2015-16 was a bit of a struggle for the Milwaukee Bucks. A team seemingly on the verge of a breakout season seemed doomed from the start.
After pushing the Bulls to 6 games in 2014-15, the Bucks looked to get more athletic and younger. So they traded Jared Dudley and Zaza Pachulia, and brought in Greg Monroe and returned a finally healthy Jabari Parker. The results were a bit underwhelming. While there were definite high spots, including an OT win over Cleveland on the road, there were definitely some low points, including losing to the Lakers.
Despite a season full of strife, it was the perfect situation to get some players in different roles. Giannis Antetokounmpo is now playing point guard at 6’11”, and Miles Plumlee emerged as a very poor man’s DeAndre Jordan, a nice compliment in pick and roll situation with the Greek Freak. Jabari Parker also began to come into his own near the end of the season, as the former No. 2 overall pick in 2014 looked much more explosive after tearing his ACL early in his rookie campaign. If Giannis and Jabari can develop consistent jumpshots to compliment their slashing ability, things could get exciting in Milwaukee.
After some speculation as to if Coach Jason Kidd would return, he’s back with the young Bucks to look to take a shot at the higher-ups in the East. Their best shooter, Khris Middleton, just had surgery to repair a torn hamstring suffered right before camp started, so he’s out for 6 months. While that’s a huge blow to the Bucks, they look to help replace that loss with the addition of Michael Beasley, the former No. 2 overall pick and lefty scorer. The Bucks also brought in Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic to strengthen their three point shooting, something the team finished at the bottom of the league in a year ago.
Then the draft came, and the Bucks drafted the very enigmatic Thon Maker, someone that little is known about outside of his life in North America. The 7’1″ Maker can shoot from distance and is raw as raw can be, but his energy and length will help him adjust to the NBA game.
While it’s unlikely that the Bucks, or anyone else in the East, have anything for the Cavaliers, the Bucks may be the most interesting team to watch in the East this season. A 22 year-old, seven foot tall point guard with All-NBA ability, A 21 year old Jabari Parker emerging, along with some other intriguing pieces will make the deer a tough team to play night in and night out. Greg Monroe off of the bench with Jason Terry and others also add some depth to a team that didn’t have a ton a year ago.
Projected Starting Lineup: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Matthew Dellavedova, Khris Middleton,Jabari Parker, Miles Plumlee. (I know Middleton is hurt most of the season, but when he’s healthy he starts and I have no idea who will play the 3.)
Projected Record: 47-35 (4th in East)
Projected Finish: Lose in 2nd round to Cleveland (*Whispers: The Bucks have the best chance to beat CLE in the East)