If the Miami Heat are surging in the East, what does that mean for the Milwaukee Bucks? The Knicks were thought to be the leaders in the Greg Monroe sweepstakes, but Phil Jackson refused to offer the max (a smart move, finally!) and the Bucks swooped in and grabbed Monroe for 3-years, $50 million.
Monroe wouldn’t have been an ideal fit with the Knicks, but in Milwaukee, he should thrive. They’ve got a legit scorer in Jabari Parker, a emerging 20-year old in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and two solid shooting guards in Khris Middleton (who just got $70 million) and OJ Mayo.
They won’t need Monroe to be a rim protector – Giannis & John Henson will help. Offensively there’s no burden – Parker will lead the team in shots, and Middleton (13.4 ppg, 46/40, led Milwaukee in shots per game in 1st round loss to Chicago) will be right there as well.
The Bucks frontcourt isn’t bad at all:
C – Greg Monroe, John Henson
PF – Jabari Parker, Miles Plumlee
The Atlanta Hawks lost their best defensive wing (DeMarre Carroll), and the Washington Wizards lost their most clutch player (Paul Pierce). So the four best teams in the East have to be:
1. Cleveland (60+ wins)
I’m not sure of the order of 2-4, because the health of Derrick Rose, as always, is an x-factor.
I suppose an argument could be made that the 49-win Raptors, who for parts of last season looked like the 2nd/3rd best team in the East, got better by taking Carroll from Atlanta, and now have a trio of Lowry, DeRozan and Carroll. They did lose Amir Johnson (started 72 games, 2nd on the team in rebounding) and Greivis Vasquez (2nd on the team in assists).
Washington could crack the Top 4 if Otto Porter continues to progress, but depth will be an issue, as I don’t see rookie Kelly Oubre being a large contributor as a rookie.