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Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks comparisons: The Milwaukee Pistons

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These two teams share more than just geography.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Now by reading the title, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.  Let me explain.  For the last few years, there has been a large amount of interrelation between the two franchises, from player transactions to events which still sadden us. Let's have a look at the recent history of the 'Milwaukee Pistons.'

The Pistons, as their roster is currently constructed, have three former Bucks in Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks.  The Bucks have three former Pistons in Caron Butler, Khris Middleton and Shawne Williams.  Obviously, this is a result of the trade that just went down between the two teams.  Obviously, with the Pistons, Butler was still a former Buck, having spent half of the 2013-14 season in his native Milwaukee as a member of the Bucks before being bought out by the team to pursue a title with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Shawne Williams only spent 25-odd games with the Pistons after being claimed off waivers after being waived by New Orleans after being traded from Miami.  In Miami, Williams was a deadly shooter, going 40 percent from three, a mark which dropped to single digits in his Motown tenure.

Middleton was also only in Detroit for a season after being drafted by the franchise with the 39th pick in 2012.  He only appeared in 27 games, averaging 17.6 minutes and 6.1 points, shooting 31 percent from downtown.  He was then traded to Milwaukee along with Brandon Knight and Slava Kravtsov for Brandon Jennings.  Apparently, Pistons management wasn't keen for him to be included as part of the deal, but it was necessary for the deal's completion.  You can see the hesitation, as Middleton went on to average 12 points a game for Milwaukee, playing 30 minutes a game in every game of the season.  His numbers rose last season, upping his scoring to 13.4 points a game, but adding 4.4 boards and 2.3 assists in the same amount of time as the previous season.  He has shot the ball well in Milwaukee, going .454/.410/.860 over two seasons.  He is now a restricted free agent, and the move to ditch Ilyasova can be seen as an attempt to raise enough cap space to match any offer which will likely be offered by rival teams, including Detroit.

Jennings was drafted 10th by Milwaukee in 2009 and spent the first four years of his career in Wisconsin.  He started off like a house on fire, scoring 55 points in only his 7th NBA game, the youngest ever player in NBA history to score 50 in a game at 20 years and 52 days.  However, his relationship with the Bucks began to deteriorate amidst poor shot selection, questionable defence and maturity concerns.  For a while he performed as part of an excellent offensive duo with Monta Ellis, and before that as a great tandem with Andrew Bogut.  Nevertheless, Milwaukee must be pretty happy for the haul they received for Jennings in Knight, Middleton and Kravtsov, eventually transforming Knight into Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee.  Meanwhile, Jennings has found a new home in Detroit, and has proven to be a very good floor general and, once Josh Smith was released, a somewhat efficient shooter.

Jodie Meeks only spent one season in Milwaukee after being drafted in 2009 (with Jennings) with the 41st pick.  Before being traded to Philadelphia in February 2010 along with Francisco Elson for Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey, he appeared in 41 games, averaging four points in 12 minutes.  He soon found his niche in the league as a three point specialist, first with Philadelphia and then the L.A. Lakers, parlaying his good Lakers stint into a $19 million contract with Detroit.  After a disappointing first season, in which he struggled with back issues, he's looking to improve in year 2.

Ersan Ilyasova, the newest Piston, was drafted all the way back in 2005 by Milwaukee out of Turkey with the 36th pick.  After spending a year in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers, he joined the team for the 2006-07 season.  Interestingly enough, he made his NBA debut for Milwaukee against Detroit, in a 105-97 win (for Milwaukee).  However, after that season, it was decided he needed further development, and signed a two year deal with Barcelona in Spain, winning a championship before returning to Milwaukee for the 2009-10 season.  For his NBA career so far, he has appeared in 453 games (257 starts), averaging 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per game.  He has shot 45 percent from the field, 37 percent from three, and 78 percent from the free throw line for his career.  But, with the return of former No. 2 pick Jabari Parker, plus the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo and imminent payday for Middleton, Ilyasova became expendable.

Of course, there's a sad connection to Milwaukee as well.  Brandon Jennings, former Buck, tragically tore his Achilles in a January encounter at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, ruling him out for the rest of the season.  Who was he guarding?  Former Piston lottery pick Brandon Knight.  This incident is what spurred Van Gundy to acquire Reggie Jackson from OKC, and with Jennings on the road to recovery, the Pistons PG rotation looks strong.

The Bucks are also a team the Pistons can aspire to be like in terms of their rebuild.  In 2013-14, the Bucks won a grand total of 15 games, while Detroit won 29.  In 2014-15, Milwaukee raised their wins by 26, up to a .500 41-41 record.  The Pistons, by comparison, only won three more games than their 13-14 total, and have been stuck in this mediocrity for the last six years.

The Bucks play an exciting style of basketball.  With their roster (no starter is shorter than 6'6"), they play a brand of position-less basketball with shooters and athletes all over the floor.  They have done the opposite of small ball, going for a 6-foot-6 PG in Carter-Williams, a 6-foot-8 SG in Middleton, 6-foot-11 SF in Giannis, a 6-foot-9 PF in Jabari Parker and a 6-foot-10 C in Zaza Pachulia.

On their bench, they have numerous shooters and scorers in Jerryd Bayless and O.J. Mayo, and promising bigs in John Henson and Miles Plumlee.  The shortest Bucks are 6-foot-3 (Tyler Ennis and Bayless) followed by 6-foot-5 O.J. Mayo and 6-foot-6 MCW, with everyone else on the roster being 6-foot-8 or taller.  The Pistons are undersized compared to Milwaukee -- Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks, Anthony Tolliver and Joel Anthony could all be considered undersized for their position, but this is made up for by the immense size up front of Andre Drummond and the still-with-the-Pistons-at-the-time-of-writing Greg Monroe.

Do you see similarities between Milwaukee and Detroit?