Well, that wasn't exactly the start to the preseason we were hoping for, was it? The Milwaukee Bucks, ever out to prove me incorrect, struggled in all three of their games last week on their way to a dispiriting 0-3 preseason record. As wonderful as “continuity" is as an adjective, it doesn't appear to be leading to promises of success on the court so far.
There have been bright spots, surely, including the emphatic return of Giannis Antetokounmpo (to the tune of 24 points in 23 minutes), a first-look for the rookies at the speed of the NBA game, and a brief appearance of Playoff John Henson. However, outside of that the starters have played without a notable fire, this year's defensive scheme may prove to be the worst iteration yet during coach Jason Kidd's tenure, and, 15th roster spot drama notwithstanding, the bench unit hasn't exactly been inspiring.
The team has the upcoming week to go back to practice, iron out some difficulties and hopefully end the preseason on a high note this Friday when they host the Detroit Pistons. A good outing would go a long way to easing fans’ immediate fears, but all the old weaknesses we've become accustomed to look like they'll be a feature of another season of Bucks basketball. Dismaying, to say the least.
Beyond the gloom and doom there are still stories worth looking at, and that's what we're here for this morning. This week the internet gave us a NBA GM survey, the Official League Pass Watchability Ratings, a guy named Xavier Munford, and a bit more.
Bucks use Fan Fest as opportunity to improve (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
One of the downsides of living in beautiful Minneapolis, Minnesota is how seldom I get to see the Bucks live. As part of that, I also never get the chance to take in the sights and sounds of Fan Fest, though I suppose making a trip to watch the team run a public practice isn't wholly necessary.
Either way, the team got a chance to interact with fans, show off a bit of what they do behind the scenes during training, and put on a scrimmage with little to nothing at stake for those involved. Not too bad for a Sunday's work!
Bucks’ Antetokounmpo a favorite among NBA GMs (FOX Sports)
This one shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, especially with Giannis taking the top spot for international players in the NBA a second year in a row.
However, I for one am upset and thrown by the decision of 29% of GMs to vote Karl Anthony-Towns as the player they'd like to start building their franchise with. Sure, KAT is an otherworldly talent in his own right, but does he have any of that sweet sweet playoff experience?!? I think not.
Just goes to show I could seamlessly step into a GM's shoes and easily win championships. The Bucks have my number/Twitter handle.
Zach Lowe has put together his must-read League Pass rankings, and hey look, the Bucks made #9 in the league! Not bad given the amount of intrigue and storylines that permeate the NBA as the season gets going.
Lowe's rationale primarily revolves around Giannis, but guys like Thon Maker and Jabari Parker also offer sights to watch out for. Add in a hectic style of defense (which may not, in fact, work) and a solid on-court look and you end up with a pretty watchable team.
Bucks sign Team USA darling Xavier Munford (Clutch Points)
James Young was not long for Milwaukee, and waiving him last week opened up another temporary roster slot for the Bucks to fill. They went ahead and did just that by bringing in former-Memphis Grizzly/LA Clipper guard Xavier Munford.
Munford, who played two collegiate seasons at the University of Rhode Island, has struggled to find a sticking place in the NBA at age 25. He's been an okay talent during three seasons in the G-League, but the shooting stats aren't the prettiest, nor are the assist numbers mind-blowing. Maybe he'll stick, but more likely than not Munford won't make the team. In a best-case scenario he ends up with the Herd (two-way or otherwise) so we can watch some highlights like below, and hey, the guys at 2 Ways and 10 Days are high on him!
Bucks waive guard Kendall Marshall (FOX Sports)
So long, Kendall. You're by far the most popular point guard the Bucks have had in the 21st Century, and it is a shame we have to bid you another fond farewell.
Wait, hold on a second, did you just say you have a depth of experience in the G-League? We've got a new team you could be the offensive-organizing star of if you’ve got interest!
Bronson Koenig moves on after being waived by Bucks (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
The sagas of Bronson Koenig and Jalen Moore, Milwaukee's very first two-way contract players, were oddities in their own way. Brought on-board right after Summer League, both seemed set to be faces of the Wisconsin Herd in its first season. Instead, each were waived within weeks of one another, with Koenig eventually finding a place with the Chicago Bulls in training camp.
Odds are Koenig won't be making the final roster in Chicago either, though signs point to him sticking with the Windy City Bulls for the season. The Bulls already have both of their two-way contracts filled, so Koenig will have to grind away with a smaller salary in the G-League for the chance to impress and get called up to the senior team at some point this season.
Bucks Arena On Budget, On Schedule (Urban Milwaukee)
Always good words to hear, especially when it comes to something as important as the new home of the Milwaukee Bucks.
It looks like the building should be weather-tight by the end of November, and then work on the (currently) bare interior can really kick into overdrive during the winter. The arena already looks pretty good this far into construction; it will look almost completely different by the time the snow melts next spring. Exciting!
From the Social Media Realm
Michael Beasley, former-Buck great, has been in the news lately for his ankle watches. Let's check in on how things are going on the court:
Oh my goodness John Wall just punk’d the hell outta Michael Beasley pic.twitter.com/w7pTOjGlEy— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) October 6, 2017
This is it. THIS is the season where Giannis finally adds a reliable jumpshot to his arsenal and ascends into the conversation of who is the Greatest of All Time™:
Something tells me Gerald Green is ruthless when it comes to playing NBA 2K18. Especially when he's facing mere children:
Either John Henson is going to retire to fulfill his lifelong ambition to become a professional deep sea fisher, or he's post nondescript pieces of wisdom:
There always comes a time when you have to figure out what matters most..— John Henson (@Johnhenson31) October 6, 2017
Really makes you think...
Well, since I got badly burned last week predicting the Bucks would go a perfect 3-0 to start the offseason, you can't blame me for coming in pessimistic this morning. Detroit (as of publishing) own a 1-1 record with competitive showings in both games. However, it is still preseason, and this Friday's game will be the final showing before games start counting for both teams. I'll lean negative, regardless of circumstances, and eagerly look forward to a final poor showing from Milwaukee to finish the preseason 0-4.
Who knows, maybe the team will figure things out when the regular season gets underway, but everything has been completely underwhelming so far. Giannis counts for a lot and is set for a MVP-type season, but that will make it all the more frustrating if the team joins the ranks of those carried by a singular transcendent talent surrounded by muddling support.
Anyways, all my positivity aside, at least basketball is back, and basketball that really matters is just around the corner. If you take nothing else from this morning's piece, I hope it is that uplifting fact that keeps a smile on your face. Now, go out and own the day (or The Future, or Continuity, if you like). And as always: