The Bucks dabbled in the old and the new when assessing the small forward position this summer. With bench leader Mike Dunleavy bolting for the Bulls and Luc Mbah a Moute shipped off to Sacramento, the Bucks welcomed veterans Caron Butler (hometown) and Carlos Delfino (second stint on roster) back to Milwaukee to complement youngsters Khris Middleton (via trade) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (draft).
With Butler, much has already been made about how good it is for Butler to be back in his home state and how much that will benefit both the team and the community. That was the prevailing narrative even before the media found out that Butler acquired his teammates' contact info via Larry Drew and orchestrated a team dinner prior to media day, where they discussed expectations and what they thought they could accomplish with the new personnel present. Butler, the guy who was the last addition to the 15-man roster, was the one putting this together (and covering the bill, too). The season has just begun and everything is going to be optimistic at this point, but having that type of veteran presence (an ''issue'' I'll address in part 5) may go a long way into the proper development of this team.
The other wing expected to both perform and help bring along the young guys is Carlos Delfino. Though extremely soft-spoken (in front of a microphone where you should be able to grab audio you can't because he's so soft-spoken), Delfino has always been one to earn the respect of his teammates by showing up, knowing exactly what he's capable of, and carrying that out with maximum effort (read: leading by example).
Unfortunately, Delfino will only be able to lead from a reduced role, at least for the beginning of the season. Delfino, who is still in a walking boot, will miss training camp and quite possibly regular season games. It's hard to say though, as there really is no timetable for Delfino's return.
Since Delfino can't go right now, Middleton will be asked to step into the backup role. The second year wing acquired in the Brandon swap hasn't had much game experience since batting back from a knee injury he sustained two summers ago, but was at one point projected to be a first-round pick before the injury slowed him as a junior at Texas A&M in 2012. A decent 3-and-D guy in his small sample size, Middleton could end up being a solid contributor as a backup to Butler. Or he could be a less melodramatic Chris Douglas-Roberts.
And then there was Giannis. The young Greek prospect who (by age, not nationality) can just barely vote for president is already making General Manager John Hammond and Vice President of Player Personnel Dave Babcock giddy. Antetokounmpo isn't expected to play much during the regular season once rotations get set, but Hammond isn't ruling out letting him play a little in the preseason and a handful of minutes during the year.
"I want him to get exposed [to the NBA game--speed, strength, quickness--but not overexposed to where he loses confidence."
Antetokounmpo's potential appears limitless at this point, but the expectations moving forward must be tempered (For now...hang in there). There is enough pressure on the kid who's trying to be a, for lack of a better word, hero to everyone back in Greece. There need not be any extra pressure put on him to produce anything substantial immediately (Though admittedly, the second he uses his insane physical tools to make a play that wows the fans, I can't guarantee that I won't melt into my chair out of unadulterated euphoria).
Even if that pressure does find a way to exist, Antetokounmpo won't let it bother him. As he put it, "Friends, family, basketball. That's all that matters to me. Nobody else can touch me."
(Hey, why am I melting?)
Alright, my apologies. I have to put a song in here.