Preseason Preview #12: Milwaukee Bucks

Season Goal: Win the East??

This offseason, the most recent Bucks’ acquisition, Brook Lopez, has stated that he believes the Bucks have a great chance to win the East. While the East is highly unpredictable, it seems unlikely that last year’s 7th seed could win the conference. They did have a decent offseason, adding lots shooters to help Giannis. Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez, and Donte DiVincenzo should all space the floor, allowing Giannis to attack the basket more easily. This, in addition to improvements by Giannis, could lead to a surprisingly successful offense and a great finish in the East.

Storylines:

The Greek Freak

Being the most important player on the roster, most of the Bucks’ success will rely on Giannis. He’s almost a perfect player, his only weakness being 3 point shooting, and after improving his scoring output and efficiency every season, Giannis should be in the conversation for MVP. But, the lack of team success is holding him back. In Giannis’ 5 seasons the Bucks’ have failed to get out of the first round or get higher than a 6th seed. If Giannis wants to take the step from All-Star to a true superstar he needs to carry this team to playoff success. Luckily for him, this is probably the best team Bucks’ management has ever put around him. Now the question is, will he make it count?

This year’s team is arguably the best for Giannis for one reason, spacing. The Bucks ranked 22nd in 3P% last year, but the signings of Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova give them 2 more high volume shooters who are a threat from three. This means they now have Middleton, Brogdon, Lopez, Ilyasova, Snell, and Dellavedova who are all above average shooters. This allows Giannis to do what he does best, drive to the basket. Teams will no longer be able to clog the lane because of all the three-point threats around him. Which means Giannis could have a career year and carry the Bucks to new heights this season.

The Budenholzer Era

Despite featuring one of the most talented players in the NBA the Bucks have failed to be one of the better teams in the NBA. After many years of Jason Kidd, who proved to be extremely incompetent after his first year, the Bucks have significantly upgraded their head coach position. The addition of Budenholzer as their coach will hopefully allow the talent on this roster to start working together. A former coach of the year, there is no way adding Budenholzer will make them worse, but it’s unknown if he can make them a true competitor.

The defense should hopefully be improved from 19th in the league now that Jason Kidd’s ridiculous defensive scheme is gone. Additionally, Budenholzer is a great defensive coach. In his first 4 years with the Hawks, he always had an above league average defensive team. This includes a top 6 defense in 2014-15, top 2 in 2015-16, and top 4 in 2016-17. No doubt that his defensive genius along with the talented athletes on the Bucks will make for an elite defense. An improved defense along with the addition of shooters around Giannis may be enough for the Bucks to compete for the Eastern Conference crown.

Depth Chart:

PG: Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Matthew Dellavedova

SG: Tony Snell, Pat Connaughton, Donte DiVincenzo  

SF: Khris Middleton, Shabazz Muhammad

PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan Ilyasova, DJ Wilson

C: Brook Lopez, Thon Maker, John Henson, Tyler Zeller

Salary Cap Situation:

~112M of ~101M cap committed

Expiring Deals: Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton (PO), Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez, Tyler Zeller, Shabazz Muhammad

Bad Contracts: Matthew Dellavedova (2 yrs, 19M), John Henson (2 yrs, 21M)

*All salary data via sportrac*

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