You did it. Like a mammal in the depths of winter things were touch and go there for a bit, but you made it through a whole summer without basketball.
As a reward for your long struggle without the greatest sport in mankind’s history you get the return of the NBA, and so also of the Milwaukee Bucks.
These aren't the Bucks of old, either. That antiquated offensive system that emphasized tough twos over flowing threes? Gone. The insistence that team defense revolves exclusively around exhausting trap schemes? A thing of the past. A burning desire to see the head coach left on a frosty tarmac in the middle of a Minneapolis snowstorm? Quenched.
As an ode to what feels like a legitimately new era of basketball in Wisconsin, we'll spend this week's roundup talking unshackled Giannis, get an interview with Khris Middleton on the year to come, celebrate new arenas and new season ticket sales, and more!
Kevin O’Conner goes deep on just how radically different the Bucks have looked this preseason under coach Mike Budenholzer, and wow was I not aware of the disparity in offensive sets between Milwaukee and the Atlanta Hawks these past few years.
Take, for example, simple three-point attempt rate: since 2013-2014, the Bucks have ranked 23rd, 24th, 30th, 22nd, and 25th while the Hawks under Bud clocked in at 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 16th, and 6th. You'll find differences like that reflected in pace and pick & roll frequency as well. To see the disparity put into numbers is jarring, but a welcome reminder of just how much radical positive change awaits us around the corner.
Best Case, Worst Case: Milwaukee Bucks (The Ringer)
The one concern I have going into this season is keeping expectations in check. With Bud in place and Giannis at the helm this team should, theoretically, compete deep into the playoffs. Yet, we're but months removed from the Jason Kidd regime, and old habits tend to die hard. If it takes Budenholzer and his staff the better part of a year to graft on a new philosophy, will fans be content with a second-round exit in the playoffs?
Perhaps everything will click right off the bat. I mean, the Bucks have thrashed a number of opponents in preseason play which, while not perfectly predictive, would seem to point things in the right direction. Optimism aside, though, the first year under a new leader can be turbulent in its own ways, and that may be what decides Milwaukee's 2018-2019 fate.
Bucks’ Khris Middleton feels a new vibe in Milwaukee, sees ‘a whole new Giannis this year’ (CBS Sports)
I have to admit, I laughed at this one:
I also chuckled at how insistent Khris was when he discussed mid-range jumpers and how they'll still make up a part of his arsenal. What's heartening is hearing that he's going to actively work to get off the Tough Shot Express in favor of finding open teammates.
We've hit it time and again this off-season, but the stars seem to have aligned for Khris Middleton to finally share some of the shine that comes with big-time winning. Here's hoping he takes hold of the opportunity.
We don't need to go into this mark too deeply, but it is a testament to just how crazy a turnaround the Bucks have seen as a force in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
Where once you could reliably place the team behind UW Steven's Point Men's La Crosse in terms of state-wide popularity, you can now easily see a future where they're routinely in the mix bidding for attention with the successful Brewers and the *gasp* venerable Green Bay Packers.
We've come a long way from the 2,500 season tickets of 2015, folks.
From the Social Media Realm
John Henson's Hype-Man of the Hype-Man of the Year campaign continues unabated:
Also, John Henson may be the greatest player in NBA history?
2018 Preseason NBA PER:— RealGM (@RealGM) October 8, 2018
1. John Henson: 49.3
2. Klay Thompson: 45.8
3. Jordan Clarkson: 40.9
4. Kevin Durant: 38.1
5. Enes Kanter: 37.2https://t.co/iQdYbED9s4
An “inside look” at Khris Middleton's night against the Chicago Bulls:
Relevant Christian Wood contract info:
Perusing the @BBallInsiders Bucks' salary page and pleased to see Christian Wood actually has a 2-year deal -- if Bucks keep him this year they'd also have him partially guaranteed for $1.65m next year (with just 50% guaranteed right before start of 19/20 season). Nice.— Frank (@fmaddenNBA) October 11, 2018
Vent about ESPN not knowing that Madison isn't Milwaukee here:
The Madison Bucks are my favorite squadron. pic.twitter.com/jYQQFuQrKB— Sighduck (@StevevonHorn) October 11, 2018
I think this change for two-way player days of service was seriously much-needed:
NBA altered the "days of service" rule pertaining to players on two way contracts. Travel days will no longer count against the 45 day limit for two way contract players in their time with their respective NBA teams. Travel for G Leaguers going back and forth became problematic.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) October 12, 2018
Shoutout to Christian Wood modeling his game to be like Giannis since... 2015?
Riley's 2018-2019 Weekly Prediction Record: 0-0
Alright, basketball has returned, which means I have to get serious with my predictions. This week the year opens on the road Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets, and the team will return to Milwaukee to open the Forum against the Indiana Pacers Friday night.
First, how many years in a row have the Bucks opened the season on the road in Charlotte? Feels like the fifth year, I swear. I'm going to peg Milwaukee for a really hot start to the year with wins in their pair of opening games. Maybe I'm crazy, but it the Bucks should be able to go wire-to-wire this year with a record above .500.
Just two more days until tip-off, everyone. Hang tight, and...