By: Nick Galle
While many eyes are on the Boston Celtics and Philidelphia 76ers this upcoming season in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks have the talent to make an impressive run of their own.
After a season where the Bucks took the Celtics to seven games in the first round of the playoffs, Milwaukee will look to build upon last season with a deep playoff run this year.
With such a talented team, Milwaukee has been on the rise over the past few seasons. With Giannis Antetokounmpo starting to reach his peak, this season could lead to something great, or at least the start of something great for the Bucks.
After Milwaukee lost Jabari Parker, many fans and analysts believed the Bucks took a huge hit to the roster. While Parker was indeed talented, he spent the majority of his time with the team battling injury, making his departure less of a factor than many have made it out to be.
For the Bucks, the young talent has always been there, but the lack of veteran talent has slowed them down. This off-season, Milwaukee was able to add some veteran talent, signing Brook Lopez, and bringing back Ersan Ilyasova. Despite both being past their primes, the veteran leadership skills they they bring to the table could be extremely beneficial for the Bucks.
The key to a successful season for the Bucks will be the play of veteran Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe was atrocious in the playoff series against the Celtics last season, and did not live up to expectations in Milwaukee after a stellar career with the Phoenix Suns.
Bledsoe’s attitude and personality have sparked issues throughout the past few seasons. Bledsoe released a tweet saying how he did not want to be in Phoenix anymore and more recently, Bledsoe made unprofessional comments referring to Terry Rozier after a playoff game against the Celtics.
Bledsoe’s personality is not going to be a huge issue for the team. His remarks come off as immature, rather than troubling or concerning. The problem is that Bledsoe’s play has not been able to back-up his personality in Milwaukee. If Bledsoe can perform at the level that he did in Phoenix, than the Bucks can take a huge step forward this season.
In addition to Bledsoe, Milwaukee has a ton of potential at the guard position with Malcolm Brogdon and Donte DiVincenzo. Brogdon won Rookie of the Year for the 2016-2017 season, but struggled with injury in his second year as a member of the Bucks. DiVincenzo, the rookie from Villanova, averaged 13.4 points and 3.5 assists per game last season, while shooting 48% from the field, helping the Wildcats win a National Championship. The 21-year-old won’t be a superstar right out of the gate, but if he can contribute as a role player with Brogdon playing at the level that he did for the 2016-2017 campaign, than the Bucks back-court could very well be one of the best in the East, led by the trio of Bledsoe, Brogdon, and DiVincenzo.
The most important piece of this Milwaukee team is none other than the Greek Freak himself, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo graces the cover of NBA 2K19 this year, which is just another accolade that the 23-year-old can add to his resume. The Greek Freak’s talent is finally at the point where it is noticed league wide, as Antetokounmpo stuffs the stat sheet and is one of the most versatile players on the court at all times. The Bucks superstar is unique in the sense that he can literally do it all. From defense, to running the fast break, to scoring efficiently, Antetokunmpo cannot be stopped.
With Khris Middleton emerging as a scorer this past season, the duo of Middleton and Antetokounmpo scored a whopping 42% of the Milwaukee Bucks total points during the regular season. The Bucks have the offensive core to be a force in the NBA, and if the surrounding pieces can put it all together this season, Milwaukee could very well give the Eastern powerhouse teams a run for their money this season.
Milwaukee is not going to win an NBA title this year. They are far from that point. With that being said, Milwaukee is certainly on the right track to success. In another five to seven years, it is not impossible that the Bucks win an NBA Championship. The Celtics and 76ers are going to be right alongside them for the ride over the next decade, providing an entertaining brand of basketball in the Eastern Conference.
Our prediction: The Milwaukee Bucks will lose to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals this season.
🥊@Giannis_An34 took his first boxing lesson yesterday…
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 3, 2018
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Cover photo via: Getty Images