On July 3, the Milwaukee Bucks announced their 2014 NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas. Among the 12 players hoping to impress coaches and personnel this upcoming week are former Wisconsin Badgers Ben Brust and Jordan Taylor.
To look at their prospects heading into summer league play, we sought perspective from Eric Buenning from BrewHoop.com -- our SB Nation cousins who cover the Milwaukee Bucks. Check 'em out for all your Milwaukee Bucks news and insight. Frank, Eric and the staff have been great, especially with the recent saga involving new head coach Jason Kidd.
Jake Kocorowski (JK): The 2014 Milwaukee Bucks summer league roster was announced on Thursday. Former Wisconsin Badgers Ben Brust and Jordan Taylor add some #B1G flavor (along with Purdue"s JaJuan Johnson) to the roster that includes 2014 draft picks Jabari Parker and Johnny O'Bryant, along with current Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nate Wolters and Chris Wright. Overall, how does the Bucks roster shape up heading to Las Vegas?
Eric Buenning (EB): It's hard to say how the guys will look, but on paper this team appears to be pretty fun. Having Jabari Parker on your team is intriguing enough, but adding Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nate Wolters, and two local collegiate players should have fans all across Wisconsin tuning in to watch some exhibition basketball. When was the last time that happened?
Again, we don't know how well all these parts will mesh in such short time. However, this could be the Bucks most talented Summer League roster since they started heading out to Vegas, so let's hope we can continue to watch them late into the second week of the tournament.
JK: Brust and Taylor are two of many Wisconsin basketball fan's darlings. Brust holds the school record for three pointers made, while Taylor shattered the NCAA assist-to-turnover ratio while a Badger. How much time will the two see on the court to showcase their skills not just to the Bucks but other NBA teams?
EB: Well, you'd have to figure that Nate Wolters will get as many minutes as needed, given that he's on the Bucks roster and his development is of a higher priority than that of any other guard on the roster. That leaves four guards for the remaining starting guard spot. My guess is Gilbert Brown--who's listed at 6'6"--will get that other starting spot.
While I do imagine Brust and Taylor will get a few chances to showcase themselves, it's hard to imagine them sharing the backcourt, given their size. That leaves them having to split the backup point guard minutes, which could lead to staggered stints of play that doesn't allow either of them to get in much of a rhythm. Maybe the coaching staff will use them differently, but my guess is we won't see as much of them as we'd like to. They'll have to make the most of their select opportunities if they want to catch the attention of the Bucks or another team.
JK: Both players are listed at 6'1", so they're undersized as NBA guards, yet Brust collected 5.1 and 4.5 rebounds per game his last two seasons at UW. Where do you see Brust excelling in Jason Kidd's new scheme, and where do you see him needing to adjust his individual game for the professional level?
EB: My apologies, but I'm not exactly well versed in Kidd's scheme as I'd like to be at this point. I imagine we'll get a glimpse of it once Summer League begins.
For Brust--and any former Badger for that matter--he'll have to show that he's not a product of the system. His shooting ability will stick around and will always be valued by teams, but I imagine Brust will have to show that he can create shots off the dribble as well as create for others. Brust didn't have to show large amounts of ingenuity while at Madison, but if he wants to make it in the pros, that will be mandatory.
JK: Taylor's played overseas in Italy after spending time with the Atlanta Hawks summer league squad in 2012 (oddly enough, he played for former Hawks and Bucks head coach Larry Drew's staff). How can Kidd's staff help Taylor develop his skills further?
EB: Again, I'm not totally sure on Kidd's staff and their plans, but Taylor always struck me as a guy that needed his jump shot to be consistent in order for him to be truly effective. Like you mentioned, that AST/TO ratio was bananas, but if Taylor is going to take care of the ball that well, he's going to need to find a way to do damage while he has it. He's not terribly explosive from what I remember, but he has a good frame and solid strength to attack the basket with. The problem is that teams could probably pack the paint on him and allow him to live or die by the jumper. If Taylor could be a consistent threat from the midrange and out, he could probably find a way onto a team's bench as a useful role player. But he's going to need to be a respectable shooter to get to that point.
JK: Realistically, how do you expect Taylor and Brust to perform starting this Friday in the summer league, and is there a chance one or both have a chance to get an invite to the Bucks regular season training camp later this year?
EB: I don't expect to be amazed by the play of either guy, but don't think they'll look completely lost either. Brust has a decent chance to become a random fun three point threat (aka the John Shurna Award), but I don't see either guy getting a training camp invite with the Bucks when all is said and done. They may find their way onto a roster one day, but I just don't think they'll generate enough appeal in such limited time for the Bucks to give them an offer. We'll see in one week, though.