Welcome back to the Brew Hoop Round Table, where we ask that everybody use coasters and please don’t feed the pugs from the table, thanks. Today, we take stock of the Milwaukee Bucks’ successful (so far) 2018-19 campaign, and make our picks for season awards, real and otherwise, as well as revisit some of our official season predictions.
Most Valuable Player (Bucks, non-Giannis category)
Andrew G: Malcolm Brogdon, baby. Quietly averaging 15.7/4.6/3.5 while shooting 51.8% from the field and 42.6% from three. Oh, and he’s at 96.6 percent at the line. For reference, only 7 players in the history of the NBA have finished shooting 50-40-90. Without Brogdon’s consistency, it’s hard to picture the Milwaukee Bucks being this dangerous.
Kyle: Eric Bledsoe, because Marques Johnson said so. But in all seriousness, Bledsoe’s defense has been spectacular the majority of the season and he’s had some tough assignments from Kemba Walker to Damian Lillard to Stephen Curry and oh yeah, let’s not forget he pretty much ran the defensive scheme on James Harden.
Riley: Brook Lopez. Not only has the guy come in and single-handedly unlock the five-out offense that makes Giannis Antetokounmpo an apex predator, but he has proven up to the task of raising Milwaukee’s rebounding numbers (team-high of 77.3 DReb% when he’s on the floor). The team is at its best offensively when he’s playing and he isn’t a sieve on defense. That’s $3.4 million well spent.
Mitchell: I want to find a way to give this to Khris Middleton, slump and all, but I don’t think I can do it. I know everyone is up in arms over his presumptive max-level contract coming in the summer, and his per-game stats (17.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.2 steals) and shooting splits (0.435 FG% / 0.381 3PT% / 0.843 FT%) are not on the same level as last season. I do think that, by the time April rolls around, his performance will as well. Until then, my Bucks’ non-Giannis MVP has got to be Brook Lopez and his outstanding interior defense, box-out proficiency, and three-point bombery.
Most Valuable Player (NBA)
Kyle: It’s still Giannis, despite James Harden going lava hot on offense. Giannis does more for his team on both ends on the floor compared to Harden. Also, Giannis has been playing well the whole season, while Harden has been supernova only in the last month.
Riley: This is the height of sacrilege, but it may be James Harden. He’s the peak of modern offensive basketball in human form (34.8 ppg, .437/.379/.863, 12.8 3PA, .554 3PAr, 11.3 FTA, ~80% of his shots come within three feet of the basket or from three, etc.) and has kept a Rockets team that’s composed of two-way players, cardboard cut-outs, and buttery floors (how else to explain his many strides?) in a top-four seed in the Western Conference. That’s tough to brush aside.
Mitchell: Nah, it’s Giannis. He’s the best player on the best team in the league. He’s a top-flight scorer, rebounder, and defender, an excellent playmaker and passer, and the sport’s heir-apparent to LeBron James as “best player alive.”
Most Improved Player (Bucks)
Andrew G: Tony Snell for me. He’s 45.6 percent from the floor and 39.7 percent from deep this year. He’s averaging only 6.4 points per game, but he’s been much more efficient this season and has even been attacking the rim at a higher rate than ever before. Snell has also been more confident with the ball in his hands, something we did not see last season.
Kyle: I wanted to say Thon Maker because his floor has increased over the season. Sterling Brown was also a consideration for me as he’s been money from the corner. But I’m going with Bledsoe as he went from a question mark in terms of impact to being the second-most important player on defense and top three on offense.
Riley: D.J. Wilson and it isn’t even necessarily close. The argument in favor of Wilson is two-fold: 1) He was as good as a walking dead person in terms of asset value and expected on-court production 2) Unlike many of his contemporaries the jumps in sheer stastical output can’t be matched by any teammate. Guys like Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe are playing like themselves except moreso. D.J. has gone from garbage time because what else can you do to averaging 17.8 real minutes on a legit title contender.
Mitchell: D.J. Wilson is making a run at it, and certainly will have improved by the highest degree if this keeps up for the remainder of the season. However, at this point, Eric Bledsoe is my pick for MIB, even if he’s shooting 5% worse from deep than last season. His tenacity and explosiveness is as important to the Bucks’ perimeter defense as Brook Lopez is to the interior, and his decision-making (while imperfect) is significantly improved from last season.
Rookie of the Year (NBA)
Andrew: HalleLuka, HalleLuka!!!!
Kyle: Luka Doncic and if you’re thinking anyone else you’re just trying to troll people.
RIley: I think Kyle is right, Luka’s case is overwhelming at this point. Still, there are a lot of interesting rookies that will make this class worth following years to come. Some have already proven capable players (hi Jaren Jackson Jr.!) and other have yet to make an apperance (Zhaire Smith and Michael Porter Jr.).
Mitchell: DeAndre Ayton and Jaren Jackson Jr are interesting, but c’mon:
3 separate grown man buckets to give Mavs lead in final 90 seconds.— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 12, 2019
Coach of the Year (NBA)
Andrew: It’s Mike Budenholzer without question. Look at their overall/advanced stats and compare them to last year...it’s quite shocking.
Kyle: Budenholzer is the favorite in my opinion, taking a team that struggled to get 44 wins and has them on pace for a high 50/low 60 win total with many of the same pieces as last year. Mike Malone at Denver and Dave Joerger at Sacramento also deserve some consideration.
Riley: The sheer difference in net rating between the Bucks and Golden State in second place (3.4 per Basketball Reference) should be enough to get Mike Budenholzer the COTY nod. He’s created a formidable offensive juggernaut and league-leading defense. There’s a chance the team goes the entire year without losing two straight, an indicator of a coach who has his players’ mindsets in a dangerously competitive place.
Play of the Year (Bucks)
Andrew: He needs some milk!!!!
GIANNIS POSTERIZING JON LEUER pic.twitter.com/TGyiudP79V— The Sports Quotient (@SportsQuotient) January 2, 2019
Kyle: Seeing this in person >>>
Riley: It was this sequence that convinced me “new DJ” was here to stay:
What a fantastic defensive possession from DJ Wilson here pic.twitter.com/jKEqxEk2hB— Andrew (@AndrewG_NBA) December 23, 2018
Game of the Year (Bucks)
Andrew: The 104-99 win in Toronto against the Raps on December 9th was sweet. Brogdon hit some huge threes down the stretch, and the Bucks held Kyle Lowry scoreless!
#MILvTOR Final in Canada Bucks 104 Raptors 99. BIG ROAD WIn! Giannis 19 points 19 rebounds. Brogdon 18 points and 2 HUGE 3’s late. 17-8 2-0 vs Raptors. Home vs Cleveland tomorrow 7pm. IT’S IN THE BANK!— Ted Davis (@nbated) December 10, 2018
Kyle C: The beatdown against the Golden State Warriors on the road on national television. That showed this Bucks team CAN compete with anyone and they made a statement.
Riley: The 123-104 victory over the Chicago Bulls on November 16th. You have to celebrate any time you smack the Bulls and remind their fans that the entire organization is an unforgiveable sore prone to infecting the sanctity of the league.
Best Tweet of the Year (Brew Hoop category)
Andrew: There was a mini Brew Hoop reunion in Austin, Texas...the only thing missing was The Blogfather himself.
Me trying to find a better team in the East than the Bucks pic.twitter.com/hFw5URajec— Andrew (@AndrewG_NBA) December 22, 2018
Mitchell: Man, I’ve gained weight...
Kyle: Back when D.J. Wilson being good was a pipe dream.
They saw D.J. Wilson’s tape from last night and got scared https://t.co/JDqJD0zfMO— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) December 18, 2018
Flash forward one month:
D.J. Wilson is ready to serve Bucks Twitter’s dinner pic.twitter.com/UFjkT0jUC2— Kyle Carr (@KyleCoche) January 17, 2019
Riley: When Brew Hoopers unite the possibilities are limitless...
Best Tweet of the Year (non-BH category)
LMFAOOOOOOOOOOOO HELP THE BEAR pic.twitter.com/717NP8udCV— The Man Who Sold The World (@LordBalvin) January 7, 2019
Kyle: I’ve loved Rohan Katti’s bit all season and it’s my favorite running joke other than the mini fridge.
Riley: Ahhh, found it.
Paul Bunyan’s Axe Returns to Minnesota as Gophers beat Wisconsin 37-15 https://t.co/hcvBYC8gn2— The Daily Gopher (@TheDailyGopher) November 24, 2018
Kyle: I’d like to file a hostile work environment complaint.
Worst Tweet of the Year
Andrew: Anything Barstool Sports related.
Kyle: Thank you for not having a BH category or else I’d feel attacked. But honestly the one below was ratio’d so bad he deleted it. Although if I try this and I don’t have an NBA player in 20-30 years, I’m suing for false advertising.
Mitchell: Good riddance. For my pick, though, something a bit easier to laugh at...
Season forecast calls for another mediocre season from Bucks: https://t.co/4X00ZJCuup— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) October 16, 2018
Riley: This one continues to age like a soured wine by the day...
Add Greece to Turkey as places my guy @Enes_Kanter can’t go!— STEVE NOVAK (@stevenovak16) December 28, 2018
Bonus prediction! The Bucks will finish the season at...
Andrew: 60-22...NBA Champions.
Kyle: 57-25, first in the East, makes the Finals, lose in 7 to Golden State.
Riley: 55-27, second seed behind the Raps, eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Mitchell: 56-26, second in the East, but then...
- First Round: Bucks in 6
- East Semis: Bucks in 6
- East Finals: Bucks in 6
- NBA Finals: Bucks in 6