(First things first, thanks to everyone for the kind comments last week after my marathon. Was a nice thing to read while I was splayed out on the couch surrounded by empty Powerade bottles.)
I’m quite aware I spend a lot of time on this column wondering at how good Giannis is. I spend an equal amount of time pouting that the rest of the world appears incapable of giving him his due. It just didn’t make sense to me that a guy of his stature and skillset struggled to get the same due his contemporaries were benefitting from.
Belatedly, I’ve begun to believe the disconnect stems not from dislike for Giannis or discounting his ability, but from a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is he is capable of. We’re in a transitory period between the traditional big man and the jump shot revolution, and Giannis belongs to neither camp. And so when irregular viewers watch him they have a tough time comprehending what they’re seeing: Who, exactly, plays like Giannis? The answer is nobody.
Without an archetype to pull from it’s easy to disbelieve that he can be the force of nature that will run the league for years. We’re used to LeBron’s physical orchestration, KD’s astounding shotmaking, Curry’s jumper, etc. We’re not used to a guy who puts it all on the line to try and literally dominant opponents while capably using his gravity to create leverage for teammates.
It’s given me a chance for peace of mind. They may be wrong, but I don’t think they’re wrong for malicious reasons. They’re just wrong because they don’t know any better.
2021-22 Season Preview: Milwaukee Bucks (NBA.com)
That jump from 20th in the league in net rating to first over the course of a single offseason is so funny to me. Those Kidd years were awful. Thankfully we get to contemplate better futures and wonder at what kind of witches’ brew of a rotation Mike Budenholzer will trot out there to ease us gradually towards the playoffs.
A Reintroduction to the NBA Title Race (The Ringer)
If we’ve learned anything from the way these title race primers have been presented, it’s going to be a long season where Brooklyn and LA dominate headlines while the Bucks sort of exist. Which, fine, I don’t mind (excepting my capacity as guy-who-has-to-find-media-stories-about-the-team). But... I surely don’t see the playoff run as a fluke which begs the question about underrating where Milwaukee is.
Which is as good a time as any to remind everyone that all of these prognoses are made up and none of it matters.
NBA top 15 big men rankings for 2021-22: Giannis Antetokounmpo seizes No. 1 ahead of Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid (CBS Sports)
The traditional NBA big man is dead. Long live the NBA big man.
Even Giannis, a giant who is happy to physically bump and bang in the post as much as refs will allow, incorporates within his game aspects of guard-like playmaking while attempting to pump up his normally moribund 3P%. It is not enough to be tall and/or physically imposing; refining your body control is what differentiates the greats from the also-rans. However, when it’s all put together, they’re nearly impossible to stop even in an era where the “big man” isn’t the same as it used to be.
Breaking down odds for Milwaukee Bucks heading into 2021-22 NBA season (Draftkings Nation)
We apparently have a SB Nation sister site dedicated just to DraftKings (Draft Kings? Draftkings???) and gambling! I’m certain there is some nuance I’m missing in its existence and relationship to the mothership.
Anyhow, they’ve posted some odds for the Bucks ranging from title chances, win total, whether they can win the Eastern Conference, etc. The only thing about sports gambling I understand is that a minus, against (my) logic, means you’re favored, and a plus means you’re not favored, so I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to decipher whether we’ve been slighted by the oddsmakers.
Big Ten announces Lisa Byington Award for top female broadcaster on Big Ten Network’s Student U (awfulannouncing.com) & Milwaukee Bucks name Dave Koehn as new radio play-by-play announcer (awfulannouncing.com)
A few pieces regarding the newest broadcast team acquisitions in the form of Lisa Byington on TV and Dave Koehn on radio. It’ll take some time for them to build the same cache that Jim Paschke and Ted Davis had thanks to their long careers in the roles, but I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the commentary and presentation this year and beyond.
Fan Post of the Week
It was hard picking a winner this week. Really really REALLY hard. All entrants were worthy of consideration, each one deserving of the victory in their own way. In the end, though, I had to take note of The Peoples’ Rec. Which is why this week, retired janitor wins with “Buck Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope”, the opening move of a nine (9!) part series of fan posts giving us the blueprint to a repeat title.
Know Your Enemy
Forgot to include this segment in last week’s column! It’s preseason for us too, you know.
- Utah Jazz - SLC Dunk - Jared Butler and Elijah Hughes shine in Utah Jazz preseason loss to the Dallas Mavericks
Preseason basketball is for a lot of things, but it’s mostly for getting way too excited about your second-round pick rookies. Jared Butler is casting the same spell over Jazz fans that rookies scoring against lackadaisical defenses are casting on every fanbase across the league. It’s fun!
- Dallas Mavericks - Mavs Moneyball - The Mavericks’ number of three point attempts is something to keep an eye on
I just have a really hard time thinking Jason Kidd will work out to be a capable coach in Dallas. It isn’t even his suggesting that the Mavs are going to dial back their three-point offense since that may be a correct adjustment for their roster. He’s just... Jason Kidd. I’ve watched enough of that show to know it’s a dicey proposition at best. Seriously, look at this:
Everything's bigger in Texas... including collars on shirts. pic.twitter.com/eBNqBcQiJE— BlazinBucksin6 (@BuckBlazin) October 7, 2021
The Social Media Section
This whole Giannis thing working out the way it has is still the most unlikely sports story in a very long time
This trophy has been everywhere around the world and back these 13 weeks
The disrespect including Brook Lopez in here. Guy keeps that franchise afloat single-handed for years and this is what he gets
It's official.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 7, 2021
New York will go a full decade without one championship from the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL pic.twitter.com/vkrhsqPPlF
Sandro’s very first “Welcome to the NBA” moments
Giannis already bullying the rookies on the court. pic.twitter.com/e1bzYeSQpY— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 7, 2021
Donte for $99 mil feels a little... high?
Is Deandre Ayton worth the max?— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) October 6, 2021
How much should Mikal Bridges sign for? Collin Sexton?@johnhollinger applies his Expected Extension Value formula to the 2018 NBA Draft Class.
The results: https://t.co/Zpbhmh9fQ8 pic.twitter.com/U5nKdqvQGl
This is the team they expect to win the whole thing, huh?
Giannis could be tasked with telling the nation that the Soviets just launched their nukes at us and would still struggle to stifle a smile from a joke he just told himself
"I know you have a lot of questions...I'm not going to address them...haha...I practiced today. I feel good...thank you, have a good day!!" pic.twitter.com/YmE9Cryaxu— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 6, 2021
retired janitor’s 2021-2022 (preseason) prediction record: 1-1
Riley’s 2021-2022 (preseason) prediction record: 0-2
A classic beginning to this segment’s third iteration as one of the games never actually finished and I had the result flipped on the other two. Again, it’s preseason for us, too.
Two more games on deck this week before the real deal begins: On the road in Utah on Wednesday and back at home on Friday against the Mavericks. We’ll take one over Utah since preseason would be an appropriate time for us to actually win one in Salt Lake City and we’ll lose against Dallas because Mike Budenholzer will have no interest in actively being a spoiler in Jason Kidd’s return to Milwaukee.