Who needs instant gratification anyways?
The way the 2018-2019 Milwaukee Bucks season ended will always leave a sour taste in the mouth. It was supposed to be Milwaukee’s year — they blew every competitor not named the Phoenix Suns away, held home-court advantage for every round of the playoffs, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had officially arrived as the game’s premier talent. But, here we are months later with nothing except a let-down to show for it.
Thank goodness then that the 2019-2020 season is virtually upon us. A climb back to the top will surely be arduous, and fans will be in that weird limbo where everything and nothing matters until next April. Enjoy the ride because every step on the way to re-asserting your status as a contender is necessary, even if there’s 82+ steps in front of us.
How great becomes greater (NBA.com) & How does Giannis top an MVP season? (Yahoo)
Wanted to start here both because it was missed in the course of putting together last week’s MMMR and as a nod to the fact that an improvement in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s overall game by even a hair could be all the difference.
The key to reaching that next level may lie in assistant coach Ben Sullivan’s work. Sullivan, who is the main figure in this piece and who took over the role Sean Sweeney once held, is Mike Budenholzer’s attempt to have a Giannis-whisperer on staff.
According to Sullivan and everyone else under the Sun Giannis is the most coachable player to enter the league; nowadays the task isn’t so much to coach Giannis physically, but to move his mental framework in a different direction. That’s no easy task, but if any player will get there through sheer force of will, it’ll be Giannis.
Wild NBA predictions: Giannis’ big decision, trades to watch for (ESPN) & NBA.com 2019-20 GM Survey (NBA.com)
As is tradition, the start of the season brings in a wave of prediction pieces about what will shape team’s destinies for at least the next 365ish days. On the one hand there is Zach Lowe with his extensive list of miscellaneous trades, award winners, and prognostication about nearly everything NBA. On the other there’s the annual GM survey compiled by the folks at NBA.com asking questions as poignant as “who will win MVP?” to “which team is the most fun to watch?”.
Both articles have plenty of Bucks or Bucks-adjacent mentions; while Lowe gives a bit more character to his predictions there is value in getting a pulse on where GMs’ heads are at in an ever-changing competitive landscape.
Giannis Antetokounmpo or Nikola Jokić? (FiveThirtyEight)
This is a bit of a zany video and doesn’t necessarily shatter much in the way of debate. It’s value comes primarily as a launchpad upon which to begin discussions on who will be in the MVP mix this coming season.
Giannis as reigning (oops... former) MVP will garner buzz based on that sheen and continuation of his dominance. James Harden could be back in the mix thanks to the stream of outrage from his camp since earlier this summer. Anthony Davis is getting low-key buzz again with a helpful push from Team LeBron. And there’s Nikola Jokic, the jaw-dropping playmaker who coordinates defenders’ destruction from the high-post in Denver.
As of today it feels like Giannis’s to lose. Perhaps someone will do something so crazy statistically that it can generate a self-fulfilling narrative that denies Antetokounmpo back-to-back awards. That being said, if James Harden’s “I scored 35+ points 5,000 games in a row” story couldn’t get him the nod over the undeniable Giannis, what possibly could dethrone Antetokounmpo?
The Social Media Section
We’re breaking through in England, folks
Giannis is, at heart, all of us
Either he becomes the greatest adopted son in Milwaukee’s/Wisconsin’s history, or he breaks our hearts
The event today was so amazing, the love this city has shown me and my family is unbelievable! Thank you Milwaukee and all of my fans for the constant support! It’s time to get to work!— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) October 20, 2019
More Bucks players saying “let’s play ball”
...so this is the Fountain of Youth
MMMR 2019-2020 Prediction Record: 0-0
This was an exercise that didn’t go all that well last year thanks to my inability to game the system and guess the Bucks would win every single game. While that’d be the easy way out, I’ll continue guessing away uninformed and oblivious to anything but the most basic facts of each game as they come. So far, we’re batting a perfect 0.000!
Milwaukee has two games to start the year with the highly-anticipated opener in Houston on Thursday to face the Rockets followed by the home opener Saturday with a visit by the Miami Heat. With Eric Bledsoe’s health status an open question and the Rockets featuring something of a new look with Russell Westbrook in tow, I can’t help but feel a loss and a suffocating wave of “SEE! I told you Harden should’ve won MVP” takes a-comin’. The Bucks will take that initial stupidity and channel it into a throttling of the Heat for old time’s sake. 1-1 won’t be satisfactory, but it’ll be wholly fine.
Happy NBA season, everyone. We made it.