Welcome back to “What If...” a series that will see me cover and go through notable Milwaukee Bucks moments and wonder, what if the opposite happened? Most of these will reverse painful moments in Milwaukee Bucks history, but sometimes the “what if” takes away the good and leaves us with a darker timeline. But first, a quick note to explain my logic: the future is entirely fictional and is rarely based on statistics, facts or reason.
In the summer of 2014, the Milwaukee Bucks were coming off a terrible season, where they won 15 games and held the second pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. There was a different feeling surrounding the team, with longtime owner Herb Kohl having just sold the team to Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, and Jamie Dinan. The start of a new arena was in place. With a fresh ownership group, there was the feeling that change was imminent, and the head coach would be the first domino to fall. The new ownership group decided to fire then-coach Larry Drew and traded two second round draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets for their head coach Jason Kidd. As we all know, the Kidd era started well and became a massive lakefront tire fire that led to a whole Twitter movement advocating for his firing. Players were annoyed, catchphrases produced eye rolls, a once promising defense became a mess. But what if there was a world where the LED group doesn’t hire their buddy and “energy and effort” wasn’t synonymous with the franchise’s downward trend in the middle of this past decade?
Kidd was officially announced as head coach in June of 2014, unfortunately eliminating their chances of hiring Steve Kerr, who was hired by the Golden State Warriors in May, and Quin Snyder who was hired earlier that month by the Utah Jazz. Still, Milwaukee opts to fire Larry Drew, given a 15-win season is not the best first impression you want to give to your new boss. On the bright side of this alternate reality, Milwaukee is able to get an experienced head coach to help with their rebuild, while also providing entertaining basketball. The Bucks hire Mike D’Antoni who recently resigned from coaching the Lakers as the prospect of working with budding young talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker with veterans like Jared Dudley, OJ Mayo and Larry Sanders can let him attempt a second run at the “7 seconds or less” offense. The Bucks defense doesn’t reach the heights that it did with Kidd, but the offense looks dramatically more modern and Milwaukee still finishes 6th in the East, ultimately losing to the Chicago Bulls in the Playoffs.
One of the main benefits of not having Jason Kidd was the lack of worry about Kidd controlling the roster. D’Antoni works well with Hammond and the Bucks don’t make the trade that brings in Miles Plumlee, Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams. This then prevents Plumlee getting his massive contract, but sadly the Plumlee toothbrush holder is eradicated from history. Milwaukee doesn’t use MCW to trade for Tony Snell, sorry @SnellSZN, but prevents having to trade Snell’s contract and another first round pick in the 2019 offseason.
Overall, Milwaukee does significantly better not handing out bad contracts because with D’Antoni, they are able to spot 3-and-D wings to help the team. Milwaukee manages its assets better, starting with not making the disastrous Grevis Vasquez/Normal Powell trade or drafting Rashad Vaughn and taking Jerian Grant instead. Dudley stays, much to the delight of everyone, but Greg Monroe doesn’t sign with Milwaukee due to not being the best fit with D’Antoni’s scheme.
Giannis still has his superstardom growth, but falls short on the 2016-17 and 2017-18 season. Giannis doesn’t openly complain like some player D’Antoni currently coaches, but Bucks Twitter does the fighting for him. Jabari and Malcolm Brogdon enjoy their coach they currently have; Parker due to his defensive effort getting a slight pass and Brogdon because D’Antoni doesn’t throw players under the bus.
Milwaukee continues to challenge for the East, falling short until the 2018-19 season, where they reach the NBA finals but lose to a Golden State Warriors team who three-peats with Kevin Durant. The biggest beneficiary is Bucks Twitter, who doesn’t need every avatar to be #FireKidd, which instead becomes the Detroit Pistons problem.