Milwaukee – With a resounding and total win over the stifled-in-three-quarters Miami Heat, the Milwaukee Bucks are treading into unknown territory for all but the eldest and most loyal Bucks fans. Though the team’s supporting cast might not look the part, this squad has what it takes to win it all.
Of course, we’re talking about Giannis.
It's good to be #Bucks owner Marc Lasry, who has a lot of fun talking basketball while jetting to games and seeing Giannis Antetokounmpo become a superstar, writes @TheFrankIsola. https://t.co/4tQNnvee7W #NBA #NBAExtra #NBATwitter— The Athletic (@TheAthleticWISC) January 15, 2019
Everybody’s talking about Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s astounding. Spectacular. Awe inspiring. He gets my partner to watch entire games of basketball. In short, he’s the best thing to happen to the game in a long damn time, and every night is a treat as he creates magic on the court.
kids, it's time to open ourselves to the possibility that the Milwaukee Bucks are going to win the NBA championship— Owen Ellickson (@onlxn) January 10, 2019
This season seemed predestined from the start, but now we can truly start to embrace the experience for what it is. Believing a trade will make this team better is part of all fandom, but what do we want when it’s all clicking into place? Why worry about the feelings of the back of the bench when we’ve never experienced chemistry like this? For many fans like me, the 80s are a legend, but we’re past that.
This team is equipped to put banners in the rafters for years to come.
Though the accolades can be jarring, they are not undeserved. Mike Budenholzer’s system is humming. Unlike his vein-popping brethren to the South, Coach Bud lives up to the hype that perpetually surrounds offshoots from Pop’s Orchard.
they're outscoring opponents by 9.5 points a game. only 11 NBA teams, EVER, have done that:— Owen Ellickson (@onlxn) January 10, 2019
- '71 & '72 Bucks (peak Kareem)
- '72 Lakers (Wilt & West)
- '92, '96 & '97 Bulls (MJ)
- '08 Celtics (KG etc)
- '16 Spurs (40-1 at home)
- '15, '16 & '17 Warriors (ugh)
Though some at the back of the bench have poked harmless fun on social media at their lack of love, a quick glance to the East and West shows just how dominant and special a position the Bucks hold. Philly smolders from within as Kyrie Irving has another in a long career of Me moments. Out west, if you aren’t Golden State, you’re scared out of your mind (51 points in a first quarter is unholy, get me a cross made of garlic). This trade deadline somebody’s going to blink and...
Somebody’s going to blink and I really hope it isn’t the Bucks. Khris Middleton looks shaky and not worth a max deal at times, but I have a strange loyalty to him for the years he’s put in. There’s not much room for sentimentality usually, but this team feels different. He’s the piece the Bucks need most, when he’s on, he’s fire, and when he isn’t, he’s as solid a glue vet as they come.
Eric Bledsoe has given everything in a contract year to the team to make it as dominant as it has been. As the mastermind behind the James Harden strategy, I can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve come the playoffs.
Malcolm Brogdon is Shane Battier if he did things worth keeping a man on the court. He does everything, sees everything, learns everything. He’s steady as the sea on a windless night and if you sleep on him he can be as brutal as a sudden gale. The 50-40-90 is incredible, but there’s something about his style that makes it seem effortless.
Brook Lopez is the gentle giant we’ve been waiting for all our lives. A generation of Bucks centers hinted at an outside shot, put up a bevy of godawful midrangers, and settled into a pattern of pick and rolls and postups. Lopez breaks the mold so hard we’re getting high off the dust. He’s taken 282 threes out of 407 total attempts, good enough for 69% of his shots. I called John Henson “Tall Curry.” Splash Mountain needs no comp, because there are almost no centers in history like him.
Apologies to Jason Smith.
I could go down the line and tell you what each play brings to the team and why I love them, from D.J. Wilson’s focus and effort on putbacks to Sterling Brown’s growing rapport with the whole team. These guys seem to like each other, and when the job is a joy everything gets easier, and growth is second nature.
The Bucks could do something to try to nab a co-star for Giannis, but even the most dazzling fade in his light. As long as the times are good, the wins are rolling in, and everything is happy in Giannisland, there’s not much reason to rock the boat.
This is the best time I can remember as a Bucks fan. Jon Horst has a challenging few months ahead, but this team is good enough that the choice going into the trade deadline seems simple enough.