The offseason is gone. The preseason is over. We’re finally on the brink of the regular season, and we couldn’t be more excited to see what the Milwaukee Bucks have in store for us. Join us for our final Roundtable before the games actually matter, where the we will make a personal prediction for everybody for the upcoming season.
(Box score stats in 2016-17 summary are per-36 minutes from basketball-reference.com.)
2016: 80 GP, 35.6 mpg, 23.2 pts/36, 8.9 reb/36, 5.5 ast/36, 1.9 blk/36, 1.7 stl/36
Greg: It would make sense to say that, statistically, there’s no way Giannis can replicate last year, but Giannis defies sense. I don’t think he’ll improve on all of his stats (looking at you, rebounds per game), but betting against the kid feels foolish. He’ll be an All-Star, he’ll be All-NBA, he’ll be All-Defense, and he’ll finish Top-5 in MVP voting.
Mitchell: In Giannis We Trust. He’s the second-best player in the East (sorry, not sorry, John Wall) and today would be in the Top-5 in the West. Milwaukee’s franchise is entirely enveloped in the light of his superstardom, and he’s still only 23.
Kyle: Top 3 in MVP voting, and assists will go up. It’s really hard to picture how Giannis can improve on last season but I’m sure he will find a way.
2016: 29 GP, 33.9 mpg, 17.3 pts/36, 43.3% 3Pt, 4.0 ast/36, 1.7 stl/36
Greg: Middleton appears to be fully healed and ready to rock. I am so excited to watch him for a full season. He’ll be a dark horse All-Star candidate that will get dragged into the spotlight by Giannis. His last full season saw him shoot 39.6% from deep, and I’m optimistic #22 will eclipse 40% again.
Mitchell: Khris, when healthy, is as steady as it gets in the league. Even when he was still finding his sea legs last season, he clearly stabilized the Bucks on both ends of the court. What’s better, he exhibited some willingness to pull up from deep in the preseason, which is one of the few opportunities in his game for significant improvement. I think he’ll increase his attempts while maintaining his percentages, which is nothing but helpful to the team.
Adam: Khris is as steady a second or third fiddle as they come. Year after year he ticks off the same boxes: elite 3-point shooter, competent pick-and-roll player, decent finisher at the rim. Every one of those would be a welcome addition to a player’s game, but Khris brings then all in a neatly wrapped, nondescript package. I expect much of the same this year, with potentially a slight uptick in 3-pointers. With the Hayward injury, he has a decent shot at an All-Star spot.
2016: 75 GP, 26.4 mpg, 13.9 pts/36, 40.4% 3Pt, 5.8 ast/36, 1.8 stl/36
Greg: I think Brogdon is a very good candidate for a sophomore slump. He’ll see more playing time which will lead to a statistical bump, but I think his impact will be less. It really wouldn’t surprise me if his turnovers per game shot up from 1.5 to around 2-ish.
Mitchell: I disagree here; I think Brogdon’s rookie season was his floor, and other than his 3PAr going up I don’t see very many changes in store for our favorite President. He’s a year wiser and can physically handle the NBA game; I am optimistic that Brogdon rises in the league’s point guard rankings to (at least) top-20.
Kyle: I think it will be more of the same for Brogdon, I do think he can increase his assist numbers with better passing and shooting from the team. I think the biggest thing is to hope his back trouble that he had last season doesn’t flare up again.
Adam: I’m dubious of much improvement from Brogdon outside of potential improvement finishing or drawing contact at the rim. I was impressed by some of his dastardly dime skills, but think he lacks the speed to consistently create the kind of passing lanes he can exploit. He’s a steady hand offensively and defensively at the point.
2016: 57 GP, 9.9 mpg, 14.5 pts/36, 37.8% 3Pt, 7.3 reb/36, 1.7 blk/36
Greg: I think Thon is a very good candidate for a sophomore bump. He’ll absolutely see more playing time which will lead to a statistical bump, but I think his impact will shine through in offensive spacing and in both offensive and defensive transition. The Eastern Conference should be prepared to [ahem] meet their Maker.
Mitchell: Thon is weird. He barely played last season, but everybody is gaga over what his Year 2 might look like. Even if he shoots just one three-pointer per quarter (which is a lot for a center) and maintains his level of defensive activity, Maker will turn more heads than he did last April. I don’t know if he’ll ever achieve “primary option” status, but there’s a lot to like about Thon’s upcoming campaign...and not a ton to dislike.
Kyle: Offensively, I don’t see a major improvement from Thon, which is perfectly fine. I think his total rebounding percentage will increase with a more bulked up body. I am one of those that will be going gaga to see what Year 2 will look like defensively. I think what we saw in the playoffs against Toronto is going to happen more often than not.
Adam: I doubt his rebounding will increase markedly, but his unique ability to stretch the floor and draw the big boys out will open up prime paint real estate for Giannis time and again. The additional bulk should serve him some on the defensive end though when contesting guys at the rim, but my main concern stems from his flailing fouls. Thon needs to decrease those in his second year, particularly if Milwaukee hopes to keep him on the floor for any sort of minutes befitting a third option.
2016: 81 GP, 22.5 mpg, 18.8 pts/36, 10.5 reb/36, 3.7 ast/36, 1.8 stl/36
Greg: Moose will be in the running for Sixth Man of the Year again, but he won’t win Sixth Man of the Year again. The winner will be some wing that just hits three-pointers at an above average clip while playing barely above average defense. It should be the big guy averaging a double-double that shouts, “AND ONE,” who also likes to mix it up.
Adam: The Bucks Brawler remains a remarkably consistent scorer whose improved defensive aptitude pivoted his storyline from chum in the water to keeping him on the hook. His minutes may dip a bit as Thon gets more run, but I’d expect much of the same consistency from Moose this year.
Mitchell: Moooooooooooose. Few pending free agents have such a wide range of prospective outcomes next summer. Will he take a huge pay cut? A sizable raise? And most importantly: will the Bucks look to find ways to keep him around? My gut says no (since they’ll need money to pay Jabari), but whoever Monroe plays with next season will be glad to have him (as long as his minutes per game doesn’t exceed 24.)
Kyle: I think Moose will just keep on keeping on. He’s going to bang around in the post, I think he will play less in the clutch as Thon gets more comfortable. I will say he averages 5 And-One per game and pick up a fine or two for sticking up to teammates.
Pick a Role Player!
(Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic, John Henson, Jason Terry)
Snell, 2016: 80 GP, 29.2 mpg, 10.5 pts/36, 40.6% 3Pt, 65.6% 3PAr
Dellavedova, 2016: 76 GP, 26.1 mpg, 10.5 pts/36, 36.7% 3Pt, 6.5 ast/36
Teletovic, 2016: 70 GP, 16.2 mpg, 14.3 pts/36, 34.1% 3Pt, 73.0% 3PAr
Henson, 2016: 58 GP, 19.4 mpg, 12.6 pts/36, 9.5 reb/36, 2.5 blk/36
Terry, 2016: 74 GP, 18.4 mpg, 8.1 pts/36, 42.7% 3Pt, 70.4% 3PAr
Greg: I’m picking Mirza because I think his lasik eye surgery is huge for his improvement. Following baseball, I have seen players get lasik and then find their grooves the following season. Mirza will flirt 40 percent from three-point range and ultimately set a career high in that category. Long live perfect vision.
Adam: I’ve been a little wary of Snell all offseason, not because I think getting paid might go to his head, but because his career shooting year last season might not hold up. Given his impressive attempt rate and general competency from deep, he’ll still draw defenders to the perimeter, but I’m not sure a plus-40% season is in the cards. I’m expecting a bit of regression back to his career 37.3% mark.
Mitchell: Nobody wants to pick Henson? Nobody? Fine; J-Hook will have multiple stretches of competent play, interspersed within week-long lengths of lethargic defense and empty offense. With a lower salary cap number, I wouldn’t mind him as the 3rd center. But I think the team would like to trade him (shocker!)...and will fail to do so before next summer.
Kyle: Let’s talk Delly; I believe he will have a minor bounce back season. I think the expectations are going to drop and that’s going to be better for him. I think him coming off the bench is a better role for him than a player that is supposed to be a key starter which he, sadly, will be paid like.
Pick a Young Guy!
(Rashad Vaughn, D.J. Wilson, Sterling Brown)
Vaughn, 2016: 41 GP, 11.2 mpg, 11.2 pts/36, 32.1% 3Pt, 51.9% 3PAr
Wilson, 2016 (NCAA): 38 GP, 30.4 mpg, 13.1 pts/36, 37.3% 3Pt, 36.0% 3PAr
Brown, 2016 (NCAA): 35 GP, 32.7 mpg, 14.8 pts/36, 44.9% 3Pt, 38.7% 3PAr
Greg: The Bucks made a very on brand selection with Wilson, but Wilson’s brand will lean closer to Vaughn’s than it does Maker’s. At the open practice during Fan Fest, coaches had to blow plays dead and chat with Wilson on defensive rotations and I don’t think his overall defensive is quite at the level it needs to be.
Adam: Brown’s 3-point jumper has looked clanky all preseason, but his physical makeup still fits precisely the bill Milwaukee’s looking for in a hybrid 2 or 3. A rough year shooting won’t mean much for him offensively, but the way to Kidd’s heart (and the court) is through defense, where Brown should slot in adequately enough to earn playing time over the other young’uns.
Mitchell: I’ll let Frank Madden sum up my current thoughts on Vaughn:
TFW better players are getting waived but you already have that guaranteed money locked up pic.twitter.com/WXbtmHN46x— FrankMadden (@fmaddenNBA) October 16, 2017
In all seriousness, Rashad needs to make the absolute most of his time this season, or his NBA days are numbered. I am more than willing to forgive his two seasons of relatively poor NBA performance due to his age (‘Shad just turned 21 a few months ago!), but I can’t abide three bad years, in a row, without significant improvement somewhere. I am not purchasing real estate in Rashad Vaughn Valley.
Kyle: I’ll echo what Mitchell is saying. I’ve said this past summer that Vaughn will make a small jump from terrible NBA player to a serviceable one when taking the court I’ll take the chance on Rashad Vaughn Valley and hope that it can be flipped instead of a flop........I’m so sorry.
2016: 51 GP, 33.9 mpg, 21.4 pts/36, 36.5% 3Pt, 6.5 reb/36, 3.0 ast/36
Greg: Parker will come back for a baker’s dozen of regular season games and then see bench time in the playoffs. He’ll flash enough positive game for everyone to be happy he’s back. He’ll also flash enough negative game for everyone to point fingers at his injury history.
Mitchell: Jabari is playing for his first big NBA contract, what with his contract extension hopes falling flat earlier this week. Between that incentive and his widely-reported progress from his second ACL injury, I think Parker will come back earlier than expected (mid-January perhaps?) and will largely be what we expect: a scoring savant with defensive deficiencies.
Kyle: I honestly don’t know what to expect from Jabari. He will be back on the court but its going to take a while to knock the rust off and who knows when that will be. I think Greg and Mitchell said it best; he will show enough to justify why he can be useful but also make a defensive error that baffles you.