How simple it is to struggle to understand how all the parts will ultimately fit together. Your Milwaukee Bucks have had a share of injuries sustained both prior to the season and during it that have combined to result in something of a rotating mishmash of lineups. For a week Jevon Carter looks like me might be the guy, then its MarJon Beauchamp’s turn, before Bobby steps his production back up as an emergency starter while Pat Connaughton and Khris Middleton start their campaigns. In spite of the ugly basketball that derived from this rotation chaos, the Bucks kept racking up wins.
Now, after their 128-119 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, we can more or less declare this team to be at the healthiest it's been all season. And now that the pieces of the puzzle are more or less all available at the same table, you can begin to better glimpse the range of possibilities GM Jon Horst has handed coach Mike Budenholzer.
There are tools here that can be mixed and matched in a whole number of ways depending on what the opponent asks of you. Against the Pelicans and Zion Williamson, the coaching staff demanded physically strong individual defenders do everything short of putting Zion in a chokehold to prevent him from ever getting into a rhythm. Jrue Holiday, Wes Matthews, and Joe Ingles all answered the call. When the unit on the floor needs chaotic energy on both ends of the floor to pick up the pace or freneticism, MarJon Beauchamp is there. If you need someone other than the Big Three to create, Joe Ingles offers crisp passing and Bobby Portis self-generated scoring. Thanasis Antetokounmpo is on the roster.
It took time to reach this point, to finally see something of the whole that could be made out of these parts; it will take more time to figure out which guys play best together, who can adequately cover for others’ weaknesses, and whether the offense won’t just go right back into the grave once the playoffs start in spite of it all. But what matters now is that it is all there, and it all more or less makes sense. That’s an exciting place to be, doubly so with a 22-8 record to boot and the top seed in the conference.
The Top 100 Players in the NBA (The Ringer)
Direct from the listicle-addled mind of Bill Simmons to your screen, the Ringer presents their Draft Big Board... er, top 100 NBA player rankings. Much like the famed Board, this looks like it will be an exercise of four individuals somewhat arbitrarily moving guys up and down a rankings board for the content, clicks, and crucially, the hell of it. Giannis debuts at number one in the world, Khris Middleton — for reasons that are unclear to me — is at 26, Jrue Holiday is at 29 right now, and Brook Lopez rounds out Milwaukee’s delegation at 42. Exciting!
Bucks’ Joe Ingles experience: ‘When did you figure out he never shuts up?’ (The Athletic - possible paywall)
I know Joe is known for talking trash with opponents, but I’m starting to get the sense that he just chats mess with every living being around him at all times? You wonder if the real reason he is in Milwaukee is to try and bully Giannis into picking a free throw routine that more or less works. Being notoriously old, injured, and Australian, Ingles is probably one of the few role players in the world happy to tell Giannis he’s a joke. Ingles knows one gear and one gear only: Verbal violence.
The NBA’s new Michael Jordan Trophy for MVP was made in Milwaukee (Milwaukee Record)
A genuinely cool story (to me, at least) that sees a Milwaukee-based art foundry take the lead on designing and creating the NBA’s new Michael Jordan award for regular season MVPs. You can take a look at Vanguard Sculpting’s gallery to get a feel for the work they do, and while I appreciate the “realistic” pieces, I’m glad the final award design leaned in a more Art Deco-direction. All the marketing-approved design elements like it weighing 23.6 lbs to match MJ’s jersey number and number of titles aside, of course.
It has been a really good season for Brook Lopez, and an even better week what with his absolute decimation of the Utah Jazz on the glass and putting up 30 against the Pelicans last night. He’s been so good as the legitimately register DPOY talk which is astounding given his age and where he was a year ago. Steve Aschburner at NBA.com got to chat with him a bit about his season so far and how he’s progressed as a defender. Some of the quotes might as well have been written by Mike Budenholzer, but Brook is generally charming as ever.
Bucks way-too-early predictions for 2023 NBA trade deadline (ClutchPoints)
Derrick Rose ending his playing career as a Milwaukee Buck is such a messed up concept, my mind can barely process the mere theory of it. Everyone has the feeling that we’ll be active in the trade market (see: Jae Crowder), but like most seasons your mileage may vary as to what position you believe is most important. Another “true” point guard with a little more juice left than George Hill is certainly an option, though I'm unsure if D-Rose is the guy for this particular job.
I’m sure I had dashed genuine hopes of JSOnline Castaway 2.0’s winning FPOTW when the MMMR failed to go up yesterday morning. For a moment there, contrary to what JSOC2.0 believes, “NOBODY” may have ultimately come out this week’s victor. Worry not! Another FPOTW is here for the giving, and JSOnline Castaway 2.0 will indeed take home the hardware for, “Bah....HUMBUG: Rating the Worst Christmas Songs of All Time”. Timely given where we are on the annual calendar, and more importantly, extremely well done. Number seven is my particular favorite:
“7. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like witnessing the woman who gave you life in the midst of a scandalous affair with your childhood hero.”
Disturbing childhood moments, and a happy new year to all!
Know Your Enemy
- Cleveland Cavaliers - Fear the Sword - The Cleveland Cavaliers finally have their superstar in Donovan Mitchell
Readers of the MMMR will have seen me post some articles unrelated to the Bucks, but attempting to evaluate the expected outcomes for teams involved in “superstar” trades. From the data dissected, it generally seems difficult for a team acquiring a star to suddenly take off and have it gel productively right away, if ever. So far, it looks like we can notch the Cavs in the “it worked” column in the aftermath of their deal to bring Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland. Good for them!
The Nets sure do know how to keep you guessing, eh? From assembling every mercurial Goober star in the league to form some sort of mega Goober, to crashing out against us of all teams, to the large one demanding a trade, to a mauling by the Celtics, add in a handful of vaccine skepticism and a dash of antisemitism, and what’s the final result? Winning 9 of their last 10 games and sitting firmly in fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with a 19-12 record. Sure.
- Boston Celtics - Celtics Blog - Boston is down bad right now: 10 Takeaways from Celtics-Magic
Knowing our luck, Boston will suddenly snap out of their funk and record the NBA’s first flawless victory against us in front of the nation on Christmas Day.
The Social Media Section
The 7,000,000 mile stare of Serge’s to close is worth everything
Serge still looks amazing, though. Don’t get confused about that.
Through adversity you find the ugliest goddamn shoes you’ve ever seen
Idk this one feels like a miss to me lol
Tough look for Nike. They missed out on Giannis’s successor and they’re already teammates.
If you were looking for a comments section to discuss the new award names, head down below
New names and trophies for NBA’s major individual awards:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 13, 2022
- MVP: The Michael Jordan Trophy
- DPOY: Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy
- ROY: Wilt Chamberlain Trophy
- Sixth Man of Year: John Havlicek Trophy
- Most Improved: George Mikan Trophy
- New Clutch Player of Year: Jerry West Trophy
Danny Green understands the terms and conditions of his assignment
Riley’s 2022-2023 Weekly Prediction Record: 14-16
Milwaukee’s Actual 2022-2023 Record: 22-8
I’ll be honest and say I’d have likely guessed we’d lose to the Pelicans out of sheer pessimistic inertia. The Bucks continue their road trip this week with visits around the eastern half of this great nation. It’s a Wednesday, Friday, Sunday set up with games against the Cavs, Nets, and Celtics respectively.
I feel good about where the team is starting to settle and so will back them to be perfect the rest of the way this week. If they can cap it all by going into Boston and nabbing a validating win, all the better.