They didn’t call John Hammond Trader John for nothing: The guy loved himself a deal at the death, ill-advised or otherwise.
It’s no wonder then that his protege Jon Horst has stepped up in Hammond’s place and proudly retained the title of Trader Jon. Last season saw him make ancillary moves such as acquiring Jodie Meeks for a slightly better Wizards second-round pick selection, moving Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson on for George Hill/Jason Smith, and put a lot of pieces together to swap Thon Maker for Nikola Mirotic.
Things have been quieter this time around thanks in part to the reduced number of draft pieces and compelling contracts Milwaukee has available. The Malcolm Brogdon sign-and-trade netted a first-rounder and it’s that pick that likely plays a key role in whether a deal gets done before this Friday’s trade deadline.
As the days go by and the hours tick down remember that they don’t call him ‘Trader’ for nothing.
Scouting the Bucks’ prospects and if they can help a title push (ESPN+ - Subscription Required)
Apologies for the paywall, but it isn’t every day you get a deeper dive on Milwaukee’s remaining youth and their usability in the upcoming playoff run. No surprise, Donte is the highlight here, but Sterling Brown and Dragan Bender get their own nods.
Uh... sorry DJ.
Khris Middleton has been worth every penny for the Bucks (SB Nation)
Even after his 51 point outing the above is all I really found about Khris Middleton in “national” discussions. He had the misfortune of going off the same week All-Star reserves were announced and everyone chose to discuss who got snubbed, but still, the quiet is a bit much given the year he’s had.
But hey, that’s the way it has been for Middleton since he became an every-game starter seasons ago. I’m sure he doesn’t mind all that much especially having gotten the dollar recognition from his own team this past off-season.
Bucks owner wants to top Michael Jordan’s Bulls: ‘I think we should do everything’ (ESPN)
Everything about this little side story is relatively innocuous, but I just love the mental image of Lasry, after being told by MJ to focus on a championship rather than winning the most regular season games ever, saying:
“Wow, that’s great. Thank you for that. Just so you know, we’re going to focus on beating your record and winning a championship.”
Bucks agree to $15 minimum wage at Fiserv Forum; new labor group hails victory (Milwaukee Business Journal)
Not much connection here with the on-court product, but an interesting development for all of the staff who help keep the Forum up and running through the season. As the article states, the Bucks didn’t go into negotiations with an adversarial intent,
Got a minute for Milwaukee? The Bucks are really good. (Salt Lake Tribune)
I tried figuring out why a Salt Lake newspaper dedicated a column to praising the Bucks, but all press is good press in these parts.
This is about as good as you can hope to get from local media spotlighting this Milwaukee team. Even the points about not hearing much about them all season is pretty apt as we’re generally aware. But, the Good Word continues to spread, fanbase by fanbase until the whole NBA world knows.
Know Your Enemy
Pelicans - The Bird Writes - Brandon Ingram is worthy All-Star candidate, but there remains room for improvement
Brandon Ingram is an enigma wrapped up in a puzzle delivered in the form of a riddle. He’s continued jumping forward in his progress as an offensive option at age 22 and likely still has a few more steps to go even as he looks ready for a max contract this summer.
There’s still room for improvement, though, even from a first-time All-Star. Namely, his tendencies towards isolation sets outside of the flow of New Orleans’s offense. How he improves there — and operating alongside Zion Williamson — will be key to the Pellies’s future.
Sixers - Liberty Ballers - The Seventh Man: thoughts on the Sixers’ playoff rotation before the NBA trade deadline
A truly deep exercise over on Liberty Ballers figuring out the lineup combinations available to coach Brett Brown with the Philly roster as currently constructed. Which, to be fair, is a weird construction given it’s relative size and length in the starting unit particularly. If anything I like it as a jumping off point as we continue to think about Milwaukee’s rotation, especially if like against the Nuggets the full complement of talent is unavailable.
Magic - Orlando Pinstriped Post - How the Miami Heat rebuilt faster than the Orlando Magic
An article so total in its praise of a rival, so fastidious in it’s coverage, so candid in its ability to stare the endless rebuild in the face it’d make early 2010s Brew Hoop blush.
To be fair, the Heat have had a premier level of organizational weight for over a decade now with very little shake-up even when the team was doing a fair bit of losing. At least there’s the chance of luring a Lopez brother for year-round Disney exposure?
Fan Content of the Week
Two worthy contenders this week, the first being retiredjanitor’s piece on big men and three-point defense (a salient topic for a Bucks team that loses when opponents go nuts from three!) and nathan.janc for his in-the-throes-of-the-51-point-moment appreciation of Khris Middleton:
(sorry burt, I liked your Khris piece as well!)
Social Media Section
This was how Giannis returned to social media this week
How on earth are we about to have almost 50 wins before All Star and we don’t have 3 All Stars in the game???? @EBled2 is an All Star!— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) January 31, 2020
Okay, but all we have is a frozen pizza
A whirlwind of a week for Khris
Lots of good Paris trip content here
MMMR 2019-2020 Prediction Record: 33-17
retired janitor’s 2019-2020 Prediction Record: 42-7
A pair of compelling national TV games in the same week? Count me in!
That’s right, Tuesday and Thursday will see the Bucks air on TNT as they head to New Orleans to play the Pellies and return home to host the Sixers in turn. Uh, they also play Orlando on Saturday.
New Orleans will be a fun challenge simply because Zion Williamson exists and there isn’t nearly enough film on him to come up with a true idea what’s best for slowing him down. Philadelphia already pantsed the heck out of Milwaukee on Christmas Day and has gone on to spin in strange circles for over a month going 8-9 since. Even with their mediocre form they can’t be written off again, so how the Bucks adjust (if at all) will be of interest in its own right. Can they return to the gameplan as usual and outlast another Sixers shooting night?
Pessimist that I am, I’ll guess a 1-2 week for the first time all season with those two games ended up as losses. We’ve seen the Bucks struggle against teams with a singular dynamic force that can break up their defensive scheme so it wouldn’t be surprising to see that repeated twice in the same week. It’s likely they’ll now go and stomp all three opponents into the dirt in front of the nation. Such is the rollercoaster life of a predictor like myself.