Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview

Sept 26, 2016, St. Francis, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks players Michael Carter-Williams (5) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) wait to be photographed during media day.. Angela Peterson/Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK
Sept 26, 2016, St. Francis, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks players Michael Carter-Williams (5) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) wait to be photographed during media day.. Angela Peterson/Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK /

Can the Milwaukee Bucks rebound and get back to the playoffs after a one year hiatus?

Last year was not the year most Bucks fans had expected. After signing one of the bigger free agent acquisitions in recent Bucks history, they expected to grow from the 41-41 record from the previous season. Instead things took a step back and the team didn’t grow or gel as expected. Monroe hurt the team defensively, little to no growth was seen from Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker, and injuries hurt the team as no player played in all 82 games.

Expectations after the offseason seemed the be high again, but then an injury to Khris Middleton derailed the hope of most fans. Will the new acquisitions of Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic, Michael Beasley, Jason Terry and Tony Snell along with the draft picks of Thon Maker and Malcom Brogdon be enough to improve this team from the dismal season they had last year? It’ll be fun to see as Head Coach Jason Kidd has plenty of lineups to work with.

Who plays replaces Khris Middleton?

The toughest question for the Bucks to answer  is the replacement of arguably their best player last year. Middleton not only was the most consistent player on the Bucks, but he was their best shooter on a team that desperately needed shooting. His minutes will probably go a lot of different ways. Dellavedova will more than likely start at the opposite guard besides Giannis Antetokounmpo and will get some minutes from that would have been Middleton’s, but Delly is also the primary backup point guard so minutes will still need to be given out. The rest of the minutes are probably going to come from a mix of Malcolm Brogdon, Jason Terry, Rashad Vaughn, and Tony Snell. Odds are it will come down to who is the most consistent and plays the best two-way ball. Not only does Middleton’s minutes need to be replaced, but also his three point shooting. Barring no improvements from last year, a lineup of Giannis, Parker, and Monroe will need at least one other shooter on the floor, but preferably two to space. Those three all need space to make their offensive games work and our deadly when given the space in the paint. Expect the Bucks shooting to improve some from last year. With minutes given to guys like Dellavedova, Jason Terry, Teletovic, Steve Novak, and Tony Snell along with improvement from all the young players, the team should rise from its poor . All have proved to shoot the three at an above average rate. Problem will be fitting them into lineups and making sure at least one is out there at all times.

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Not many people around the NBA world got excited with the signings of Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic for the Bucks. Although both players aren’t superstars, they are perfect fits for the Bucks. Kidd seems to be set on Giannis running the point again. The one problem from last year when Giannis ran the point was that he would still be guarding forwards, thus they needed someone else to go out there and guard the opposing point guard. This is why the signing of Dellavedova makes perfect sense for the Bucks. While Dellavedova may not be an elite point guard, he still has exceptional handling and passing skills and can be a combo guard with Giannis in the backcourt. The big reason the Bucks signed him was to play the defense on the opposing point guard. Dellavedova was known as one of the best defensive point guards in the league and anyone who watched him guard Steph Curry in the finals would agree. An added aspect to why Dellavedova makes sense is his 3-point shooting which finished at roughly 40% last year. He may be the perfect fit to play with Giannis in the backcourt for the Bucks. Teletovic won’t be playing point, but his fit will be well needed just as much. Teletovic made more threes last year than anyone on the Bucks, including Middleton. Granted he doesn’t offer much besides his three-point shooting and is only an average rebounder, his shooting exponentially helps Giannis and Jabari grow as someone will have to shadow Teletovic on the perimeter at all times. Teletovic is also known as a chucker and although that can be bad, this Bucks team will sometimes need offense and someone taking shots. Twenty minutes of Teletovic a game should be a big improvement for the bench. The signings of these two players will help the Bucks more than they would have other teams.

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The Big Unknowns

Three players will be coming into the year with question marks on them. Those three are very important to the Bucks and the success of the season. Will point Giannis continue to dominate and work for a full season? Will Jabari finally unleash his potential and be the scorer that people including Kidd have envisioned for the past two years? Will Monroe become a consistent post presence while also being at least an average rim defender for the Bucks? Those three questions may make or break the Bucks season as a lot of the success hinders on if they are with a simple yes. Point Giannis took the NBA by storm last year as he flat out dominated the league from that position. After the All-Star break, Giannis averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists per game which led to multiple triple-doubles. If he can keep that up he would become one of the top players in the league. The same can be said potentially for Jabari Parker. Parker is one of the most athletic players in the league with a very unique skill set. His inability to shoot the three has slowed down his game. He also hasn’t been as aggressive as some people would want him to be in driving to the lane. Coach Kidd has said that he has worked on the 3-point shot so hopefully that paired with a new aggression makes him an elite scorer. He already has good chemistry with Giannis so improvements from both could pay dividends. The final piece to the big unknown is Greg Monroe. Last year was a very disappointing year which led to him being a part of many trade rumors. He did have an excellent inside and post game which is why the Bucks signed him, but they were hoping to cover up his weaknesses on defense. They were unable to and went from ninth in opponents points per game to seventeenth. One of the reasons they made the playoffs in the previous season was because of their defense and the loss of being an elite defense really hurt the team. Will Monroe turn it around? It looks like the team still has faith in him and he did have a good offseason. Having him come off the bench may be a solid move as he can be the primary scorer for the bench unit and anchor the team when the likes of Giannis and Parker aren’t on the floor.

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Overall Predictions

Don’t get your hopes up to high for the season. With Middleton the team had a chance to do some damage in the east, but without him they will be lucky to get the eighth seed. They will be fun to watch with the different options for lineups they have. They will be playing a lot of people in weird positions guarding weird positions which may be an advantage to for the Bucks. Expect something close to 35 wins with Giannis becoming an All-Star. Dellavedova and Malcom Brogdon are who I expect to hold down the backcourt with Giannis for most of the season with the other minutes varying between Snell, Terry, and Vaughn. The center position will be fun and should be very solid this year with Miles Plumlee, John Henson, and Monroe anchoring it down. They all provide a different talent which can be used to take advantage of each of the opposing teams different lineups and bigs they roll out. How many minutes Michael Beasley and first round pick Thon Maker play will be fun to watch. Both will be versatile in where they can play. If Beasley can play some solid defense, something he has never done consistently in his career, he could end up playing a lot for the Bucks. On the other end, if he struggles, other players like Teletovic might provide more for the team. Maker will more than likely be brought along slow like Giannis was as a rookie. He is raw, but has the potential to be a player that has rarely been seen. Dont expect him to play much, but when he does I do think he will contribute to the team. Overall, the team doesn’t look like it will be contending, but with the acquisition and young talent, they will be fun to watch and may even surprise some people at how well they play.