• The Bucks start here

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    Amid swirling rumors and megabuck trades with the start of free agency, one team has made great strides and is slowly building a long-term contender. The Milwaukee Bucks, one of the NBA’s young and rising teams, recently snagged talented center Greg Monroe in a 3-year, $50 million deal.

    Monroe reportedly spurned big market teams such as the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers to join the Bucks in a bid to reach his first playoffs in his five-year career. He has never reached the playoffs since he started playing for the Detroit Pistons back in 2010. Monroe is a prototypical big man and has averaged at least 15 points and 9 rebounds the past 4 seasons and averaged career bests in scoring and rebounding last season.

    Monroe joins an exciting young core of up and coming stars who are not more than 23 years. He will team up with versatile forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Khris Middle¬ton, and former rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams.

    Middleton recently signed a 5-year, $70 million contract with the Bucks as he emerged as one of the team’s go-to players averaging 13 points and 4 rebounds on top of good defense and perimeter shooting. Antetokounmpo – called the Greek Freak for his versatility – is able to play both forward and guard positions making him a match-up nightmare for most teams. Former No. 2 pick Parker is seen to make waves next season returning from a season-ending injury. Parker is touted to be one of the best players to emerge from the draft in recent years and has shown flashes of brilliance.

    With this core in place, the Bucks are projected to exceed their 41-41 record last year and go even deeper in the playoffs. In the weak East, the Bucks were able to grab the 6th seed before bowing out to the Chicago Bulls in the 1st round. Look for the team to breach the 50-win mark and snag one of the top three seeds.

    The Bucks also boast of a deep team with John Henson, Zaza Pachulia, Greivis Vasquez, O.J. Mayo, and Miles Plumlee expected to come off the bench.

    With this versatile line-up, the Bucks can again easily employ Coach Jason Kidd’s aggressive defensive sets which have done wonders for the team.

    The Bucks also have several assets they can already trade as their backcourt and frontcourt are becoming crowded. For instance, the Bucks can let go of Jerryd Bayless, Plumlee and Pachulia without feeling it since they have a full roster.

    The Bucks have built this team on the cheap and they will soon reap the dividends of building slowly but surely.

    raffyrledesma@yahoo.com

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