Role: Future starting power forward
What can he do: Henson had a limited role last year, but he was spectacular his two 40+ minute outings against Oklahoma City and Orlando. He had a 28/16 and a 17/25 respectively against those teams. He also had a 17/18 against Miami. This guy could be really good.
It’s not hard to imagine a future where Larry Sanders and Henson anchor a team that rivals the Chicago Bulls in defense and rebounding. Henson has insane length and athleticism that lets him step out and challenge anyone’s shot. Within another year or two working in an NBA defense, he should be able to mop up teammate’s defensive mistakes while being able to recover and guard his own assignment. He may never get to Sanders defensive level, but realistically he can become a reasonably close facsimile.
He is already a talented rebounder especially on offense. Nearly a fifth of his scoring opportunities come from offensive rebounds. He also makes for an easy target as a roll man.
What can’t he do: Henson had a 53 percent free throw rate. He also shot 20 percent from midrange and averaged 0.61 points per play on unguarded catch-and-shoot situations. Overall, his true shooting percentage was 49 percent. Optimistically, he has nowhere to go, but up. However, recent basketball history is littered with big guys that brought defense and rebounding to their teams while never improving offensively.
What needs to happen: Sanders’ improvement last season was completely beyond any reasonable expectations. It was also limited to his defense and rebounding. Henson needs to make a similar leap on the offensive end. It is absolutely crucial to the Bucks future offense that one of their big men to have a face-up shot and a deft touch.
It also wouldn’t hurt if he put on some muscle. He doesn’t need to be huge. Sanders still handles larger players despite being lean.
Spirit Animal: Wacky, waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tube man.
Role: Back-up scoring center
Contract: Three years, $15.6 million
What can he do: It’s not going to be pretty, but Pachulia’s offense is going to be helpful for a Bucks team that is going to struggle to score. Pachulia has never been a post-up threat, but he has a good touch that helps on cuts and rolls to the basket.
Last year, Pachulia added a much-needed midrange shot to his game. He shot 61 percent from 10-15 feet last year – the first time he’s shot about 50 percent from that range in his career. So for the first time, Pachulia is a threat to pop or roll off a pick.
When Sanders rests, the Bucks won’t miss a beat rebounding since Pachulia has posted exceptional rebounding rates throughout his career.
But that contract: I know that we want to think that everything about the Bucks is great and that guys will exceed their expectations and their contracts. No, Pachulia’s contract isn’t the end of the world. But let’s just consider for a second that a guy who is about to turn 30, a guy who bounced off the top of his not very high ceiling years ago, a guy who never made 5 million before this year might not deserve that contract. Ultimately, Pachulia is just a low-usage, efficient guy that isn’t going to add much. His greatest contribution will be in an eventual trade for a second round pick.
Goals: Bring high fashion to Milwaukee
Spirit Animal: Kanye West’s leather sweatpants
Additional Reading: Preston on why Zaza’s contract isn’t the end of the world.
Role: The backup’s backup
Injury Update: Udoh is sidelined for the next four to six week after getting arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on October 10th.
What can he do: For the umpteenth year, Udoh is entering the season as a raw athlete that does a lot of really subtle things that help his team. He boxes out well, hedges and recovers on picks very well, and doesn’t set a bad pick. Udoh is the plus-minus king.
He is an excellent shot-blocker and team defender. According to 82games.com, the Bucks were 2.5 points per 100 possessions better on defense when Udoh was on the floor.
What can’t he do: Udoh’s big problem is that he doesn’t do anything so well that anyone can actually point to him and say, “Yeah, that guy is a good player.” As the biggest Udoh fan out there, I’ll admit that he’s actually not very good at all.
The Bucks were 3.8 points worse per 100 possessions on offense when Udoh was on the floor. He is very unproductive on offense. Udoh has no moves to score, nor can he facilitate scoring for his teammates beyond the occasional screen. Udoh even does poorly when he’s set-up with easy buckets near the basket. His FG% at the rim was only 59% last season.
Udoh is a terrible rebounder, but let’s call it a wash since the team has better rebounding percentages with him on the court.
Expectations: He’ll continue to be a plus-minus stud with the few minutes he does get, but Pachulia and Henson should get most of the backup bigs minutes. He could be a trade asset going forward.
Spirit Animal: Udoh is a Hufflepuff through and through.
Additional Reading: There is nothing I want more in my life than to eat scones and discuss The Secret with Ekpe Udoh while sitting in comfy couches. You can score if you believe hard enough!