I could open with a negative diatribe about how the Bucks are a disappointment, or brag about how my 1-2 expected record from last week proved true, or we could even go off-script and discuss what ails the Milwaukee Bucks and how to fix it. There's just so much to loathe!
But I've been infected with the holiday spirit, and instead have spent this past weekend feeling thankful for friends, family, and the mere existence of Bucks basketball. I won't use our time this morning to revisit the old tropes we've become accustomed to. Let's spend our moments together doing a bit of reading, a bit of listening, and a bit of warming our cold fan hearts.
The Bucks Are the Biggest Wild Card in the NBA (Sports Illustrated)
This type of article feels so appropriate for the 2017-2018 Bucks. They're a game out from the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference (as of this writing), but they're also a game away from being completely out of the playoff picture.
Another rash of injuries (please get better, Giannis. Please), a stretch of untimely losing, or a poorly executed trade could send the team in a tailspin and crashing into the lottery.
Equally, they could rip off a month or two of winning basketball or add a fate-changing player through improved health or a crafty transaction and find themselves contending deep into the playoffs.
Who doesn't love a little suspense?
Eric Bledsoe took a bit of time to find his role in Milwaukee, but he's quickly rounded into a reliable scoring threat and glue guy on both ends of the court regardless of which unit he's on the floor with.
Per 36 minutes, he's contributing 20.4 points (on 54.9% true shooting and a weaker 29.5% from three), 5.0 assists, and 4.5 rebounds and holds some pretty impressive on/off metrics as shown below. There are questions about whether those average shooting numbers will eventually become a drag on his productivity, but as of today his addition has seemed to be a wild success.
Of course, we're still only 21 games into the experiment and there's a lot of season left for a change in how his value is perceived, but he's been a revelation for the guard rotation thus far.
Tony Tony Tony (Bucks.com)
Tony Snell: All-time greatest Bucks sharpshooter? There are plenty of other players he'd have to contend with to take that mantle, but statistically he's on track to smash some franchise shooting records.
Snell is an odd player in just how much of a specialist he's proven to be since arriving from the Chicago Bulls. While in Chicago, he was the definition of an average guard/wing, unable to really create for himself or stand out in any regard. Now he's firmly planted himself either beyond the arc or cuts towards the rim to take advantage of the sheer gravity starters like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, and Khris Middleton impose on opposing defenses.
On a roster sorely lacking in reliable shooters, Tony Snell stands a shoulder above his peers. When he got a new contract from the Bucks before the season, some scoffed at the price tag for a guy with a 10.1% usage rate, but if Tony can keep producing at the level he's started the year off at, he'll be more than worth what the Bucks are paying him.
The Bucks generated plenty of headlines and buzz after they assigned Jabari Parker to a short stint with the Wisconsin Herd last week. He participated in full-court practice with the G-League unit before being recalled to the Bucks.
For now, his return date from a second torn ACL remains February, but at least he's far enough along in rehab to increase his workload. There's a chance he proves to be a windfall whenever he comes back, and I'm just going to continue to ignore the chaos of his upcoming restricted free agency.
From the Social Media Realm
More Jabari Parker updates!
Spoke to @JabariParker for a few minutes. Main takeaways:— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) December 18, 2017
-Not planning on playing in a G-League game for now
-Felt good to return to 5v5 to see where he is condition-wise (Not where it needs to be yet as expected)
-Not cautious at all with knee
-Still eyeing @Bucks return in Feb
Giannis the Arena Builder:
Hey, look! Sort-of-official Bucks alternates are starting to emerge:
New Bucks jerseys look incredible! pic.twitter.com/YDbRIe7XGJ— Ty Bauschek (@TyBauschek) December 21, 2017
Courtesy of our own Dean Maniatt, Giannis and Eric are TOTALLY NOT CRITICAL TO THE TEAM'S SUCCESS:
MIL vs CHA On/Off:— Dean Maniatt (@AllTheBucks) December 23, 2017
Antetokounmpo On (37 MIN)
Antetokounmpo Off (11 MIN)
Bledsoe On (36 MIN)
Bledsoe Off (12 MIN)
No, Sean Kilpatrick, YOU'RE realer than most:
I'd try to break down the audio from Jason Kidd's interview with Dan Patrick, but I'm assuming his answers boiled down to something about “energy and effort”:
And a merry Christmas to all from the Void!
On the eleventh day of Christmas the Bucks gave to me— Nihilist Bucks (@nihilist_bucks) December 24, 2017
Eleven Foolish Fouls
9 Rotation Changes
FIVE WASTED PICKS
4 “Shooting” Guards
3 Dense Owners
2 Blown Leads
And Knowledge the Void Sets Me Free
I've already taken up enough of your fine holiday mornings, so we'll be quick with the predictions this week: The Bucks start the week Tuesday hosting the Chicago Bulls, then host the Minnesota Timberwolves the only time during the season on Thursday, and then hit the road Friday to play the Oklahoma City Thunder.
I'd like to have the holiday spirit leave me optimistic about Milwaukee's chances this week, but I can't help but feel a 0-3 stretch ahead. Normally you'd like to write down Chicago as an auto-win, but we've been burned by that expectation in the recent past. The Timberwolves have been so-so, but the likes of Karl Anthony-Towns and Jimmy Butler may put up big numbers against a flawed defense like Milwaukee, and the Thunder have already blown the Bucks out this year. The Bucks will be giving us a lot of coal in our stockings this week.
But enough moping about. Go now, spend some time with friends and family, be merry, overeat, and get ready for the week ahead!