The basketball gods work in mysterious ways. None more mysterious than how quickly Milwaukee’s depth concerns shifted from the big body portion of the roster to the small fast guy portion. I’m sure They got a nice chuckle out of the new conundrum.
As was the case with the center rotation concerns for most of the year, the problem facing Milwaukee isn’t an existential one right now, but more couched in the need to find bodies to soak up minutes. With Donte DiVincenzo sporting Sacramento purple, Pat Connaughton icing his hand, and George Hill racking up DNP-Olds, we’re effectively down to Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, and Wes Matthews when it comes to plus players at the guard spots.
Unless and until the Bucks can secure the services of a buyout guard (a la Goran Dragic), Mike Budenholzer will have to navigate the gaps. He could always up the minutes for his remaining guards, but that’d go against the grain of the team’s regular season philosophy. There’s the opportunity to push Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo into ever greater playmaking roles, but they’re both already at or near career highs in AST% (and TOV% in Khris’s case). Or maybe Jordan Nwora has a facilitator gene buried deep in there we just haven’t seen just yet.
Thus far this year the team has been able to navigate the big man rotation essentially on the backs of just Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis. It was dicey at times and there are arguments to be made about the excessive miles that may have added to each guy, but they did it. They’ll weather this one too, though this latest crisis may put paid to the idea that Milwaukee can make a final healthy push for the East’s top seed. Now begins standings watch in its full late-season glory.
I have zero clue what the future holds for Donte, though I hope he has success and gets a nice offer sheet this offseason. He’s already off on the right foot since he’ll have done a good amount of apartment hunting from his first stint as a Sacramento King. Go forth, Donte, and do stuff.
Ranking Eastern Conference contenders after the trade deadline: Bucks still on top, followed by Sixers, Nets (CBS Sports) & 6 takeaways from busy trade deadline (NBA.com)
Has there been a regular season in recent memory with this much “noise” for want of a better word? Between the Covid wave that swept the league back in December to injuries and the likes of Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving sitting out, its going to be difficult to suss out a solid Eastern Conference hierarchy. Almost every single team in the East playoff picture right now could get red hot and nab a few series wins and I’d be totally nonplussed.
NBA All-Star Draft results: LeBron James takes Giannis Antetokounmpo first, James Harden picked last (CBS Sports)
We thank LeBron for 1) Making sure the Giannis-Nikola Jokic superteam lives on another year and 2) Giving us a chance to see Giannis go all out to try and block a Khris three, only for Khris to earn the foul call for a trip to the line.
James Harden And Ben Simmons Got The Moves They Wanted. Will They Work Out For Their Teams? (FiveThirtyEight)
I know it isn’t the Bucks, but this is a pretty definitive recap of how things may work out for Brooklyn and Philadelphia with their new star constellations. Lots of interesting points in here about playstyles, team strategic philosophies, and much more besides. I’ll remain wedded to the camp that believes its exceedingly difficult to make a deadline star-swap work efficiently come the postseason, so hopefully we’ll get two more data points in that direction.
Fan Post of the Week
Pretty quiet on the Fan Post front this week. I know you guys are busy adjusting your myriad Excel spreadsheets and recalibrating all the home-brew statistics to bring us that good content. In the meantime, friend of the site dgroll1 asks the important questions with, “Was cutting Cousins a stupid move on our GM???”. To be fair, this was written prior to our obtaining Serge Ibaka via trade.
Know Your Enemy
- Portland Blazers - Blazers Edge - The Dust Has Settled: An Overview of The Blazers Trade Deadline Haul
The Blazers were one of the busier teams in the lead up to last week’s trade deadline, sending out six players and acquiring seven (plus a future first and a bunch of future seconds). We’ll probably have to wait to see what happens this offseason before really judging what direction Portland is heading in.
- Indiana Pacers - Indy Cornrows - On the feel and functionality of Tyrese Haliburton
Indy’s another team who has functionally waved a white flag on this season, yet they’re more interesting in contrast to Portland because of Tyrese Haliburton. Whether Haliburton is able to pay off the hype he’s (understandably) generated is an open question. For the Pacers its a nice change of potential pace from the quagmire they were rooted in the past few years.
- Philadelphia 76ers - Liberty Ballers - How James Harden can help elevate the Sixers’ offense
Even in a (relatively) diminished state, Harden is an offensive dynamo. He’ll inevitably life Philly’s output so long as he can consistently get out on the floor. However, I caution our frenemy Sixers fans to remember just how much bad karma they’re taking onboard with this trade. That'll be a drag even if he does average 50 points a game from now until oblivion.
The Social Media Section
Shoutout to OldResorter for posting this under the staff trade deadline roundtable. Reposting Serge Ibaka’s opening Milwaukee press conference here for the curious:
Some of the finer moments in NBA history happened last week
Kevin Durant picks Gobert over James Harden last and LeBron is laughing pic.twitter.com/dm3jSUJ3cJ— Alex (@dbs408) February 11, 2022
Check the date on Kylestradamus’s tweet here
Jon Horst is going to find a way to flip Semi into a competent bench player and the league is not ready for that— Kyle Carr (@KyleCoche) January 8, 2022
His banter is improving by leaps and bounds. More proof that he can perfect everything he sets his mind to
You have to ask why pic.twitter.com/eZQsPpl13q— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) February 9, 2022
Lori doing double duty as Olympic correspondent and Milwaukee’s ambassador to the world
This was so cool. At the end of speed skating I met these two students. They are volunteers at Games. This young woman saw my Bucks pin and is a BIG Milwaukee Bucks fan and wants to be a sports journalist. I gave her all the bucks stuff I had left in my bag. Rooting for her! https://t.co/Q9EcZncdXJ pic.twitter.com/yTpWpw7j4T— Lori Nickel (@LoriNickel) February 12, 2022
James Harden’s about to rejuvenate Philly’s club scene in a way few people can comprehend right now
Woj: “It wasn't lost on teammates that Harden continued his late-night social habits, especially on the Nets'— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) February 11, 2022
last Western Conference trip this month.”
“For a player purporting to have a
hand and hamstring injury, this wasn't inspiring confidence within a team in freefall.”
Au revoir, Ragu
I know that ain’t who I think it is...
Jimmy Butler says he wants more brawls in the NBA— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 8, 2022
“They’re not letting you get into no brawls no more. Nobody’s going to let you do that. I wish that they would let us do that a little bit, if I’m just being honest.”
(Via Complex) pic.twitter.com/58J1EeMaFt
retired janitor’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 35-22
Riley’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 33-24
The home stretch right before the All-Star break gives us some of the most meaningless basketball this side of the new year. That’s bad news for the Bucks because they really probably should try to win the upcoming games against the Trail Blazers and Pacers. I digress.
Our guys won’t be leaving town at all this week until they head off on vacation. All three games will be in the Forum, the first of which will be tonight against Portland, followed by the Pacers on Tuesday and the Sixers on Thursday.
We’ll nab those two wins to start the week to pad our record, but drop one against Philly in annoying fashion when Sandro and Jordan Nwora are the only players Bud decides to have suit up.