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Jason Terry talks Bucks signing, ESPN's RPM-based projection says 41 wins for the Bucks

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Terry is officially a Buck, and not surprisingly he's saying all the right things (except when he tries to pronounce Antetokounmpo...or Dellavedova or Teletovic). From his show on SiriusXM:

Terry's admiration for former teammate and coach Jason Kidd is predictably mutual; here's what Kidd had to say to the Houston Chronicle about JET back in February:

"Jet's the best," Kidd said. "He's one of my all-time favorite teammates. We won a championship together. I think he surpassed me in made 3s even though I can't shoot. The last time he was here, that was his last dunk. He's a true vet and I hope he plays as long as he can because we need more vets like him to be able to teach the younger guys to play the right way."

Projected records, win totals, standings for every NBA team's 2016-17 seaso | ESPN
A year ago, Kevin Pelton threw some cold water on any preseason Bucks optimism with a 37-win projection that ultimately proved rather prophetic (and, frighteningly, even that proved optimistic). This year, Pelton's forecast should at least give Bucks fans some encouragement. as ESPN's RPM-based projection has the Bucks finishing seventh in the East with 40.9 wins.

The Bucks have oscillated between wildly under- and overperforming projections. If that trend holds, this should be the year for exceeding expectations, and RPM views both Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic (minus-0.6) as upgrades.

While no one would consider the Bucks' summer particularly splashy, Dellavedova (+0.68) and Teletovic (-0.47) both look far better according to RPM than the outgoing Jerryd Bayless (-2.13) and Johnny O'Bryant (-4.94), so it's a matter of both addition by modest addition and addition by subtraction.

Of course, not really factored into this is what's really important: major growth from both Giannis Antetokounmpo (a good-but-not-elite +1.11 last year) and Jabari Parker (a still-young-and-not-helping -3.19). We can debate which guy's improvement is more critical; another Giannis leap will take him into the league's elite (the Bucks will need that if they're ever going to really matter), but the Bucks also need Jabari to be demonstrably good, which is a long way from what he was in aggregate last season (and similarly essential for the Bucks' long-term hopes).

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Solving the Bucks' defensive issues has been a common talking point since early last season, but Brett Koremenos writes that there's also plenty the Bucks can do to better utilize their burgeoning roster offensively as well:

It’s not hard, especially now with more shooting in the fold, to envision Milwaukee as a up-tempo, free flowing offensive attack -- think of something like the "star-less" Nuggets under George Karl or any Mike D’Antoni coached team. This is a team built to push the ball, attack quickly in transition or free-flow into basic actions (drag screens, wide pin downs for Middleton) early in the offense. Now with more shooting in tow, the Bucks could survive slowing the tempo a bit better, but it would still be less than ideal.

I wish we had more detailed data on this in the public domain, but it did feel like the Bucks went away from their heavy reliance on "push" sets after the all-star break -- ie fewer sets began with a pass to Greg Monroe at the left elbow/wing followed by a series cuts. That wouldn't be a surprise given the increased emphasis on putting the ball in Giannis Antetokounmpo's hands and the de-emphasis of Monroe's role in the Bucks offense, and we know for sure that the Bucks' average number of elbow touches per game went from 24.6 before the break to 22.6 after it, though they still tied with Utah for the league lead in that category for the season (23.9).

We also know they ran more, as their fast break scoring jumped from 12.7 points per contest before the break to 16.0 after it, while their opponent fast break scoring actually declined slightly from 13.1 to 12.9 points per game. That's important because increasing pace isn't helpful if it's also creating just as many easy buckets for the other guys, and overall the Bucks managed to both increase their own scoring (from 101.6 to 103.3 points/100 possessions) while also conceding fewer points to opponents (106.0 to 105.2). It's all possibly just the result of an easier post-break schedule, but it's still progress, especially given the Bucks' lineups were skewing increasingly younger as the season wound down. It's also a major reason why you can't fault the Bucks for wanting to see how far the Point Giannis experiment can take them. What do they have to lose?

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Matt Moore muses on the Bucks' uncertain-but-bright future:

Milwaukee we know very little about. Do they make a leap back? Was 2015 a bizarre outlier? Is Antetokounmpo a superstar lying in wait, or another jack-of-every-possible-trade-master-of-none? This is what makes Milwaukee interesting this season. They have a lot of potential, but potential, as the saying goes, gets coaches fired. They're a puzzle of unsolved ability, and something, or someone, needs to put it together.

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James Herbert writes:

Australia counted on Dellavedova, not Patty Mills, to be their primary playmaker in Rio de Janeiro. He averaged 7.0 assists, more than anybody aside from Lithuania's Mantas Kalnietis, to go with his 8.9 points per game. Arguably more important: he averaged only 1.4 turnovers, and his defense looked even better/more annoying than it does in the NBA. In Milwaukee, Dellavedova will once again share the court with another creator, 6-foot-11 point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and his role will be roughly the same. Don't be surprised if Delly is in the starting lineup.

You may recall that we recorded a podcast about Delly's impressive Olympic run a couple weeks ago, and our major takeaway was along the lines of "hey, that's cool." Assuming a guy stays healthy, it's obviously never a bad thing for him to perform well for in the Olympics. But I'd also stop short of saying it's a big deal either: Dellavedova did mostly the same things in Rio that we saw him do in Cleveland, so it's not like he showed off some new set of skills. However, he did remind us that he can play efficient, productive basketball without LeBron James or any other superstar drawing the attention of opposing defenses, indicating that he's been doing more than just feeding off LeBron's pixie dust the past couple years (and remember, his solid rookie season came prior to LeBron returning to Cleveland).

One other positive of Delly's Rio experience: physical conditioning. Assuming he can avoid crushing too many PBRs over the next month, he should show up to camp in good shape and ready for his first season in Milwaukee, which often isn't a given for people paid millions of dollars to play basketball. Khris Middleton and John Henson admitted conditioning was an issue for the team last fall, and it's not uncommon for players to let themselves go a bit during their free agent summers (Charlie Bell being a prime example). That doesn't seem like a risk with Delly -- now let's hope the same holds true for the rest of the Bucks.

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Bucks check in at #3 in Jack Winter's rankings:

Antetokounmpo, of course, is the player who’s bound to snatch that status away from Middleton eventually and most believe already owns it. His role shift to full-time primary playmaker just before the All-Star break last season coincided with both stat-stuffing across the box score and a nightly highlight worthy of his unfair physical profile. The 21 year old is close to being a monster. But Antetokounmpo isn’t one quite yet, and won’t be until he makes defenders pay for going under screens and learns to dominate the action without dominating the ball. It will come.