When it comes to the NBA offseason, it is tough for things to be as “exciting” as they were this past week for the Milwaukee Bucks. They announced a new head coach for the Wisconsin Herd, brought former Timberwolves executive Milt Newton to the front office, revealed a logo partnership with Harley Davidson, and were happy to tell that they'd open the season at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on ESPN.
What more could we realistically want? The answer to that question is obvious:
More Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The approach of Eurobasket competition means that Milwaukee's favorite Greek son is in the news again, and we'll get a status update on everything Giannis. We'll also feature a dollop of Rashad Vaughn and some rumor mill activity.
Bucks video: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s chase-down block in Greece’s exhibition versus Montenegro (ClutchPoints.com)
When you're in the throes of unquenchable craving, you'll take every drop of whatever it is that you desire so strongly. For many of those who frequent this site, Giannis Antetokounmpo highlights are what keep us going day after day; when the offseason hits, that source of life-sustaining essence dries up.
Until, that is, Eurobasket approaches and we once again get to see him star in friendly competition for the Greek national team. Turn up the video of his impressive rejection, put it on repeat, and be thankful.
With a Giannis high comes a corresponding Giannis low, this time due to some knee pain that's continued to trouble him throughout the summer. According to the Greek national team, Giannis isn't participating due to a prior commitment in China, but concerns about his health can't be overstated.
Whether he recovers and feels well enough to play remains unknown, but it can be a bit nerve-wracking reading stories of injury trouble during the offseason, even if small-scale.
Will Giannis Antetokounmpo Be Most Improved Again? (BballBreakdown.com)
And finally, after a low we must end again on a Giannis high: This time considering the possibility of his winning Most Improved Player for a second year in a row.
The sheer concept sounds crazy, but given the circumstances it may not be completely beyond imagination. Consider this: At 22 years of age and with such physical tools at his disposal, what will stop Antetokounmpo from putting up ever gaudier numbers year after year? (Yes, with the gigantic caveat being that his jumper is a limiting factor)
It would be difficult to top the leap he made between the previous two seasons, but he's blown past every expectation set before him so far. Why not do it again?
We’ve all been eagerly awaiting an update as to what Rashad Vaughn has been doing to improve himself as he heads into his third NBA season. Apparently his big change has been participating in crossfit and reducing his sugar intake.
Don't be shocked when Vaughn wins MIP over Giannis this upcoming season thanks to his unbounded cardio and calm sugar-free demeanor.
The saga of Jabari Parker's second return from an ACL injury continues on with Bucks GM Jon Horst stating that the team isn't overly focused on what he may provide the team come early 2017 and his projected return time from rehab.
Instead the team's approach with Parker will be much like the plan with Khris Middleton: Keep him in rehab, monitor his progress and bring him back when everything points to him being ready. Will it pay off? Only time will tell.
First-Time All-Stars: Feat. Khris Middleton (Sports Illustrated)
Before suffering a freak hamstring tear prior to the 2016-2017 NBA season, Khris Middleton was a man associated with high expectations. His varied offensive skillset, reliability as a go-to option in critical possessions, ability to defend opposing guards at a competent level, and most importantly his role as a floor-stretcher meant the team would realistically go as far as he did.
Much of this next season's success shall revolve once more around those above qualities. If Middleton returns at all to form then he solves many of the problems staring Milwaukee in the face on both ends of the floor. Will he do enough to earn an All-Star bid in 2018? That may be too lofty of a goal, but given the flashes we've seen from him previously, it shouldn't be ruled out wholesale.
Malcolm Brogdon has, obviously, been a wonderful surprise. Not many would have pegged him as a potential nominee for Rookie of the Year, much less the outright winner of the award. And yet, when you dive into the stats and begin to really understand his contribution (or the team's tendency to do better when he's on the floor), it begins to all make sense.
How much you buy into analytics is a matter of personal preference, but I highly encourage you to read the above piece if only to glean some more ammo with which to fight Joel Embiid-stans wherever they are found and confronted.
I've once again had difficulty coming up with anything worth laying a prediction down on; such are the woes of the offseason. But I do have good news: I purchased my first piece of “New Era” gear at the Wisconsin State Fair last week and I'm in absolute love with it. Something about the secondary logo featuring the outline of Wisconsin with “BUCKS” running from northwest to southeast just gets me.
That being said, if you want Harley-free merchandise, I'd rush to make your purchase soon. The team may say that fan gear will remain unaffected, but just you wait and see how that turns out. Move now and avoid any future regrets.
And with all that, I must now bid you all a fond farewell as I make my way 15 feet from where I sit to relax on the Atlantic coast. I can only hope that whatever you're up to this week will be as stress-free, and of course I wish you all a...