The first week of the NBA season was decidedly unkind to the Milwaukee Bucks, thanks in large part to a defense that's been last in the league by a wide margin. We expected some regression defensively after a season that saw Jason Kidd's club go from worst to elite, but nothing quite like this. While the sample remains decidedly small, the Bucks are last in the league in opponent three point shooting allowed (46.4%!) and defensive rebounding, and they've struggled to force turnovers after leading the league a year ago.
Still, it's not all bad in Milwaukee -- far from it. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been brilliant since sitting out Wednesday's opener due to suspension (23.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 71.8% true shooting), while Greg Monroe also piled up big numbers in his first week in Milwaukee. Considering the Bucks' long-term hopes are banking on it, Antetokounmpo's ascension matters far more than opening week losses, and it's also unlikely the Bucks keep losing if Giannis becomes an all-star caliber player. Knock on wood.
In our latest podcast, Eric Nehm and I discussed the importance of Giannis' improvement, early impressions of Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams, the challenges with the defense, and what we're seeing from the Bucks' improved offense after Sunday's loss in Toronto (apologies for the choppiness of the audio at times). You can subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes or listen/download below: