Last season: The Bucks were both bad and unlucky, a combination that sent them to the NBA’s worst record.
Only the Timberwolves fell further short of their Pythagorean win total than Milwaukee, which – based on scoring margin – projected to win 20 games but actually won just 15. That 15-67 record was a franchise worst, but it’s not as if a 20-62 record would have been that much better.
Several key players – Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, and O.J. Mayo – had embarrassingly bad seasons, though injuries also played a part in Milwaukee’s historically awful run.
Just how bad were the Bucks? Their record was worse than the 76ers’.
Signature highlight from last season:
Key offseason moves:
- Drafted Jabari Parker
- Hired Jason Kidd
- Fired Larry Drew
- Claimed Kendall Marshall off waivers
- Signed Jerryd Bayless
- Traded Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica for Jared Dudley
Keys to the Bucks season:
Jabari Parker making the NBA leap: The forward from Duke was touted as the draft’s most NBA-ready player, but that might not mean much to the Bucks, who project to be lousy either way. It’s much more important Parker gets on track for hitting the highest possible peak.
Milwaukee should give him a chance to hit the ground running and play through his mistakes. How that process goes will determine not only how quickly the Bucks can turn it around, but also how high their upside is.
Giannis Antetokounmpo turning potential into production: The Greek Freak showed an extremely impressive array of skills last season. He also just wasn’t that good.
Those are not opposing ideas.
Antetokounmpo has not yet learned how to reliably translate his talent into helping his team – at least not while also avoiding mistakes that harm his squad. Essentially, it’s the difference between Antetokounmpo’s potential and his current level.
He’s just 19, so he has time to figure it all out. It’d be nice to see major signs in his second season.
Getting value for veterans: Two years ago, Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, O.J. Mayo and Jared Dudley were pretty good. All their stocks have fallen dramatically since. If the rebuilding Bucks can repair the value of those veterans, they can trade them for future assets.
Or, if everything goes incredibly well, maybe Milwaukee could even parlay those turnarounds into contending for a playoff berth this season.
Why you should watch: Jason Kidd is going to do some funky stuff.
After Brook Lopez got hurt for the Nets last season, Kidd committed immediately to an unorthodox and small lineup that proved extremely effective. In Milwaukee, it doesn’t seem he’ll slow down.
The positional revolution is happening, and the uprising is strong in Milwaukee.
Prediction: 25-57. Kidd might be creative, but I’m not convinced he’s a good enough coach to fix this mess. Milwaukee’s talent is either too tainted or too young to win right now.
After years of trying to remain relevant by staying mediocre, the Bucks seem to understand their place. They’re rebuilding, maybe even tanking. Another poor season, won’t be the end of the world. At east it will result in a prime draft pick.