The Milwaukee Bucks struck gold when they drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo. He has grown both physically and skill-wise over his seven seasons in the league. This season is no different averaging career highs in points (29.6) and rebounds (13.7). The only thing lacking in his game is the ability to shoot the three-pointer where he hovers around 30%.
Quality Supporting Cast
The Bucks have plenty of quality depth, but, as you might expect, their success is driven by Giannis. They are 5-3 this season without him in the lineup, 48-9 with him in the lineup. But he’s probably about to win his second MVP, so that stands to reason. The issue really is your next best players are Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez. Middleton has been an All-Star and is easily one of the best shooters in the league but I can’t imagine Bucks fans are too excited about paying him $30M+ over the next four seasons. Can he really be the second-best player on a championship team? The Bucks are about to find out.
I think Bledsoe is the real x-factor on this team. He’s really talented but has been a disappointment for one reason or another at every stop. He’s been good, averaging about 15 points per game but he’s just an average shooter and his defensive numbers have slipped this season. For the Bucks to win it all, I think he really has to become a problem for opposing teams rather than just a pretty good player.
Falling Short Again
With a 6.5 game lead on the Raptors, the Bucks have all but clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Their first-round opponent should be the Zombie Nets that will drop to the 8th seed over the course of the seeding games. The second-round should bring the Heat or Sixers, either one of which would be beat up from a great first-round series. I think the Bucks will ultimately fall short of the NBA Finals, losing to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Future Hinges on Giannis
Middleton, Bledsoe and Lopez are signed through 2023 and the Bucks are focused on signing Giannis to an extension beyond 2021. It may mean more money for him to simply sign sooner than later before a shrinking salary cap, temporary or not, means his max contract is smaller. If they don’t win it all this year and this is essentially the team they will have going forward, he may wonder if his better chance at a title is elsewhere in the league.