The Milwaukee Bucks had an impressive 2016-17 season, which saw them finish with a record of 42-40 and make the NBA playoffs. It was a good year to be a Bucks fan as Giannis Antetokounmpo took the next step into becoming a star, while rookies Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker played big time minutes down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Nevertheless, the Bucks are looking to find the next Brogdon and Maker and it begins in the Las Vegas Summer League. The Las Vegas Summer League is the mecca of summer hoops as a majority of the league’s teams are there, watching their rookies and second-year players take their steps in development.
For the Bucks, they have a lot of diamonds in the rough on their summer league roster, who went undrafted but could earn a shot to play for their G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd.
Nevertheless, let’s take a look at who is on the Bucks’ Las Vegas Summer League roster starting with Maker and Rashad Vaughn. This will be Maker’s second summer playing in Vegas, while this will be Vaughn’s third straight summer. It is odd to see a player such as Vaughn, who was drafted in the first round playing in the Summer League three-straight years in a row.
Last year in the Las Vegas Summer League, Vaughn played well, leading the team in scoring with 14.4 points to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. However, he couldn’t carry over his momentum from the Summer League to the regular season as he played a few games with the Westchester Knicks in the NBA D-League, dealt with an ankle injury, and had 27 DNP-CDs.
This may be a make it or break it summer for Vaughn because he has some competition at the guard position on this year’s Summer League roster.
Speaking of the guards, the Bucks’ summer roster is littered with them as they have Bronson Koenig, JeQuan Lewis, Gary Payton II, and Travis Trice. Payton went undrafted last year out of Oregon State and played 49 games in the NBA D-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
With the Vipers, Payton averaged 14.1 points , 6.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 32.7 minutes per game. He was able to showcase his athleticism along with his defense in Rio Grande Valley’s high octane scheme, which eventually caught the eye of the Bucks.
Payton II has a good chance to make the team, but Koening and Lewis are prime candidates to be in the G League with the Herd.
If you watched college basketball over the last four years, then you have heard of Koenig and Lewis. Both players come from programs where they teach and preach defense, but they can also hurt you on the offensive side of the ball too.
On one hand, Koenig can beat you from distance as over his four-year career, he shot 38.9 percent from three-point range. He always made the right play at the right time for Wisconsin, which is why they were able to advance to the Sweet 16 this past season.
Along with his shooting, Koenig can drive to the basket, create for his teammates, and play off the ball.
On the other hand, Lewis is a more athletic version of Briante Weber. They are both the same type of point guard, but unlike Weber, Lewis is a scorer first.
As a senior at VCU, Lewis averaged a career-high 15.2 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 31.2 minutes per game. He also shot 43.7 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three-point range.
Furthermore, another undrafted player to keep your eye on is Reggie Upshaw. If the name sounds familiar, he was a part of the Middle Tennessee State team that upset Michigan State as a 15th seed back in the NCAA Tournament in 2016.
Upshaw is a mid-major player, who you want to root for because he does the little things on the court. He can stretch the floor, set picks and roll to the basket, knock down the perimeter jumper, and can play with his back to the basket.
This past season with Middle Tennessee, he averaged 15.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 32.0 minutes per game. Just like Koenig and Lewis, Upshaw can play some defense too, as he was named to the Conference USA All-Defensive Team this past season.
It should be fun to see if these guys can give the Bucks’ front office brass something to think about as they could be inaugural members of the Wisconsin Herd.