other names: Marquette’s Junior Cadougan and Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz. Both players worked out for the Bucks prior to the NBA Draft, though neither were in a legitimate position to be selected. Cadougan was a steady, if unspectacular, presence at point guard in his four seasons with the Golden Eagles, while Bruesewitz’s most ascertainable skill was, ugh, hustle. They both struggled mightily to score. (Bruesewitz and Cadougan posted true shooting percentages of .517 and .497, respectively, their senior season. Think Jennings and Ellis efficiency on way less usage.)
Although 18 players are listed on the roster, there’s no guarantee they will all actually head to Vegas, per Bucks PR. The team will practice five times at the end of next week before flying to Vegas, and it’s likely only a smaller version of this roster will make the trip.
New head coach Larry Drew, along with assistants Bob Bender and Nick Van Exel, will coach the squad, according to the Bucks’ press release. It’s unclear in what capacity Drew will be involved – Jim Boylan, who was top assistant at the time, handled most Summer League coaching duties last year.
The Bucks will play three games in a span from July 13 to 16 and then enter an inaugural single-elimination tournament along with 22 other teams. A consolation round is also scheduled in to ensure each team gets at least five games.
While Summer League can be entertaining to watch, let’s quickly remember it means very little. Case in point: Larry Sanders looked utterly lost last year. Jarrid Famous outperformed him by a pretty significant margin. Sanders averaged 6.3 points on 36.4 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 fouls (!) in 25.7 minutes per game . That’s not a typo – in the name of development, a player is allowed 10 fouls per game. Summer League is just the best.
All games can be streamed through NBA.com’s “Summer League Live” for $14.99.