If you had to craft the perfect basketball player, you would probably envision a guy in the physical mold of a Giannis Antetokounmpo. Tall, long, strong, and speedy as all hell, an unrelenting mindset, and a desire to decimate all opponents that dare to stand in his way.
As we all know, the perfect player does not exist... yet. For the Bucks and coach Mike Budenholzer, every day is another opportunity to edge that much closer to helping Giannis bridge the gap from awe-inspiring to one without equal. That takes shape in ensuring that his voluminous talents are put in the right physical places while encouraging him to boldly go to the places once shunned.
In that vein we’ll start of this week’s articles talking about the terror Giannis is today and the constant work going into to ensuring that continues far into the future.
Sometimes all it takes is a single image to properly summarize just how Giannis’s mere existence can cause opposing offenses to implode. His level of body control and spatial awareness allow him to, in the words of Zach Lowe, be “in two places at once.” Denying cutting wings, hard-charging drives, and skying for blocks; that’s the Antetokounmpo way.
As we continue down the road towards increasing Giannis threes, I do occasionally return to musings about how hard of a road that transformation will be. Yes, you can burn possessions in the regular season when you’re routinely playing others off the court, but come playoff time each possession becomes critical.
What is the weighted trade-off of a possession that ends in a Giannis pull-up three? It may keep defenders slightly more honest, but is there a concern that a bad shooting showing would discourage Giannis from going even further? Is a good miss able to pry open a stopped up offense enough to get by? Lots of questions remain, though they’re good problems to have all things considered.
I continue to find all the little details like heated bench seats simultaneously cool and a sign of the excessive drive for small edges that populate the world of competitive sports. There’s an interesting backstory behind what brought these custom chairs to Milwaukee, but I found it most interesting that the Bucks supposedly “own” the design of the chair in the NBA. Others will have to ask nicely (or offer a conditional second-rounder or two) if they want their players to stay comfy and warm in-game.
This sit down, like the number of other sit downs Marques Johnson has had in the lead-up to his jersey retirement last weekend, is plenty of fun. Marques just knows his way around a Q&A, and you can always hear his voice shining through in each of his answers.
Congrats once again Marques. We’re all unbelievably happy you’re back in the fold.
Sterling Brown hoping to hit the ground running after layoff due to right wrist injury (Journal Sentinel)
With Sterling Brown back in the fold Milwaukee’s once Bible-esque injury report is that much shorter. The timing couldn’t be any better, especially with a need to figure out which wings are most in rhythm heading into the playoffs. Mike Budenholzer likes to run a shorter rotation of about eight to nine guys in the post-season (with two or three other guys logging spot minutes). If that pattern holds this year it will be an open question where the likes of Sterling Brown will fit in, but at least he’ll have a chance to crack the rotation.
The Ongoing Failure of the NBA’s ‘Supermax’ Era (Sports Illustrated)
This piece will become increasingly relevant to Milwaukee as the months tick by and we edge ever closer to Giannis’s E(xtension)-Day.
It goes without saying that Giannis will be worth every single penny and more that he’d earn over the life of a full supermax contract if he chose to pursue it. He gets a boatload of cash, the Bucks keep the league’s heir-apparent, and we’re that much closer to franchise-legend status.
But, it comes with the oft-discussed catch of trapping the Bucks into permanent salary cap hell. Both sides want to win, but the league is littered with displeased actors unhappy with the way the Designated Player Exception has been utilized. Will Milwaukee prove to be an unlikely exception to a plague that continues to sap other teams of life?
The Social Media Section
Kidd will be among the serious candidates for the Lakers coaching job if Luke Walton is dismissed, league sources tell ESPN. That’s expected to give Kidd some pause on pursuing the Cal opening now. https://t.co/mm1SHCcVNJ— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 24, 2019
More Pau Gasol content here! Get your Pau Gasol content!
“Can’t wait until you’re at my jersey retirement” -Tony Snell, probably
The LeBron seal of Twitter approval
Congrats @olskool888 on getting that jersey lifted to the rafters today! One of the 1st Point/Forwards in our game. Super dope game! Well deserved— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 24, 2019
This is the kind of in-depth analysis we brought Brian onboard for
Snell has to be careful after plays like this. NBA has been tightening down on players showing emotion and Snell gets away with one here. pic.twitter.com/xgvnDpJoDG— Bucks Film Room (@BucksFilmRoom) March 23, 2019
Dear @Giannis_An34 ,— Jimmy Crackcorn (@Jimmmycrackcorn) March 22, 2019
I watched the movie about you and it was a little sad, but cute mostly. And I want to bring you to my birthday party. I would be 7. I am counting on you. I want your team to win this year again.
Mas n@Bucks fan for life#FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/w68tHPFibR
Jon Horst continues to be a cap wizard
Milwaukee now goes $1.76M below the luxury tax after the $1.5M salary of Christian Wood was claimed by New Orleans.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 20, 2019
Riley’s 2018-2019 Weekly Prediction Record: 46-28
Perfectly predicted weeks don’t happen a lot around here, so I’ll take just this quick moment to bask in my own shine. Good job, me.
With the Toronto Raptors getting KO’d by a Jeremy Lamb half-court heave Milwaukee’s magic number for the #1 seed sits at four. The Bucks will need a little help from others if they want to have things secured by the end of this week with a group of challenging games ahead.
It’s a top-flight showdown with the Houston Rockets in town Tuesday in what will inevitably be billed as the game that decides who is league MVP. Then the LA Clippers visit Thursday and the Bucks head south to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Sunday.
2-1 feels right with a loss to the rolling Rockets on the docket. That result shouldn’t sour Giannis’s MVP campaign as I expect him to take it as a personal challenge to notch another 50-point game when the lights are brightest. After all, scoring a lot appears to be the criteria some voters will use in choosing the winner, so what better way to prove a point than to violently dunk the ball trip after trip after trip down the court?