It’s one thing to have the worst record in the league and it’s another thing to have a season like the Milwaukee Bucks have had. Their season has been ugly, like something out of middle-earth ugly. Injuries and inconsistency have plagued the roster something terrible along with a few acquisitions that have just flat out flopped. Here’s looking at you O.J. Mayo and the now excommunicated Caron Butler.
But even in a down season there is a difficult beauty that can be viewed if you angle things just right in the light.
Jeff Adrien was acquired by the Bucks at the trade deadline and has refused to let the losing culture bring a wrinkled forehead to his face. Instead he has used the brisk Milwaukee air to refresh his game and show how he can be a valuable contributor.
In the first 14 games since being acquired, Adrien has posted solid averages of 9.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while chipping in almost a full block and steal per game (0.8 and 0.7 respectively). This includes a 20-point (career-high), 10-rebound and three-block performance against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 7.
The key for the third-year veteran has been playing time. Since arriving in the dairy state he is averaging a career-best 19.4 minutes per game.
If you stretch his Bucks’ averages out over a reasonable per 36-minutes span they equate to a whopping 16.9 points, 13.7 rebounds, 1.4 block and 1.3 steals. OK, maybe that is not whopping to some, but it would be more than serviceable– especially for a team as decrepit in viable frontcourt options as the Bucks have become.
With Larry Sanders all but out for the season, Ekpe Udoh still learning the NBA game, and Zaza Pachulia at his potential’s limit … Adrien should receive ample playing time to develop behind John Henson and Ersan Ilyasova the rest of the way. Henson is clearly ahead on the depth chart and is more important to develop due to his youth, but Adrien seems to be carving out a nice niche in Larry Drew’s puzzling rotations.
That in turn could pay big dividends in the summer when he will become an unrestricted free agent. We aren’t talking “Daddy Warbucks” type cash but perhaps a multi-year deal that can provide him some security going forward. As a rugged rebounder who doesn’t mind playing defense there is a place for him in the league. It’s just a matter of someone taking a shot on him after he inflates his numbers on a bad team to close out the season.