Bucks

Bucks’ Big-Man Dilemma: Could Edey Make a Big Splash?

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On the night of January 23rd, 2023, the iconic Splash Mountain attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, had its very last ride.

Once one of the most popular attractions, Splash Mountain is now gone and has been replaced with a different theme. Though there are many questions circulating around the Milwaukee Bucks’ big-man position, the likelihood of their very own “Splash Mountain” staying open for the 2024-25 season may be more realistic than perceived.

Brook Lopez, now 36 — and 37 come playoff time next season — will be heading into his seventh campaign with the Bucks. This past season saw him average 12.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks over 30.5 minutes per game in 79 games played. He continues to hold his own for being one of the oldest active starting centers in the league.

Father time, however, will always remain undefeated. The big man is headed into the final year of his contract, where he will be owed $23 million. With an injury-riddled finish to their first-round exit at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, the Bucks have an opportunity in the NBA draft to refurbish their current squad not just by getting younger, but also by getting bigger.

The Milwaukee Bucks hold the 23rd and 33rd picks in the 2024 NBA Draft. While a large group of fans want Jon Horst to comprise a package of Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton and potentially Lopez in a trade — whether it be to move up in the draft or for some other mini-blockbuster deal (not gonna happen) — one could look toward the 23rd pick for a Lopez replacement.

As we know, the center position in basketball is slowly dying, but this draft has a decent amount of projected centers going in the first round. Should the Bucks stay at pick No. 23 and want to choose a big man, the elephant in the room could potentially be Zach Edey.

Edey, the 7-foot-4 phenom out of Purdue, has certainly made a splash of his own in the college basketball world. Infamously for being on only the second No. 1 seed team to lose to a No. 16 seed team in NCAA Tournament history, and famously, the very next year, taking Purdue to the championship game in a 75-60 loss to UConn. Though Edey was unable to get through the gauntlet that is the NCAA Tournament, he did average 25.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game in his final season at Purdue.

Additionally, he is a two-time National College Player of the Year, two-time First Team All-American, and 2024 NCAA season scoring leader. While his size was certainly a factor at the college level, it may not shake out the same way for him in the NBA.

As said, the true center position in the NBA has been dying for years. Spurs star Victor Wembanyama, who is also 7-foot-4, took a total of 394 three-point shots this season— 33 percent of his total field goals taken for the year! Whereas Edey… well, he took two three-point shots in his entire collegiate career. In today’s NBA, that is not exactly the norm for the center position.

Nevertheless, height in the NBA is still something to seek. Edey’s ability to play one-on-one defense and create space for rebounds is something the Bucks desperately need after this past disappointing season. In this scenario, it would be a low-pressure situation for Edey to play behind Lopez as a fantastic scorer down low.

It is clear that the Bucks will need a new starting center down the road, but we know the mentality is to win now. If you don’t choose to part ways with Brook, or even if you do, you most likely aren’t going to be making a big-enough move in the offseason to fill that veteran hole.

Should Edey be available, Jon Horst should consider pulling the trigger.

About Andrew Rohan

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