Take a deep breath. Hold it in and just be. Do you feel it? The NBA season is here.
Take it all in.
Anything I write from here on will pale in comparison to that giddiness I'm sure you're experiencing now. However, this site gives me page space every Monday to fill with words, so it is my responsibility to deliver. Let's take a look at how the Bucks fared in the media the week before the season starts, shall we?
Today we've got some notable pieces. We begin with an excellent piece on Jabari Parker and how he's gone about recovering from a devastating second ACL tear. From there we move to Giannis getting high praise from a fellow NBA star, then on to prognostication to when the Bucks will win their next title. All that and more awaits, so without further ado...
All Access with Jabari Parker (Sports Illustrated)
Yes, the odds appear stacked against Jabari Parker and his coming return from a second ACL tear in his left knee. But even as I acknowledge the cold reality of the situation, I can't help but root for him when a piece like what Sports Illustrated put together comes out.
Parker is known as a social advocate and a great role model for so many off the court. He's continued down that path even in recovery, and once again that makes him one of the easiest NBA players to root for out there.
Basketball’s Fresh Talent (TIME (yes, that TIME))
The improbability of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s path from poverty in Greece to superstardom in the NBA has been copiously documented. Now, not only is Giannis changing the dynamics of modern basketball, but he's getting acknowledgement by outlets like TIME as one of the leading lights of next generation's leaders.
While his star continues to rise, he's maintained his advocacy of those who walk a path in his native Greece similar to his own. As part of that, he's funding a scholarship for a Greek non-resident student and looking to sponsor the building of schools. In his words, “I’m going to help people have a better future.”
Kevin Durant Says Giannis Antetokounmpo Can Be Best NBA Player Ever (Bleacher Report)
Is there a pair of players with more mutual respect for one another than Kevin Durant and Giannis? When he first came into the league, Giannis was vocal in expressing his fandom of Durant's game, going so far as to declare him an inspiration for the type of player he aspired to be.
Durant has repaid the praise many times over, with his latest bout of admiration elevating Antetokounmpo's potential to something close to all-time greatness. Realistic? I tend to think so.
Now you just need to work on that jumper...
Meet Your 2021 NBA Champions, the Milwaukee Bucks (VICE Sports)
I thought VICE Sports had shut down months ago? Well, even if it is running on fumes, at least they're spending their final moments contemplating the important things in life; namely, when the Bucks will win their next NBA championship.
Success, in VICE's eyes, rests almost completely on Jabari's left knee and where he goes from here as a player. No one doubts his mental toughness to come back, everyone can't help but praise Suki Hobson and the physical therapy team the Bucks have brought together, and of course the consensus across the league is that if you come by a potential star player you hold onto him with both hands and don't let go.
The calculus between now and 2021 could change in so many ways, and predicting success even a season down the line is nigh impossible. But maybe Parker comes back as good as ever, and maybe that's all Milwaukee needs to reach the mountaintop.
This annual piece by ESPN's Zach Lowe is worth reading in its entirety, but if you're on the go and care first and foremost about Greg Monroe, then hit that Control+F to hear the case for Monroe's Sixth Man of the Year campaign.
Fresh off of a sixth-place run at the award last season, Monroe figures to be even more comfortable in his role coming off the bench, and surely will benefit from an offense that may play wider than previous years.
Add in the motivation of a contract season and what does Greg have to lose?
Clearly NBA.com's John Schuhmann wrote this piece before the Bucks attempted 33 three-pointers (while making 17!) on Friday against the Detroit Pistons. The offensive dynamic has changed completely!
If we're being realistic, it stands to reason that Milwaukee, a team which has been previously dependent on interior scoring, will continue to look inside for production.
Schuhmann makes a great case for why last season's offense could see a marked improvement this year, and he goes DEEP in analyzing the team and its statistical profile in all its facets. A worthwhile read to start your Monday with if there ever was one.
From the Social Media Realm
We're going to dedicate the section this week to the drama surrounding the 15th spot on the final roster.
First, the Bucks made final cuts after last Friday's game against the Pistons, apparently leaving Gerald Green as the preseason survivor:
The Bucks have requested waivers on Joel Anthony, Gary Payton II and Brandon Rush. The roster now stands at 15 players.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 14, 2017
Okay! While Green wasn't unbelievably impressive, he looked to be a guy with something to still contribute. Or so we thought, because just hours later:
Sources: Milwaukee has waived guard Gerald Green. The 10-year veteran reenters free agency before season starts this week.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 14, 2017
Okay? Well then who could the Bucks be thinking of bringing in? Or were they thinking of leaving an open roster spot for future transactions? Wait a minute, you can't be serious. A past-great Buck (all sarcasm intended) might be on his way back to Milwaukee?!?
Think of all the podcasting potential!
AND Xavier Munford (or, more accurately, his G-League returning rights) is being brought (potentially) to Oshkosh?
Wisconsin Herd acquire RR Xavier Munford & ‘18 2nd rd pick from Greensboro Swarm for ‘17 1st & ‘18 1st rd picks, per a source #GLeague— Chris Reichert (@Chris_Reichert) October 14, 2017
Who would ever have guessed there could be so much roster turnover in the space of a few weeks?
For those keeping track at home, you'll note that I didn't predict a single game result correctly in the preseason. But preseason is a time for humble observers like myself to refine their game, so I think I've got a better feel for the first week of regular season ball.
The Bucks begin the season Wednesday visiting the new-look Boston Celtics, then come back home to host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday and the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday. You've got to figure that if “continuity”, the team's latest buzzword pushed across all forms of media, counts for anything, it will matter most at the start of a season. I'll buy in, especially given the good vibes the starting unit gave off last Friday, and think the team will go 2-1 this week. If the team is going to start contending with the powers of the Eastern Conference, they better start now.
Now, one final time, take a deep breath and crack a smile. NBA basketball is back.