Photo Credit: NBA.com
The look at all 30 NBA teams continues as we end the Eastern Conference with the Milwaukee Bucks as the #1 seed. Check out previous teams by clicking on the team name: Hornets / Wizards / Knicks / Pistons / Cavs / Bulls / Magic / Hawks / Raptors / 76ers / Pacers / Nets / Heat / Celtics.
The Bucks offseason was great because Jimmy Butler left Philly, Kawhi left the East, and no true superstars joined the east (that will be healthy this year). The team actually lost some key pieces from last year. The only real addition the Bucks made this offseason was adding in Wes Matthews who can be a talented 3 and D player but won’t make up what they lost. Malcolm Brogdon was a very underrated player for the Bucks last year and his loss alone will be a big hit for the Bucks. Brogdon shot 43% from 3 to help spread the floor but was also a capable ball-handler and passer averaging 4.5 assists per game. Nikola Mirotic also left the Bucks and he was more crucial to the Bucks success last year then numbers might show. His ability to play small ball and let Giannis be alone on the inside was huge for the Bucks, his loss will make Brook Lopez much more important to the team’s success. The Bucks will be a much thinner team than last year, but resigning Middleton and keeping Giannis was the focus for them, and that worked well.
G: Eric Bledsoe
G: Wes Matthews
F: Kris Middleton
F: Giannis Antetokoumpo
C: Brook Lopez
Bench: George Hill, Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova, Pat Connaughton, and DJ Wilson
The key to the Bucks will continue to be having shooters around Giannis. This starting lineup does that, the question will be can the bench shoot at a high enough rate to be effective. Eric Bledsoe will also become more important as the 3rd option with Brogdon gone to Indiana. He will need to get out of the postseason issues he has had in the past.
Prediction: 63-19 (1st in East) / Eastern Conference Finals.
I have the Bucks winning the East by 9 games over Boston, and 17 games over 3-6. The Milwaukee Bucks are really in a class of there own it seems in the East while Kevin Durant is out. They have easily the best player in the East, and a good enough supporting cast. The downfall could be depth as the playoffs go on and injuries start to take place a deeper team could unseat them. That is where Boston could take advantage of the Bucks if Tatum and Hayward pan out. Overall smart money would be on the Bucks to emerge from the Eastern Conference. If Giannis gets a jump shot, the rest of the East should pray for mercy.
It’s simple and complicated: KEEP GIANNIS. Giannis is an insane player and right now he seems very happy in Milwaukee, but we have seen small markets struggle to keep their stars. Paul George seemed happy in Indiana until 4 straight years of coming up just short, and the team unable to pay a top star to join him. That is just the most recent, all the way back to Shaq in Orlando small markets have struggled to hold on to their stars because even if you can get them to enjoy your city is tough to lure another star for them to play with. Even LeBron left is home team before coming back. The Bucks NEED to make an NBA Finals in the next 2 years to have any chance. Last year they were an up and coming team, and that’s fun for a year, but if they keep losing before the Finals it quickly becomes a stale situation. The Bucks need to throw everything they have at making the finals now. If that means trading future picks for depth than that’s what they have to do. Keeping Giannis is everything to this organization, and while it all seems happy now a lot can happen in 2 years to make Giannis think the grass is greener in a big city.
*Everything in this article was discussed with Louie Snyder