A symbol of renewal. A hopeful signal of better times to come. A new home for a team stuck in an icebox for nearly three decades.
Sure, the Fiserv Forum is at its most basic a building where a sport will be played. Look beyond its sleek exterior and impressive sight lines, though, and you'll glimpse something more meaningful: An anchor for the future.
It is the culmination of an effort whose success was far from guaranteed at the outset. Previous ownership had ensured years of on-court stagnation and consequent deterioration of excitement about the team. When Herb Kohl sold the Bucks to Marc Lasry and Wes Edens there was the first glimmer of hope about a sustained future in Milwaukee.
With a corps of new-age marketers in tow, LED (as the triumvirate of owners have come to be known) embarked on a campaign to get funding to raise a new residence for the franchise. There were a series of fraught moments, and a debate about public funding of sports facilities that hasn't (and shouldn't) gone away, but eventually things came up Bucks.
Now, with new digs, a superstar without compare, and a little luck, maybe the opening of the “Four-One-Forum” will herald the opening of something greater: Immortal athletic achievement.
Why the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena is the NBA’s most impressive (Yahoo) & The Grand Opening of Fiserv Forum (Bucks.com)
With any brand-new structure built primarily for entertainment there will be the inevitable features like “X-Rays that transport hot dogs directly into your stomach!” And Fiserv Forum is little different.
You have to admire the dedication to making Bucks games more than just a three hour one-off event for viewers. Ownership has a bit of money tied up in the success of the area surrounding the Forum, and it is those stakes that offer an avenue to making the ‘Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center’ a full-service entity with a usage period far beyond the usual 7 PM to 9 PM Bucks games inhabit.
I'm only a little jealous of those of you who live nearby.
Four Narratives From the NBA’s MVP Odds (The Ringer)
I'll always cop to not having a single clue what symbols mean what in the world of gambling, but according to Bovada, Giannis Antetokounmpo has +450 odds of becoming the 2019 MVP. That's third best in the league behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and slots our hometown hero ahead of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry.
Since I don't know if that's a value wager all I'll say is that there's a strong case to be made for Giannis reaching total basketball ascendancy:
- Barring a miracle run for a top seed in the West, this feels like a “rest year” for LeBron James.
- The New Orleans Pelicans have even more unknowns than Milwaukee, and Anthony Davis perennially exists on the “WOW he's good but the Pelicans are also the sixth seed so meh” spectrum.
- Everyone else who could be in obvious contention already has an award or has potential to have any campaign fizzle out
If not now, when?
Brook Lopez will help defensive rebounding (Hoops Habit)
The more I read analysis about Brook Lopez the more excited I get to see what kind of play he unlocks for Milwaukee. Take his impact on rebounding: His individual metrics aren't flashy and you need to extrapolate his presence to team-wide numbers before you can see a difference. What a difference, though.
According to Max Carlin, Brook’s on/off defensive rebounding differentials have ranked in the “98th, 91st, and 76th” percentiles league-wide (even while his personal rebounding percentage is incongruous with a seven-footer).
That should mean rebounds will fall into the hands of the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, and Khris Middleton; a trio of ball-handlers who'll see green lights for initiating instant transition offense. Don't be surprised if a few of those fast-breaks don't end in the hands of a trailing 33-34% three-point shooter by the name of Lopez, either.
Brandon Jennings signs with Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg (Yahoo) & Wisconsin Herd Acquires Travis Trice In Three-Team Deal (Bucks.com)
Few things scream “August in the NBA” than marginal comings and goings like the two above, but they're each instructive in their own way:
- That the Bucks had to rely on any Brandon Jennings minutes last season is a testament to how far they were up against a wall at guard. Jennings spent the opening phase of the 2017-2018 season abroad in China and only latched onto a team whose GM he had a previous relationship with and that was looking down the barrel of regular Xavier Munford backup minutes. Barring overlapping injury stints, such a stunt should be avoided in 2018-19.
- Trice’s is a story of guys at the periphery of the league finding alternative routes up to the big squad. Travis has spent time overseas during the NBA season but remained a constant presence with Milwaukee in Summer League for several seasons now. Both sides presumably have a level of understanding that makes a move to the relatively low-paying G-League logical if Trice sees the end-game as possibly ending up with the Bucks by hook or by crook.
Between the two stand the Wisconsin Herd as a common denominator. The Oshkosh-based minor league team served as an effective clearinghouse in its opening season for Summer League players, two-way contract holders, and end-of-the-bench-in-the-NBA guys (think DJ Wilson). If Trice successfully climbs his way onto the NBA roster in the next year, I think we can officially christen the Herd as a fully-fledged feeder partner in a pinch.
From the Social Media Realm
Just go look at some of more gosh-dang pretty pictures from the open house. (via Twitter)
TEAM PRACTICE FILM (but keep Giannis’s name outcha mouth, @leozhao44:
August 21, 2018
My skepticism about Jabari's earlier Player’s Tribune pieces has increased about 100,000%:
"I’m back home, Chicago. But I never really left. I’m just excited to be with y’all again. There’s so much I want to give to the city that’s given me so much."@JabariParker's love letter to Chicago. (In partnership with @AmericanExpress)https://t.co/zR4idpgRKG— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 23, 2018
Two things: 1) Who the hell else was even in the running for this award? 2) Does being a Billionaire (with a B!) mean you automatically win?
Our final #WSA of the night is the Fiduciary Management Gamechanger award, and it goes to @Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, and Jamie Dinan. pic.twitter.com/zVMJvrMvnG— WISportsAwards (@WISportsAwards) August 23, 2018
Pat Connaughton is going to be this year's sure-fire “Buck who tweets incoherent things” follow:
Chillin with my guy @briankoppelman (producer of @SHO_Billions ).. Hey @KellyAuCoin77 I got my winner in the big foul shooting contest ♂️ pic.twitter.com/zm5VLLcrCZ— Pat Connaughton (@PlanetPat5) August 21, 2018
Finally, the millionth Giannis mixtape we've all been waiting for:
With renewal so thick in the air, I'd like to take this final section and ask if there are any suggestions you guys may have that can make the MMR that much better.
Inclusion of important, but not directly Bucks-centric articles?
A running tally of how my weekly win/loss guesstimates fare through a season?
Hot take of week? Everyone's doing them!
The inclusion of a “social media” segment was one reader's idea from last year, and your big idea could be next!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off for my lunch date with the head writer for the acclaimed series “Ancient (Greek basketball playing) Aliens”.