Melo and Paul George joining MVP Russ on the Thunder; Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague forming a fearsome foursome with young studs KAT and Wiggins on the T-Wolves; and Paul Millsap teaming up with Jokic to give the Nuggets a stacked front-court were some some of the most electric moves of the NBA off-season that allowed me to keep my sanity when the only sport to watch was mid-season baseball in July and August. Nice! The 35-67 Phillies won a close 5-3 game over the 56-50 Padres. That’s so awesome! Ehh fuck that and fuck yes for the 2017 NBA off-season being probably the craziest, most blockbuster off-season in NBA history. 7 All-Stars changed teams as NBA GMs were throwing picks, money, and the future at anyone that could give them 18 plus a game. I loved it.
BBBBUUUUUUUUTTTTTTT, the moves were, in all honesty, probably just a waste of excitement and awe because every important trade and signing featured a top East player moving to the West in an attempt to scratch at the ankles of the Warriors atop their pedestal of that conference. Yes, I’m aware they lost to the Rockets last night, but you don’t go 15-1 in the playoffs the year before, hardly lose anyone, and just become a regular Joe team again after an opening night loss. The Warriors are still big brother, but the rest of the teams in the West are deep into puberty and can start putting up a fight.
The moves weren’t entirely in vain though, at least indirectly. Without a doubt, the team that benefited the most from all the NBA off-season insanity are our very own Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks have one of the top 5 players on the planet in Giannis, three big veteran presences in Middleton, Monroe, and Dellavedova, along with a plethora of potential in Brogdon, Thon, and DJ Wilson. That’s not even mentioning the 3 and D master Tony Snell and the eventual return of the Bucks 2nd best player, Jabari Parker. The Bucks have all the makings of a top playoff seed, and thanks to the West, the East is wide open for them to go prove their worth. Literally a dream come true in terms of developing and experience for every head coach and GM out there. The Cavaliers, Celtics (even with the loss of Hayward), Wizards, and Raptors are still some of the top teams in the league, but so are the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s time to show up starting tonight against one of those top teams, the Boston Celtics.
Point: Malcolm Brogdon
The reigning Kia Rookie of the Year has the shooting, defense, size, and smarts to become one of the best floor generals in the league. He’s not going to iso or pick and roll every other play like many of the top scoring points in the league, but he’s definitely going to give you timely shots, great passes, and solid perimeter defense. He’s on his way to becoming one of the must trusted 1-guards in the league comparable to Tony Parker in his hey day, but more athletic and electrifying.
Wing: Kris Middleton
The biggest overall need in the NBA is floor spacing. Shooting and spacing are king in the league today where hand checking and a little body are fouls every single time. Kris is literally the perfect 3 guard. He’s 6’8″ and a career 40% 3-point shooter. He’s the prototypical 3 and D wing.
Wing: Tony Snell
Tony Snell walked into the Bucks organization as a role player, stepped up as a starter when Jabari went down, and calmly hit 41% of his 3s while often guarding the best player on the court last season. How did we get him again? Oh yeah, we traded Michael Carter Williams straight up for him. Yes, Michael Carter Williams. Who’s that you ask? He’s irrelevant now, so it doesn’t matter. Snell and Middleton are the second best 3 and D wings in the league, even better than Thompson and Durant in my opinion.
Star: Giannis Antetokounmpo
I don’t know what position to give him because he can do it all at the highest level. He should be the MVP this year, plain and simple. Anything less is a let down. There’s too many mouths to feed on the Warriors, Thunder, Celtics, and Cavaliers. Harden and Leonard have too many tough match-ups all season. Giannis is primed for a MVP caliber season whether people think it or not. He’s battled the haters, and won, over and over again going from a 17 year old project to an All-Star starter before he’s even turned 23. Give him the trophy now.
Stretch Center: Thon Maker
I won’t lie. I hated the Thon pick at the time. There was a lot of controversy about his past, and he hadn’t really proved himself at any level other than high school. I warmed up to him so fast though when I heard he was a gamer and realized that he’s learning from someone who is basically the same player as him with a very similar story, but a bit smaller and more coordinated, in Giannis. Then, Thon averaged 37% from three and blocked 0.5 shots in under 10 minutes a game as a starter as a rookie when he was suppose to be a project. Expect Most Improved consideration for him.
Rebounding Post/6th Man: Greg Monroe
I think Monroe is the anchor of the team. He’s done everything he’s been asked after coming to the Bucks even though he was expecting to be the focal point of the team after choosing them in free agency 2 years ago. He’s coming off the bench, rebounding, and playing defense for them without being given many touches on offense. He’s even still converting those chances at 53% as he’s one of the Bucks most efficient players. We couldn’t do it without him
Back Up Point: Matthew Dellavedova
Delly struggled shooting the 3 last year, but averaged more assists than he had every other year in his career. The latter is the kind of play we need out of him in 2017-18. We need him to come off the bench, give Brogdon a rest, lead the floor, and make plays for others on the court. Stay gritty and selfless Delly.
Back Up Stretch: DJ Wilson
Hopefully DJ steps right in and becomes the new and improved Mirz. No offense to Mirz, but every time he comes in the game he either misses a three or turns the ball over. DJ Wilson is 6’10” athletic, stretch that can rebound, defend, and shoot the 3. If Teletovic is used over him, in the same position, it would be a travesty.
Future Starting Stretch: Jabari Parker
We probably won’t get him back until after the All-Star break coming off his second ACL tear, but I’m not giving up on Jabari. I think he can still be a star in this league. He can dribble, drive, and sometimes shoot. He just needs to stay healthy. I think he’ll come back strong for the second half of the season and deep into the playoffs, earning a max offer sheet when he’s a restricted free agent this summer.
Wednesday, October 18th, versus the Boston Celtics: Opening Night
Friday, October 20th, versus the Cleveland Cavaliers: Beat Big Brother
Tuesday, October 31st, versus the Oklahoma City Thunder: Can They Play with the West
Saturday, December 16th, versus the Houston Rockets: Can They Play with Contenders in the West
Monday, January 1st, versus the Toronto Raptors: Playoff Revenge
Friday, January 12th, versus the Golden State Warriors: Are They a Championship Caliber Team
Friday, February 23rd, versus the Toronto Raptors: Potentially Jabari’s Coming Out Party
Tuesday, February 27th, versus the Washington Wizards: Can They be a Top 2 Seed
Monday, March 9th, versus the Cleveland Cavaliers: Are They Ready for the Playoffs
Thursday, March 29th, versus the Golden State Warriors: Can They Win it All
Seed: #2 behind #1 Cleveland
Round 1: #2 Milwaukee Bucks versus #7 Philadelphia 76ers
Bucks in 5 in a match-up of the Eastern Conference powerhouses of the future. Two top 10 NBA players will face off in Giannis and Embiid with chances for even more future All-Stars and All-NBA players in Simmons, Fultz, Parker, and Thon.
Round 2: #2 Milwaukee Bucks versus #3 Boston Celtics
Bucks in 6 against the Defending Eastern Conference Champion Celtics. The loss of Hayward for the season proves to be deadly for the Celtics because he was their best bet in matching against Giannis. Tatum and Brown aren’t solid enough defenders with enough experience to stay in front. Combinations of Brogdon and Middleton can stifle Kyrie, and Thon can handle Horford with height and athleticism. Shooting will also be huge for the Bucks during the series.
Conference Championship: #1 Cleveland Cavaliers versus #2 Milwaukee Bucks
Cavs in 6 against the up and coming Bucks. I hope I eat my words here, but the Bucks just aren’t deep enough to win 4 out 7 against the Cavaliers veteran, championship-built team. This will be a huge year in the development of legitimacy for the Bucks, but not the year of the title just yet. Here’s to another shitty year of Cavaliers versus Warriors.
I hope the Bucks can turn into the San Antonio Spurs of the East. Perennial conference championship appearances and NBA Final wins all because of the home grown talent and loyalty they have to the franchise. They have the youth and the talent to be one of the best NBA franchise for years to come.