We've written at length about why the Bucks' big breakthrough might have to wait until 2016, though it's not just fans trying to manage expectations for Milwaukee. GM John Hammond recently shared a similar sentiment with Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
"We're going to try to go from good to good," Hammond said, quoting Kidd. "I think we were a surprise team this season. Nobody expected us to do what we did. Now, can we just be good again and gradually take that step. To go from good to great is often difficult. So we're just trying to find some consistency, especially with our youth and build off that."
You can't blame Hammond and company for trying to manage expectations; they won't be sneaking up on anyone after bumping their win total by a whopping 26 games last season, and losing three key veteran rotation pieces in Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova and Jared Dudley will require young guys to step up both on and off the court.
Among those young guys is of course Jabari Parker, and to no one's surprise the Bucks will veer on the side of caution as they work him back into the rotation following ACL surgery in January.
"I get asked two questions every single day. No. 1 is, how's Jabari? And No. 2: How soon will Jabari be back to play?" Hammond said with a chuckle. "I answer the first one very easily and say he's doing absolutely great. His rehab is going well. The second answer: We're going to be very conservative with him. If we think he's capable of playing 20, we'll maybe play him 10 minutes. If we think he can play a back-to-back, we'll wait on the back-to-back. Whatever it is, we're going to be very cautious as he move forward because of the magnitude of who he can be and who we hope he can be for our organization going forward."
EuroHoops: Giannis looks forward to Greek national team, recounts favorite on-court chatter
No major revelations in Giannis Antetokounmpo's latest blog diary, though there are some amusing stories about verbal exchanges with Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, and Marcin Gortat. Not surprisingly, Giannis is now focusing on his national team obligations with Greece, having flown to Greek training camp after Saturday's NBA Africa Game. I haven't seen Greece's warm-up schedule yet (any of our Greek friends help with this?), but their first official game at EuroBasket 2015 (aka the European Championships) is on September 5.
UPDATE: George B from our comments section comes through with the following schedule:
August 9: Belgium-Greece (friendly game in Belgium)
August 14-15: Tournament in Turkey (Greece,Turkey,Bosnia,Tunisia)
August 21-23: Tournament in Greece (Greece,Bosnia,Russia,Czech Republic)
August 27-29: Tournament in Greece (Greece, Turkey, Lithuania, Holland)
D-League Digest: Pacers expected to buy Fort Wayne Mad Ants, leaving no unaffiliated D-League teams
The Indiana Pacers are reportedly close to buying up the last unaffiliated D-League team, which would leave the Bucks among eleven teams without their own affiliate. They previously shared the Mad Ants with a dozen other teams, so expect this move to renew talk of all teams eventually getting their own D-League franchise.
The Bucks haven't exactly been big users of the D-League over the past five years, calling up their share of 10-day types but mostly ignoring it as a tool for developing their own younger players. Yes, Ramon Sessions and Ersan Ilyasova did spend significant time in the D-League before eventually breaking through in Milwaukee, but over the past five years it's mostly been a place for the likes of Joe Alexander, Darington Hobson and Doron Lamb to rot before being shipped out.
Eschewing the D-League as a training ground isn't necessarily a bad thing; even if a young player doesn't play consistently, there are advantages to having him practice and travel with NBA players and coaches. That's especially true for the eleven NBA teams that don't own their own D-League and thus have even less control of what happens with their guys when they're not with the big club. Still, there is an obvious appeal in having a minor league option -- preferably nearby -- where young players could get live game action or veterans could get minutes as part of a rehab assignment. Nothing appears to be imminent for the Bucks, though it's a fun topic to debate. Where would you want to put a Bucks' D-League affiliate?
Social Media Highlights
The AntetokounmBros were together in Africa over the past week, with Giannis scoring a game-high 22 points on Saturday (see highlights above) and younger brother Kostas winning the halftime Basketball Without Borders three-point shooting contest (h/t Denver Stiffs). Speaking of Kostas, the 6'9" rising senior at Dominican now has scholarship offers from Memphis and Iowa State and has also drawn interest from St. John's, Arizona St. and Texas despite a rather raw game.
The greatest Buck meets the next great Buck? Jabari Parker is a huge student of the game, so you know the chance to meet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a major thrill. Maybe next time he'll spell his name right, too :)