As I write this piece, your Milwaukee Bucks sit with a record of 23 wins, 22 losses, and occupy the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks aren't supposed to be here yet again. They have one of the best basketball talents the world over leading the charge. They have a supporting cast of good (though often not “great”) players to help that all-world player. They have a new arena on the way. They’re supposed to be on an upswing to the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference right as the menace of LeBron James contemplates moving to other climes.
All of that, and yet the Bucks only have the eighth seed. It'd make me sick if I hadn't already rapidly reached a state of apathy regarding the team the rest of the season.
The Bucks are on the verge of another lost season, and they should be ashamed of themselves for squandering what could have been.
Seemed as good a place as any to start this week.
The Bucks are in shambles; that's widely acknowledged, at least among fans. One could credit Jason Kidd for his noting that this is a team that will “win two games, then lose two games.” Such candor! Except, he's the head coach, and couching mediocre results in terms of the team's youth completely beyond his control is a slap in the face of everyone who invests time and emotion into this team.
It'll be interesting to see how the national narrative around Kidd plays out as the Milwaukee “two wins, two losses” Bucks go through the second half of the season.
You'll have to scroll down to the third point in Zach Lowe's column to find his musing on Milwaukee's defense, but he's really rehashing the schematic issues that have plagued this team for years now.
Confront the point of attack with overwhelming force? Fine, it may force the guard to pick up his dribble and break an opponent's set-piece before it gets underway. Maintain that level of aggression instead of backing off to cover both strong and weak sides of the court? Good luck watching an opposing wing bomb away from deep with little interference.
Hey, the Bucks got a C- from NBA.com's Steve Aschburner for their first-half of the season. Let's see what suggestions he has to get this team over the top:
“Milwaukee needs “The Greek Freak” of the season’s first month and a reinvigorated Middleton more.”
How could we have overlooked this cure-all? It's been in front of our noses for months!
As impressive as Giannis Antetokounmpo has been this year, I'm a bit skeptical that he'll have enough team success to back him up as a likely MVP winner. The hand-wringing from last year's decision to award the MVP to Russell Westbrook after his team won merely 47 games will probably inoculate voters against a candidate like Giannis.
The Bucks would only have to win 27 games the rest of the way to crack the 50-win mark. If they don't, and lord knows the odds are against them, you can kiss legitimate Giannis-for-MVP talk goodbye this season.
Walking the talk (ESPN)
Sterling Brown: Sharpshooter, defensive pest, and astounding trash talker.
The rookie out of SMU always seemed like an asset who could bring a lot to the Bucks in his first NBA season, but it was a question of whether he'd prove enough to Jason Kidd to warrant minutes. As the games wore on, he'd move from garbage time to becoming a regular feature in Milwaukee's bench unit.
He's not a perfect player, but what rookie is? He fouls a lot and can get exposed time to time when he's playing too aggressively on defense, but he has also shot 48.0% from three, routinely snags rebounds, and often creates opponent turnovers thanks to his intensity and energy levels on defense, fouls a lot and can turn the ball over from time to time when he plays too aggressively.
Rookie of the Year? No way. But it looks a lot like the Bucks have nailed another second-round draft pick with Sterling Brown.
The Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks’ minor-league team, is bringing NBA action to Oshkosh (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
When the Bucks decided to put their G-League team in Oshkosh, no one could be totally sure how the team would perform. Would residents embrace the team, even if it was minor-league basketball? Could the Bucks shuttle players back and forth enough to help market the Herd as the stepping stone for NBA talent? Could a brand-new team really compete against well-established opponents?
The answer to all of those have proven to be “Yes” across the board, and things couldn't be going better for the Herd. They've benefited from a strong start to the season (currently sitting atop the Central Division), have seen a number of two-way players in Oshkosh and then in the NBA, and might even get to see Jabari Parker feature in a game in the lead-up to his return to the Bucks. (unlikely, but who knows?)
So far, the Herd have been a great success. The next test will be if they can maintain their capacity to draw crowds year-over-year.
From the Social Media Realm
I'd be mad at this if it wasn't so deserved:
Embiid finished with 29 & 9 in a win over the Bucks.— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) January 21, 2018
Then won again... pic.twitter.com/usfw5PPJ5g
We did it gang! We made Giannis an All-Star starter!
Never mind, we're all doomed:
Is there a random guy beyond LeBron or your teammates you'd like to have on your team?— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 19, 2018
Steph Curry: "Giannis. He dunked on me last year. May have to get him on my team so that doesn't happen again" pic.twitter.com/RUXK8fRiY5
The more things change, the more they stay the same:
2012–13 Bucks, at 44 games:— Preston Schmitt (@pdschmitt1) January 18, 2018
• Big 3: Jennings, Ellis, Ilyasova (avg. age: 25.0)
• Avg. age: 26.8
• Record: 24–20 (coach: Jim Boylan)
• Big 3: Giannis, Bledsoe, Middleton (avg. age: 25.7)
• Avg. age: 26.1
• Record: 23–21
But they're young/focused on results. https://t.co/IqLyfTUJak
*cries into hands* Own the future...
Now that we got those tears out, let’s talk the upcoming week. Milwaukee begins by hosting the Phoenix Suns tonight, then have a few days off before the Brooklyn Nets come to town Friday, and then finish the three-game set Sunday in Chicago against the Bulls.
All my confidence in this team is drained, especially knowing Giannis won't be available against the Suns this evening. I wouldn't be shocked if the Bucks drop all three and find themselves in danger of being passed up by the horrific, awful, infuriating Chicago Bulls in a matter of weeks. #OwnTheFuture.
I'd be furious that the Bucks are on the outside looking in on the playoff picture given the apparent talent on the roster, but being on the fringes of the Eastern Conference feels like home, doesn't it?