Let’s just address this from the very top, okay? Yes, I was wrong when I guessed that the Bucks would be rusty/nonchalant/losers in their two meaningless scrimmages last week. YOU all knew that was going to be the case, but I certainly did not, so here I am before you bearing it all.
As H.L. Mencken once said (according to the internet), “The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” I’ve had months to increase my wisdom while basketball was away and if anything my guessing is even worse than before.
The upside to my embarrassment is that the Bucks looked good against the Spurs and Kings. Like, really good. Giannis ran low on steam quicker than you’d be comfortable with, but that will come over the next month or two. Khris was a passing maestro, Brook was murderous when put on the block (offensively and defensively), Donte continues to flash in every game, and hopefully any cold shooting work itself out with time.
All that points to a promising time in the Bubble for Milwaukee. Now they’ve just got to get through things without catastrophic injury or contracting disease. There are worse challenges, I suppose.
Reintroducing the Contenders: Milwaukee Bucks (The Ringer)
An interesting point here from Paolo Uggetti: The Bucks will have an almost insurmountable 6.5 game lead through the seeding games. Assuming their grip on the top East seed is safe, does that impact Mike Budenholzer’s strategy before the “playoffs” begin? Things like forcing Giannis to take threes and only threes, running point Donte for 20 minutes just because you can, getting DJ Wilson into a rhythm, etc. all could be tinkered with since the stakes are relatively low.
It’s all house money, though. A time to loosen up and find the right mental state stomping opponents like they’re a bunch of dudes at the local Y. Should be fun viewing either way.
The next great sports dynasty hinges on Giannis Antetokounmpo (New York Post)
This piece, while fine, can be regarded mostly as a cover so that the Big New York Media could posit the absolutely insane idea that Giannis would ever choose to willingly go to the Knicks.
Otherwise the conclusion is probably not far off the mark: With LeBron aging out and the long-term status of the likes of Kawhi Leonard unclear, the likeliest next dynasty in a long list of NBA dynasties will be wherever soon-to-be consecutive MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo ends up. Which means the next dynasty is going to be in Milwaukee. Speak it into existence.
MVP, DPOY, and a few votes for Coach of the Year come Milwaukee’s way if ESPN’s voting is to be any indicator of future trends. The MVP conversation feels essentially over since stats in the Bubble won’t count towards season totals and, try as LeBron & Co. might to lobby for an award, it’s hard to overlook a 29.6/13.7/5.8 season from a guy who averaged a laughable 30.9 minutes played a game. Nearly a point a minute played. Lol.
Defensively, it’s somewhat harder to get a bead on things because of the more ambiguous nature of defensive stat collection. You have your raw block, steal, rebound, matchup, defensive win shares, etc. to fall back on, but usually a wider perception of a player’s value on that end of the floor plays a role, too. Luckily Giannis is a poaching nightmare who, when paired with Brook Lopez, is an actual nightmare for opponents to get around. How’s that for narrative?
Mavs Giannis Donuts: Dallas’ Only Recruiting Advantage (Sports Illustrated?)
Vulture Talk? Involving the Mavs? Yes, the insanity continues.
While absurd, I can at least squint my eyes so much that they’re virtually closed and pretend that Toronto, Los Angeles, Miami, Golden State, etc. could confuse themselves into getting Giannis. But Dallas? Dallas? Some north Texan sinkhole who lucked into a German teenager from Würzburg who didn’t know any better is supposed to snag Giannis? Okay.
The Social Media Section
Giannis retains the innocent energy of the first deer, though. Balance in all things
What it used to be like playing the Bucks vs playing them now pic.twitter.com/ILs8kWQyjM— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) July 25, 2020
Pencil me as “mixed” on this idea
Kinda slaps tbh
The crew is fully assembled
— Pat Connaughton (@pconnaughton) July 26, 2020
Bledsoe growing his hair out = championship
How does he always manage to look so relaxed?
I just... George Hill posts a LOT about his ranch and wild life and wildebeest and his military-grade rifles
Donte continuing to work with Malcolm on an important project
View this post on Instagram
Humans can’t live without water. Join me in building wells in Africa to make clean water accessible to families. Thanks @MalcolmBrogdon and @Brogdonfamilyfnd for starting the Hoops4Humanity movement! #Hoops4Humanity #equitableworld #humanity #cleanwater #waterislife #drinkingwater #humanhealth
Riley’s 2020 NBA BUBBLE Prediction Record: 0-2
retiredjanitor’s 2020 NBA BUBBLE Prediction Record: 2-0
Hardy har har. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
After Tuesday’s scrimmage against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Bucks will begin their campaign through the eight games leading up to the post-season. It starts Friday against the Boston Celtics and continues Sunday against the Houston Rockets.
Since the scrimmages have been a romp and the meaningful games are against two of this team’s most strident rivals I won’t be shocked when three steamrollings are on the menu. 3-0 to try and compensate for my poor lack of faith from last week.
See you all here next week when I’m inexplicably 0-5 on guesses.