The Milwaukee Bucks' 2015-16 season might have ended with a whimper in the standings, but the performances of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton -- particularly after the all-star break -- suggested big things may be in store for the Bucks next season. What kind of production can we expect from the trio next year? And do youngsters Tyler Ennis, Damien Inglis, Johnny O'Bryant and Rashad Vaughn project to have long-term roles next to them? Eric Nehm and Frank Madden discuss that and much more in the latest podcast.
As Eric noted a week ago in his column at Milwaukee Mag, the Bucks were the only team in the NBA featuring three 18+ point per game scorers after the all-star break, with Parker (18.9), Antetokounmpo (18.8) and Middleton (18.8) averaging nearly identical scoring numbers over the season's final 28 games. Giannis also posted a staggering 8.7 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.9 blocks and 23.1 PER in that span, numbers that are pretty impressive when you consider that no one in NBA history has ever done that for an entire season.
Granted, the Bucks' schedule also lightened significantly over the season's final third, and many of the Bucks' best nights came against teams well on their way to the lottery; in short, all of this comes with a grain of salt. But regardless of its sodium content, there's still plenty of optimism to be drawn from the big three's performances down the stretch: merely matching those numbers next season would be impressive for everyone, and there's no reason to think Giannis and Jabari in particular won't continue to sharpen and evolve their games over the summer. And just in case you thought those numbers weren't helping win games -- an area where the Bucks admittedly struggled overall -- note that the Bucks' most-used lineups after the break also did the one thing that matters most: they consistently outscored opponents.
Injuries to Jerryd Bayless and O.J. Mayo ultimately limited the minute totals of Jason Kidd's two most preferred lineups, but it's important to note that the Bucks generally scored a ton of points with Giannis running the point, and nine of their top ten most-used lineups after the break outscored opponents overall (the one that didn't included MCW; poor MCW). A sign of good things to come? We'll have to wait six months to find out.