Bucks Lead

Ranking the Top 24 Players Between Bucks and C’s

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Two of the league’s most talented and deep teams are facing off in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in a rematch of last year’s first round. The Celtics won in seven games, and we saw the home team win every game. Boston was missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and Milwaukee was missing leadership and logical coaching schemes. Both of these teams are very different from last season, which is why it is so hard to predict what is going to happen. But predicting isn’t up to me. I am here to rank the top twenty four players in this series, based on talent and importance to the team. Let’s get started.

24-20: Robert Williams, Pau Gasol, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye, Tony Snell

Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

24. Robert Williams

A rookie out of Texas A&M, Williams didn’t play much on this stacked Boston team. He played in just 32 games. However, when he did get on the floor, he showed a lot of promise. He shot 70.6% from the field and had a high rebounding rate. He also averaged 1.3 blocks per game while only playing 8.8 minutes per game, which is very impressive. It is unlikely that he will see the floor in this series unless there is an emergency, but he is a solid depth piece for Boston to have.

23. Pau Gasol

The Bucks signed Pau after being waived by the San Antonio Spurs in early March. Pau played just three games for Milwaukee, and he didn’t do much in those games. He is now 38 years old, and it’s pretty clear that he wasn’t signed to make an impact on the court. Gasol and George Hill are the only players on the Bucks to have played in an NBA Finals, and Pau is the only player to have won one. He brings experience and expertise to the squad as somewhat of a player coach. We all know what he is capable of on the floor – or at least what he was capable of in his prime – but he is also very valuable in the locker room.

22. Daniel Theis

Despite not seeing a lot of playing time, Daniel Theis is a good player. In his second year, he saw a slight minutes decrease, but his production only got better. He shot 55% from the field and 39% from range, averaging 5.7 points per game in just 14 minutes of play. He is a solid rebounder and rim protector, and he is really good at spacing the floor with his improved shot from deep. Boston has some good big men on their team in front of Theis, keeping him from getting a lot of playing time, but he is a dangerous offensive weapon off of their bench.

21. Semi Ojeleye

Ah Semi Ojeleye, the man known in Boston as the “Giannis Stopper”. Well, I hate to break it to you Boston, but there is no such thing. Semi is a good defender and may be as close to a Giannis Stopper as we’ve seen, but you can’t stop Giannis. Ojeleye isn’t much of an offensive threat, but his big body and physicality make him a strong defensive force. We probably will see him match up against Giannis this series, and he will impact what Giannis can do down low, making him have to make plays with his teammates instead of dunking at will.

20. Tony Snell

Tony Snell is one of the guys that’s just solid at everything. He is a very good three point shooter, but he can do other things as well. Snell plays good defense with his length and quickness, can create his own shot and can also catch & shoot or shoot around screens. Injuries and stellar play from Pat Connaughton and Sterling Brown has forced a minuted reduction for Tony Snell, but don’t be surprised if Tony checks in a game and starts shooting the lights out at least once this series.

19-15: Aron Baynes, Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton, Terry Rozier, Ersan Ilyasova

Photo: Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports

19. Aron Baynes

Yes, Aron Baynes has been dunked on many, many times, but he does some good things too. He’s isn’t going to stuff a stat sheet or ever be more than a role player, but he gives you a lot to like. Strong, physical defense, grit, and he plays like he isn’t scared of anybody. A good team needs a guy like that. Baynes has also developed his shooting some, making defenses have to at least respect his outside shot. That makes Boston’s offense more open and harder to defend.

18. Sterling Brown

Speaking of teams needing a guy who plays physical and isn’t afraid of anyone, meet Sterling Brown. He is a second year player out of SMU, and while he showed potential in his rookie year, he took off this season. Sterling is a phenomenal defender, one of those guys that annoys the living hell of the guy that he’s matched up with. He also has a knock down shot from the corners and can blow by a defender who gets too close. Sterling has been a great fill in the starting lineup for the injured Malcolm Brogdon.

17. Pat Connaughton

If I were asked to find the perfect role player for Mike Budenholzer’s system, Pat Connaughton might be my answer. He is a good shooter, good rebounder, good passer, and an energetic defender. He isn’t extraordinary at anything in basketball – other than his insane 44 inch vertical and dunking ability- but he does everything well. There are no holes in his game. He has certainly earned his team option for next season that the Bucks would be fools not to pick up.

16. Terry Rozier

Terry Rozier is arguably the biggest reason that the Celtics defeated the Bucks in round one last year. He had a great series while filling in for Kyrie, and even made a rival in Eric Bledsoe. He is a good player, but despite what Boston fans like to think, he isn’t actually better than Eric Bledsoe. Still, he is one of the best bench point guards in the league and is a very tough matchup for opposing guards. He is inefficient, but is still good enough to beat you if you fall asleep on him for even just a second.

15. Ersan Ilyasova

Ersan is another guy who is a great fit in Budenholzer’s system. A big who can stroke it from deep and is a good rebounder. He is one of the worse defenders on Milwaukee, but he is also one of the best bench scorers on the team. Ersan can score from anywhere and is very good at getting offensive rebounds and tip-ins. He also has more playoff experience than anyone on the team outside of Pau Gasol and George Hill, which is always valuable.

14-11: George Hill, Marcus Morris, Nikola Mirotic, Marcus Smart

Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

14. George Hill

Milwaukee acquired George Hill way back on December 7th, and only lost an injured John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova and a pick in the deal. What an upgrade. Hill played with the Spurs when Budenholzer was an assistant there, and he fit right in with the Bucks. This is the second straight season that a contending team has trade for him, after the Cavs acquired him last year. Teams want him because he brings so much to the table. He is a very well rounded offensive player, and also has great length and can guard multiple positions on defense. He is a very valuable piece on Milwaukee’s bench.

13. Marcus Morris

Marcus Morris is a rough & tough, in your face kind of guy. Boston has a few of those, which is partly why their defense is so good. He has also developed into a lethal three point shooter and can bang down low with anybody. Morris is very underrated in the league and is a great player for Boston. A combination of his attitude, scoring ability and strong defense make him a very important player.

12. Nikola Mirotic

It’s pretty hard to believe that the Bucks only had to lose Thon Maker to get someone like Nikola Mirotic. Niko is a knock down shooter, paint scorer and an above average rebounder. He has also shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive into the lane. He hasn’t quite been completely himself with Milwaukee yet, as he had an injury right as he was just getting into the swing of things but his ability and play style is perfect for Milwaukee’s scheme and he with be a great weapon in the playoffs.

11. Marcus Smart

There is a chance that Marcus Smart doesn’t see any playing time this series due to his injury, and we know that he will for sure miss the first two games.

Still, if he does play, he completely changes how good Boston is. While he isn’t a bad offensive player by any means, he is much more important for Boston’s defense. Another guy who isn’t scared of anybody and plays with so much passion and physicality that he makes Boston’s defense even better than it is without him. Milwaukee would love to get through this series without Smart coming back.

10-6: Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez, Jayson Tatum

Photo: Nick Wass/AP Photo

10. Jaylen Brown

It’s getting to the point now where it is becoming very hard to rank these players. The top ten could be argued many different ways and I’m not claiming to be completely right, but this is how I see it. Jaylen Brown is awesome. He is good at every aspect of the sport. The Celtics have so many good players and Jaylen Brown is one of many, but his potential puts him as a possible star in this league. He is someone to look out for as a player who could explode during this series and be the reason Boston takes down Milwaukee.

9. Gordon Hayward

After the horrific leg injury to start the year last season and finally returning this year, Gordon has not been the same player he was in Utah. He hasn’t seemed to have the same confidence, and he hasn’t had the explosiveness. Lately, however, he is showing signs of life. Gordon had a very good first round and seems to have that fire lit under him again. Just like Brown, he is someone to look out for who could show up and destroy Milwaukee if he’s playing at his peak.

8. Malcolm Brogdon

Like Marcus Smart, there is a chance Brogdon will not play a game in this round. Even if he does, he will certainly be on a minutes restriction upon return. When healthy though, Malcolm Brogdon is great. This season, Brogdon became just the 8th player in NBA history to record a 50-40-90 season (50% FG%, 40% 3P%, 90% FT%). The others are Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Mark Price. That is some incredible company. If Brogdon plays and gets significant time, he brings a huge offensive threat back to Milwaukee.

7. Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez deserves almost just as much credit as Mike Budenholzer does for the Bucks’ turnaround this season. Signed to a very small contract, Brook has come in and helped the Bucks so much this season. His floor spacing and rim protecting is something that is perfect for the Bucks’ scheme. Brook used to score 20+ points per game while only scoring in the paint, but now he scored primarily from deep, but can still beat anybody down low. He also finished in the top 5 in the league in blocks. Brook is so important to the Bucks success and will be a key factor all series.

6. Jayson Tatum

Can you believe Jayson Tatum is only 21? This guy does it all and is a future star in the league. Tatum is the ultimate wild card for Boston, where if he plays well, so does Boston. They need him to be at his best in order to beat a team like Milwaukee, and he has given no reason to believe that he won’t be. He is very tough to guard as he can score from anywhere on the floor, so he’ll be a challenge for the Milwaukee defense.

5. Khris Middleton

Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

This season was actually a down shooting year from Khris, but he still shot 44% from the field and 38% from deep, putting up 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, earning his first all-star nod. He was also voted by his peers and one of the most underrated players in the league.

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1115365654897491968

He was voted because he is so hard to guard. He can pull up from anywhere and do it in your face. Khris can back you down and hit a nasty fade away, and he can score on you in the paint as well. He also holds his own against anyone defensively. Khris is a great player and can hurt the Celtics in many different ways.

4. Eric Bledsoe

Photo: Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports

Despite Middleton being Milwaukee’s second all star, Eric Bledsoe has emerged as the team’s second best all around player. After being outplayed by Terry Rozier in the first round last year and after having a somewhat lackluster first year with Milwaukee, Bledsoe seems like a different player. He is and always has been great at breaking down defenses and scoring inside, but he’s doing it even more effectively. Bledsoe is also playing less selfishly and is using his incredibly talented teammates to his advantage. Even more importantly, Bledsoe has earned an All-NBA Defensive team nod. He should be on one because he guarded the leagues best guards better than anybody in the league this season. Don’t expect Bledsoe to let Rozier, or even Kyrie, walk all over him this year,

3. Al Horford

Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Al Horford is one of the least flashy players on this list, but he’s also one of the most solid. He is an elite defender, both on the interior and on the perimeter, and he can score from anywhere as well. Despite being an undersized center, Horford can rebound and bang down low with the best of them. He also spreads the floor and is knock down from outside. A matchup between Brook Lopez and Al Horford, while it will be slow moving, will be incredibly fun to watch.

2. Kyrie Irving

Photo: Getty Images

Despite some drama with the team and rumors about where he is going to play next season, Kyrie has led the team to the second round. He does have a great supporting cast, but there is no denying that he is the best player on the team. He is a cold blooded assassin, and is one of the most clutch players in the league. While Eric Bledsoe is a great defender, it doesn’t matter much with a guy like Kyrie. He is going to get his.

Kyrie also knows what it takes to win a championship. Sure, he was playing second fiddle to LeBron James when he won, but he was arguably the best player in that series, and he made the most important shot in game seven. The Bucks are obviously a different team than they were last season when they lost to Boston, but Kyrie makes Boston one of the most talented and deadly teams in the league.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Photo: Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports

Giannis Antetokounmpo. The MVP. The most dominant player in basketball today. We all know what Giannis is capable of, and despite there being so many great players in this series, Giannis is clearly the best. He will kill you in the paint, scoring even more efficiently down low than prime Shaq. Nobody can stop him.

As a team, a defense of Boston’s caliber is the best shot to stop him, but with the new and improved shooting ideology of Milwaukee, even when he is stopped down low, he always finds an open shooter outside. That’s what makes him so deadly. He can score like a monster in the paint, and if by some miracle somebody stops him, he can distribute like a guard to one of Milwaukee’s many great shooters. His lack of a consistent three-point shot does keep him from being the best in the world right now, but he isn’t far off. Boston will need more than Semi Ojeleye to stop this man.

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About Nick Niles

I'm Nick Niles! I was born in Green Bay Wisconsin, raised in Appleton Wisconsin, and now I'm back in Green Bay at UW-GB studying Political Science and Public Administration. I have been a huge Bucks fan for as long as I have been alive, and I'm also passionate about writing. Twitter: @Bucks_Deluxe | @Nilesmania

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