The Milwaukee Bucks finished in the seventh seed last season and lost in 7 games to the Kyrie Irving-less Boston Celtics. Many felt that the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks team had the upper hand in that matchup, but ultimately they were eliminated at the TD Garden in game 7. In his tenure with the Bucks, Jason Kidd was never able to meet the expectations for the team after the success of his first season. Next season, however, the Bucks have all the tools needed to finish with home court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Why Home Court Advantage in the Playoffs is the Milwaukee Bucks’ to Lose
Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez make up the major big man additions. In the past couple of years, the big men who received the majority of minutes were Greg Monroe, John Henson, Thon Maker, and Miles Plumlee. With the exception of Maker, none of the Bucks’ big men could stretch the floor and open up the lane for Giannis. Lopez shot the three ball at 34.5% at 4.4 attempts a game. Next season will commence the second spell with the Bucks. During the first stint, he provided floor spacing and shot the long ball with no hesitation. The 2018-2019 season should prove no different. With the combination of both these acquisitions, the lane should open up for Giannis to drive or display his playmaking ability. This should lead to more wins because of the unpredictability of the new Bucks offense.
The two guard positions also needed a boost in shooting options. That’s where the Bucks’ 2018 first round draft selection comes in. The Milwaukee Bucks selected twenty-one year Donte DiVincenzo from Villanova. In his last season at Villanova, he shot the three ball at 40.1%. Also, DiVincenzo won TWO national championships with Villanova. He is a proven winner which is the kind of player the Milwaukee Bucks desperately need. Pat Connaughton was also added to help the spacing of the offense.
It was no surprise when Jason Kidd was fired halfway through last season. He was never able to recreate the success from his first season with the Bucks. Every year the expectations grew higher and the outcomes at the end of each season did not justify his continued employment. Management needed someone who could help Giannis Antetokounmpo reach his fullest potential.
There were many candidates ownership and general manager Jon Horst considered for the job. Ultimately, former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer won out. In the 2014-15 season, Budenholzer led the Hawks to a 60-22 record and the first seed in the Eastern Conference. He has had the whole offseason to integrate his style of basketball. Management and fans hope that he can replicate the same success. Mostly by establishing floor spacing on the offensive side and an overall improved defense.
Jabari Parker, the Bucks former second overall pick, signed with the Chicago Bulls over the offseason. While his scoring output will be hard to replace, the move can also be seen as an addition by subtraction. His absence will have two main beneficiaries, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Parker was never the ideal sidekick for The Greek Freak. A good complimentary player to Giannis’s game would have the following traits: high three-pointer attempt and success rate, ability to create for himself and others, and be a viable option at the end of close games. This describes one of his teammates that has been with him since he was drafted, Khris Middleton. He was the best player on the team before Giannis started his meteoric rise. With Parker gone, Middleton’s output should increase and he could earn his first all-star nod.
Taking the last few seasons into perspective, there is no limit to the ceiling of Antetokounmpo’s improvement next season. Every off-season he has gained a large amount of muscle mass. He now looks like he could easily overpower most of the players in the league. If this is the season the work on his three-point shot translates to an improved three-point conversion percentage, then it could mean a more dangerous Giannis. The threat consistently hit three-pointers should be sufficient to force defenders to play him on the perimeter. This would allow Giannis to be granted a wide variety of options in any offensive scheme.
The Greek Freak deserves to be on a winning team. He has done everything in his power to turn the Bucks into one. This off-season showed that Bucks management has finally realized that they need to do their part in order for the franchise to become a contender for the NBA championship.