Will They Buck the Trend?

By: John Drumm

The Milwaukee Bucks have been one of the most surprising teams the past couple of years after drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013. Giannis started his career off slow, but after three years in the league, his potential started to show. He started averaging 22s point a game in the 2016-2017 season and became a threat from anywhere in front of the three-point line. Giannis would continue his progression to become a great player by winning back-to-back MVPs in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons. Not all the credit can go to Giannis though, as Khris Middleton has played a big role in the making of the Bucks’ team. Drafted by Detroit and traded to Milwaukee in the 2013-2014 season, Khris started to show immediate improvement by doubling his points per game and eventually becoming a two-time NBA all star. 

With the addition of Khris Middleton, the Bucks were starting to look scary. Having a guard who can play well and space the floor with a power forward almost seven feet tall who shows no fear in the paint, this team had a legitimate chance to make it to the finals (and still do). However, in the 2019-2020 playoffs, they were eliminated in the second round by the 5th seed Miami Heat. That wasn’t just out of the blue, however, as the Bucks were playing average throughout their entire time in the NBA bubble, going 8-10, a surprisingly bad record for the number one seed in the Eastern conference. The bubble was unusual though, as it was difficult for all players participating. 

Now it’s the 2020-2021 season and the Bucks are back at it with major new roster editions. Jrue Holiday, a lockdown defensive-minded point guard, was traded to the Bucks in a four-team deal. This resulted in the Bucks trading away Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three first-round picks and a pick swap. Many questioned if this trade was actually worth it. I believe so. However, there are a few things that went wrong with this trade; they gave up Eric Bledsoe, a solid producer for the Bucks for the past two years and definitely a key to their success, but Jrue Holiday is a good replacement. They also lost depth which is very important to this Bucks team, which now lacks it. 

The starters are a very big part of the team’s success, but when they’re not on the floor, it can be a struggle for the team. The minutes show it as well. Giannis, Khris and Jrue all are averaging more than 32 minutes a game. But despite their flaws, they are still a good team and will place high in the Eastern conference seedings. But will they be able to make it out of the east and into the NBA Finals? 

The Bucks for the last few years have been disappointing in the conference finals, losing to the Raptors in six games in 2019, and losing to the Heat in five games in 2020. Going into these series, Milwaukee were the definite favorites to win, but they fell short. 

Especially now in this current season, where the Eastern conference has gotten so much tougher with the new-look Nets with James Harden and Kevin Durant, the Celtics with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker and the Miami Heat. If the Bucks face any of these teams in the playoffs, which they will, I do not doubt that they will struggle. Overall, the Milwaukee Bucks are an impressive team with great assets like Giannis, Khris and Jrue. However, they need to improve on their depth and prove that they want to win in the playoffs.