No team failed to capitalize on its vast potential more than the Milwaukee Bucks last season. After exciting the league and surprisingly making the playoffs two years ago, the Bucks lost much of what made them great and fell back down into the lottery.
Still, they might have discovered something that should terrify the league: Point Giannis! Jason Kidd moved Greek Freak to point guard for the last third of the season to hide his lack of shooting. It wasn’t always pretty, but when it worked it ignited the Bucks’ offense and defense to a level that should scare the rest of the league. Assuming Antetokounmpo starts at the 1 next season, and Kidd has indicated he will, the Bucks will have an incredible amount of length on defense and create tons of mismatches when they have the ball.
Still, the Bucks will need a great deal of in-house improvement if they want to get back to the playoffs next season. Giannis and Jabari Parker need improved jump shots. So does Michael Carter-Williams (if the Bucks don’t give up and move him, that is). They’ll also need to grow as a team defensively.
The No. 10 pick is a nice spot for them to get a player who can either help the team’s defense at the rim or provide shooting on the perimeter. A guy like Jakob Poeltl or Skal Labissiere makes almost as much sense as someone like Denzel Valentine. The Bucks can happily take whoever remains as the best player available.
With Antentokounmpo, a multi-talented wing in Khris Middleton and a still developing Jabari Parker, the Bucks have the makings a “big three.” The center spot remains a question mark. Greg Monroe tries hard, but doesn’t have the speed or the smarts to protect the rim well enough. He adjusted well to coming off the bench late last season as his offensive polish killed other team’s second units. It wouldn’t be surprising to see that continue.
The biggest hole the Bucks have is their shooting. They ranked in the bottom third of the league in three-point percentage as a team and no team took fewer shots from deep per game. Playing Giannis at point should create a few more drive-and-kick opportunities and the Bucks need players who can capitalize on them. The best way for Parker to become a force is to continue to extend his range. They Bucks will also have plenty of cap space, close to $30 million and should throw money at either young shooters like Evan Fournier, Allen Crabbe, or more experienced players on shorter contracts like Courtney Lee and Arron Afflalo.
Last season was definitely a disappointment, but there were stretches where the Bucks showed the potential that made everyone fell in love with them. Point Giannis recorded all four of his franchise record triple-doubles after the All-Star break. Project that over a whole year and the league should be very afraid of what the Bucks are capable of next season.