Culture of Hoops

Can Giannis Lead the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA Championship?

The Milwaukee Bucks focused this offseason on trying to build the perfect cast around two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. This was an important task as they needed to keep Antetokounmpo, who was playing around with the idea of not re-signing after this season. The way to keep him was by building him a championship winning team. The Bucks seemingly, at least, did the first part as Antetokounmpo signed a supermax extension to stay with the team for five more years. Now, time will tell if the Bucks can achieve their goal of a championship. 

The Bucks started the offseason with a massive trade in which they acquired Jrue Holiday in a multi-team swap. They gave up George Hill, Eric Bledsoe, and three first round picks to secure Holiday. No matter how much the Bucks gave up, it was worth it as they went all out to keep Giannis. Holiday is an excellent player with career averages of 16 points, 6.4 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. In addition, he’s made the All-Defensive team twice and was an All-Star back in 2013. Khris Middleton (a Milwaukee staple since his sophomore year) is the final piece to create a lethal backcourt. The two-time All-Star is currently averaging 22.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Both he and Khris Middleton are great two-way guards that can help ease the scoring load from Antetokounmpo while holding their own on the defensive side of the court. 

The Bucks also attempted to trade for Bogdan Bogdanovic in a deal that was seemingly all but completed. However, Bogdanovic ended up on the Hawks after that deal was littered with tampering, mixed promises, and other ugly traits from the business. In hindsight, it was a positive, as Bogdanovic is out indefinitely with a fractured knee. Of course, that injury might not have happened if he was with the Bucks, but, still. Losing out on Bogdanovic was a small blow in an otherwise successful offseason. After the trade fell through, the Bucks turned their focus to the free-agent market.

Their biggest free-agent signing was Torrey Craig, who had come off of a good stint with the Denver Nuggets. Craig was a great two-way guard off the bench and will surely bring the same sort of presence to the Bucks team. They also signed guard Bryn Forbes from the San Antonio Spurs. Forbes is a knockdown shooter and provides sound scoring off the bench. However, his defense is definitely a liability, but off the bench he will be purely a microwave. A similar player, but in the forward position, is Bobby Portis, who is a great bench player who is having a career year offensively averaging 10 points and eight rebounds a game, but is lacking defensive end. On an already good defensive Bucks team, their defense is unlikely to stick out, though their offensive input helps.

At the time of writing this, the Milwaukee Bucks sit at 9-5, good enough for second place in the East. Giannis is back in MVP form, averaging 27.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. Holiday and Middleton are doing a great job playing as the second and third stars, averaging 15 points and 22 points per game, respectively. Also, the Bucks are averaging 117.9 points per 100 possessions. This is well above the record set by the Dallas Mavericks at 115.3 points last season. It’s a great sign for the Milwaukee Bucks that their offense is able to produce at such a high level. 

At this point in the season, obviously still very early, it looks as if the Bucks have succeeded in building a team that can make a run to the NBA Finals and win it. The Bucks have already won this season just by getting Giannis to sign the contract extension, but they can make it even sweeter if they win the NBA Finals this season.

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