With the return of the NBA still weeks away, and coronavirus enjoying a healthy resurgence in Florida, concerns about health of the members of the Milwaukee Bucks travel party are at an all-time high. Usually, fans are worried about injuries, but in this case the biggest concern ahead of the July 30th restart of the 2019-20 regular season is exposure to COVID-19. With the team’s arrival in Orlando, it’s clear that the Bucks are in some way affected.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer says that the team's entire travel party did not travel to Orlando, but he also did not give any update on who did not travel.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) July 11, 2020
Bucks are done with their Orlando quarantine and had their first practice this afternoon. They spent the time doing mostly individual work -- no 5-on-5.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) July 11, 2020
Bud said the whole travel party is not there yet, but everyone who was there (he wouldn't name names) is healthy & practiced.
Of course, it’s best for the team to play their cards close to the chest, and there’s truly no benefit to exposing the names of those who were exposed to the virus. At the same time, we already know that the practice facility got shut down because someone tested positive. If speculation is going to run as rampant as the pandemic has been allowed to run in this country, we may as well speculate on who’s in the bubble and who’s not.
We’ll update this post as needed, including whatever “evidence” we find that shows the presence of members of the team within the quarantine zone of Gran Destino.
CONFIRMED BUCKS IN ORLANDO
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton
My will shall shape my future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man's doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me, or I can be lost in a maze. My choice, my responsibility, win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny. -Elaine Maxwell #BackToWork pic.twitter.com/ofDPYbdXsl— Giannis Ugo Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) July 9, 2020
This is the biggest relief so far; Giannis and Khris are the team’s top two players and will bear the heaviest burden as the Bucks chase a Finals berth.
Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez
The left skee ball machine isn't scoring correctly. I got 3 5k's and a 10k and my final score was 5000— Robin Lopez (@rolopez42) July 11, 2020
Obviously the Lopez twins wouldn’t miss a paid trip to Disney if they could help it, but that they’re up and about within the confines of the bubble should lay to rest any concerns about the Bucks’ ability to execute the zone drop.
George Hill and Mike Budenholzer (masked in the below video)
Milwaukee’s point-men on the bench and off the bench both being present in Florida is reassuring, as the team will rely on their leadership in the coming weeks (and months).
Sterling had lost his spot in the rotation after a few months, but clearly his availability in Florida will matter if anybody above him in the rotation gets shut down.
First bit of content from a Bucks player from inside the NBA’s campus in Orlando comes from @Divincenzo.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) July 10, 2020
Looks ready to go with Call of Duty: War Zone and a year’s worth of ketchup. pic.twitter.com/dLnlwWHLun
Number of shoes notwithstanding, the Bucks’ young ball-hawk is a fixture on the bench unit, and the defense will rely on him.
Frank Mason III
Just watched Frank Mason’s IG Live for a bit. As always, Mason is a man of the people—he had several fans on just to chat, including one KU fan who put his grandmother on the call. Also he’s working out in his room while quarantining upon arrival in the bubble.— Ti Windisch (@TiWindisch) July 11, 2020
The G-League MVP is not expected to be a contributor, but none of us expected teams to take four months off before resuming the season. Glad to see that the young two-way player is staying ready.
Update! (July 12)
r/mkebucks has a megathread dedicated to this same topic, and used a source I hadn’t considered (Instagram) to confirm the presence of Wes Matthews, D.J. Wilson, and Marvin Williams, as well as general manager Jon Horst, assistant coach Darvin Ham and everyone’s favorite strength and conditioning coach Suki Hobson. We also had the Bucks’ Twitter feed show a photo of Wes Matthews, meaning the starting lineup is (theoretically) only missing Eric Bledsoe.
Update! (July 19)
Ersan Ilyasova and Thanasis Antetokounmpo are definitely in the bubble. Happy belated birthday, Thanasis!
Confirmed Player Depth Chart (as of July 20)
The biggest name on the list of Bucks who haven’t been confirmed to be present in the bubble is starting point guard Eric Bledsoe. As the focal point of the Bucks’ perimeter defense (primarily on pick-and-rolls), the rotation will be in flux if he’s unavailable.
Update! (July 16)
Eric Bledsoe did indeed test positive for COVID-19, but reportedly is asymptomatic and may rejoin the team before the start of regular season games.
Update! (July 20)
Just this morning, Pat Connaughton announced that he too tested positive for COVID-19, but also is reportedly feeling healthy. His timeline is yet unknown.
Other members of the backcourt who haven’t yet been seen/heard in Orlando (as of Saturday afternoon) are
starting guard Wesley Matthews, reserve guards Pat Connaughton and Kyle Korver, reserve forwards Ersan Ilyasova, Marvin Williams, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and D.J. Wilson, and two-way guard player Cameron Reynolds.
Again, there is plenty of time before the season restarts, and no reason to be concerned about any member of the team (including coaches and staff) not being immediately visible in the bubble. This is all speculation as we count down the days to the return of the NBA (hoping that it actually happens), and even then the health and well-being of members of the Bucks is more important than the team’s title chances. Here’s to them staying safe, as well as you and yours staying safe, wherever you might be.