I struck a positive tone at the end of last week's media roundup, and so the Bucks rewarded me by struggling towards competency against the Wizards, Suns, and Jazz. To add insult to (literal) injury, Giannis Antetokounmpo is dealing with troubling knee soreness (not troubling enough to keep him from playing 46 minutes in Utah!), Mirza Teletovic had a knee operation, John Henson only has one functional eye and I won’t be surprised when Matthew Dellavedova returns with 1.5 legs.
Unfortunately for me, when you mix the injury bug with mediocre basketball, the national media tends to stop paying attention to your neck of the NBA woods. That is to say, finding pieces of relevance for your consumption this weekend was more difficult than usual. I've thus chosen to spend the early section of this week's piece lamenting the deep hole the organization has seemingly dug themselves into.
I'm no coach, nor have I ever played organized basketball, but it feels like this team in its current iteration is nearing its personal Rubicon, for good or more probably for bad. The biggest red flags in my view have been the frustrations shown by players during play or in timeouts. Just take a look at a heated Giannis confronting assistant coach Sean Sweeney, and despair. That is not the look of a happy superstar. Then note the general feeling of apathy that permeates the floor; a feeling I can't say I wouldn't share if I felt my coaching staff to be wholly unsuited to the task of putting us in the right places night to night.
There's plenty of room for hopelessness. We're only ~20 games into the year and the season's disappointing result seems like a foregone conclusion. It was normal to hope that this would be the season where this team broke from the franchise's unexceptional norm. Instead, we're staring a .500 record and a first-round playoff exit right in the face.
The Bucks' Malcolm Brogdon needs a confidence boost while adjusting to his new role (Journal Sentinel)
And I need a stiff tall drink.
Trying to strike a balance with Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe is probably one of the greater ancillary challenges facing the coaching staff at the moment. Both are undeniable talents, but do you grant Bledsoe a bigger role simply due to his history and veteran status? Or do you try and continue to ride the hot hand that was Brogdon to start the season?
Here's to hoping the two don't begin to loathe each other until at least the All-Star Break!
Situations like this are why having a two-way player like Joel Bolomboy readily available is so valuable. He isn't a world-beater by any stretch (he's a two-way player, after all), but he's able to give the Bucks decent size when they need help papering over shortages in the frontcourt.
With John Henson dealing with eye issues and Mirza Teletovic on the road to rehab, the Bucks have a few more holes to plug on the roster. There should be enough talent there to make surviving absences doable, but they'll probably just play Giannis 53 minutes a night to cover up.
That's nice to hear, but Eric, my man, focus on shooting better than 20.6% from three. Please.
Kevin Garnett may be hard-pressed in trying to win an MVP award for Thon Maker single-handed, but at least he has a TV show where he can espouse his version of the Truth of Thon.
He'll probably never become MVP-caliber, but much of the hope of the future of this roster as currently constructed rests on Thon's shoulders. His spacing on offense is a boon, but almost every other aspect of the game seems to be a burden at this point in his career. With increased minutes he may begin to grow his skill set and comfort on the floor, but I'm thinking KG will be all alone atop Mt. Thon for the foreseeable future.
Milwaukee Talks: Wisconsin Herd GM Dave Dean (OnMilwaukee.com)
This interview is a little older, but when the Wisconsin Herd are having a better start to their season than the Bucks, I feel obliged to give them a bit of space on the roundup.
The intricacies of morphing a roster in the G-League is one of the finer points of interest for fans, and team GM Dave Dean goes into the nature of the league in that sense in this great get-to-know-you from OnMilwaukee.
From the Social Media Realm
There are two things I gleaned from the following video: 1) There's a chance you'll bump into Giannis Antetokounmpo if you fly Aegean Airlines, and 2) Macklemore is a recognized artist in Greece.
Bucks radio play-by-play aficionado Ted Davis gave us a look “behind the scenes” while torching a Twitter troll:
Posted my spotting chart last night. A Twitter troll replied "You know they have this thingy called a computer." Hey brainiac I am tactile and remember info better if I write it down. That is my thingy. pic.twitter.com/JecYqYhxjH— Ted Davis (@nbated) November 21, 2017
In case you hadn’t heard, James Young has been lighting it up with the Wisconsin Herd as of late:
Here are James Young's numbers from his last two games:— Jordan Treske (@JordanTreske) November 22, 2017
1 fan for life in me.
And, in case you missed it, our very own rachelhoops was able to attend a Herd home game (in Milwaukee) to witness the debut of Sterling Brown in the G-League. Here's her piece.
Another week, another set of games for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks will begin their work week on Tuesday in Sacramento to face the Kings before heading north to visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. They'll close the week by then hosting the Kings in Milwaukee on Saturday.
Normally, I'd confidently predict at minimum a 2-1 tally from those three contests, but the Bucks have shown a propensity to struggle with some of the worst teams in the NBA (cough, cough Dallas cough, cough) so I'm approaching things cautiously. I'll still lean towards 2-1 for the week, but don't be surprised when that loss is by 30 to the Kings in Milwaukee.
Such is Bucks basketball.
I hope our U.S.-based readers had themselves a nice Thanksgiving weekend, and hopefully you’ve got enough energy from a long weekend to propel you through the rest of a potentially-frustrating holiday season.