We’re a game in to the 2020-2021 (pre)season, so I figured it is time we break down things that we definitively know about this Bucks team:
1) Not a whole hell of a lot
2) DJ Wilson is likely going to earn himself a 3 year/$15 million deal next summer
That’s it, literally. The 112-102 loss to the Mavericks was instructive insofar as it told us the team doesn’t really know how to play with one another yet, and there’s no such thing as a set rotation. Nothing unexpected there since the players have had a week to work together, but if we needed any more evidence that this season’s gamble is rooted in a total shakeup of approach, we got plenty of it Saturday night.
There were promising signs: Jrue looked dangerous when on-ball or in transition, Khris dialed the aggression up from the jump and racked up easy points at the line, Giannis alley-oops, the rookies got some burn, and both DJs got the share the floor together. However, so much is still up in the air and you can tangibly see it on the court. Last year most of the returning roster knew its place within Budenholzer’s system and their internal pecking order. This time around we’ve got Bobby Portis spazzing all over the place and Pat Connaughton biting on pump fakes in an attempt to prove they deserve a consistent chunk of minutes (to be fair, Pat was doing that a year ago too).
The other thing that appears to have survived another offseason is the general outline of Mike Budenholzer’s schematic approach on both ends of the floor. Lots of five-out offense had Donte DiVincenzo and Jrue Holiday standing around waiting for something to happen while the zone drop and constant crashing on interior-driving players allowed a barrage of open Maverick threes. I hadn’t expected a complete overhaul, but I was hoping for... something a little different? After one preseason game I won’t be too rough on Bud, but this is an area we’ll be focusing on throughout the season.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying we’re all here to see what happens. Things won’t go the way they have in the past simply because they can’t, otherwise this franchise is back on life support in no time. The stakes aren’t soul-crushingly high yet, but they may ratchet up in a big way a week from now if a certain contract doesn’t get hammered out.
Just another distressing day in the life of a Bucks fan.
The whole situation around the extension remains perplexing, to say the least, but I’ve reached a state of utter indifference as to the timing or sequence of what Giannis is going to do. While I appreciate the long-term outlook players must have when it comes to determining whether a situation is a “winning” one for them, it only drives further home how irrelevant the 82 games the NBA plays are these days. If we are evaluating Milwaukee as a place to win, you cannot objectively say that they have not won here. They fell short in the playoffs for plenty of reasons (and Giannis has some blame to share in that), but we didn't live in realities where there was literally no path to a title. Hell, there’s still a path to a title for this team as currently constructed.
Yet we have to sit and wait and hope that Giannis believes he can win here all while rubbishing the marked leap forward this team made during his time here.
It’s frustrating to absorb, and a driving factor of my neutral regards for the team at the moment...
Giannis Antetokounmpo Has Plenty of Pens. But Will He Sign? (New York Times)
...a trend which shows up quite a bit in this Times piece about the situation and the agitation it is causing around these general parts. But any time Brew Hoop founding father Frank Madden gets quoted in the nation’s newspaper of record, we have to make sure that’s honored in the MMMR.
Jaylen Adams sees Bucks contract as opportunity for more growth in 2020-21 (Pickin’ Splinters)
While I know some were sad to see Frank Mason go, there is a lot about Jaylen Adams that is interesting in his own right. He was as critical a component to the success the Wisconsin Herd had a year ago as Mason, has speed, range to his shot, and heaps of experience as a lead creator for teams at a number of different competitive levels.
At age 24, there may not be a ton of further growth in his game left, but fresh off a stint with the Blazers in the Bubble, it might be a matter of mixing confidence with his skillset. For a third PG, that’s not a bad bet for the Bucks.
Shoutout to Khris for doing good things for Milwaukee schools. You’re a good guy, Khris.
Know Your Enemy
- Mavericks - Mavs Moneyball - 3 things as Dallas Mavericks steamroll Milwaukee Bucks, 112-102
The most annoying thing about playing the Mavs back to back isn’t so much that we have to watch James Johnson be annoying, but rather the fact that there won’t be much immediate adjustment (besides minute allocation) by Budenholzer. A bunch of mini-series await this year.
- Pelicans - The Bird Writes - Zion Williamson’s mind, body and soul echo a player ready to lead the New Orleans Pelicans
I’ll level with you guys: I still worry Zion is too big. How can he be that big and not disintegrate? Our only hope is the miracle of modern, uh, medicine keeping his joints from reeling after every dunk.
Fan Post of the Week
retired janitor’s “Cash Flow, EPS, Moats and Magic”
If I’m reading rj right, I think what he’s trying to tell me is to invest big in Thon Maker. What’s his “Moat”, you ask? Well...
The Social Media Section
The path to a guaranteed contract goes through DJ and DJ alone
Jrue and Giannis may, indeed, fight during practice
Preseason game one is the first indicator that it’s going to be a long season
“It’s Bobby Portis time.” - Bobby Portis pic.twitter.com/ggChGZhQmM— Adam McGee (@AdamMcGee11) December 13, 2020
Giannis led the NBA in usage last year and it looks like Bobby Portis is going to lead the league this year— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) December 13, 2020
Oppenheimer already paying dividends
Most notable Giannis observation: six-dribble FT routine with a slight cocking of the ball to the right before he goes into his shooting motion. Can only hope his 6/7 shooting in the first half is a hint at greater consistency than what we saw last year.— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) December 13, 2020
Checking in on the Bogdan experience in Atlanta
This will be fine and not circumvented at all
Yahoo Sources: NBA implementing new resting policy for 2020-21 season with teams prohibited from resting healthy players for any high-profile, nationally-televised game and violation could result in a fine of at least $100,000.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 7, 2020
Damn, guess I get why they chose to make blue jerseys now
not george hill liking this post pic.twitter.com/PYvg5myzbM— yasmin. (@carmelohdrama) December 10, 2020
The Glory is in the Grind
He literally has the Twins’ “TC” logo tattooed on his chest for his initials. Legend.
13 years in the league and he still looks like he’s 25. Legend.
The face of a man who stared into the abyss of basketball death (AKA Sacramento), and survived
May thy careers be fruitful
Riley’s 2020 Preseason Prediction Record: 1-0
retired janitor’s 2020 Preseason Prediction Record: 0-1
Savor that record, folks. It’s likely the only time I’ll be ahead.
This week the Bucks have two more games to close out their preseason. Tonight they’ll host the Mavs (again) before making their first Covid-conscious team trip to New Orleans to play the Pelicans on Friday night.
I’ll put them down for two more losses. Against the Mavs because the Mavs aren’t trying to gel 4/5ths of a roster into a working whole on the fly, and against the Pelicans because Budenholzer’s “load management” will kick in full-force allowing us the pleasure of watching DJ Wilson try to put the entire team on his back for 48 minutes.