They’ll go down as the pairing that built the foundation for Milwaukee’s turnaround from also-ran to true contender. Swapping seamlessly between roles as hammer and anvil, the unique excellence Brook Lopez brought to defending the paint freed Giannis Antetokounmpo from responsibility as a primary defender. No longer tethered to a ball handler or falling backwards to back perimeter teammates up, Giannis could conserve energy before skying in as the third-line of defense. That Lopez could shoot the ball well for a seven-footer fit perfectly in Milwaukee’s four/five-out system on offense, too.
As with everything in sport, times eternal forward march means that their partnership anchoring the starting lineup on a nightly basis will come to an end at some point. We got a glimpse of that near-future last season with Lopez out with back trouble most of the year, forcing Giannis into hefty center minutes alongside relatively-undersized Bobby Portis. It worked... fine, for the most part; Milwaukee’s vaunted defensive rating dominance dropped from its league-leading heights, but was largely passable. In fact, 2021-2022’s defensive rating of 111.8 (per basketball-reference, good for 14th in the league) was a mere .2 lower than 2020-2021’s 111.6 (10th in the league). There was a reason for feeling okay about the Bucks chances heading into the postseason, after all.
Still, it’s hard for any player to integrate into a starting role after months away, and so we couldn't be quite sure of what to expect from Brook. During the last 14 games of the year (which contained Brook’s 12 late-season appearances), the team DRTG stood at 116.3 with Brook good for a personal on-court DRTG of 111.2 — matched exactly by Bobby Portis over that same span. The offense took a bit of a dive with Lopez on the court during that run, the team ORTG at 117.0 overall and Brook at 109.5 and Bobby at a much strong 116.2. Contained in that stretch are throwaway games, to be sure, but we were still a ways away from Lopez’s 110.2 rating from the 2020-2021 regular season. And, to be fair, his on-court rating improved to a pretty sterling 102.4 in the playoffs.
None of this is to say Lopez is going to show up this coming year and no longer execute at an acceptable level — merely to show that the declines are on their way. Heading into the final year of his current contract, he’s far from finished as a contributor, but with age and possible back trouble creeping within his shadow we may look back on this coming season as the last ride of the best big man pairing this franchise has seen in decades. Here’s hoping Brook has one more year of magic left to give us.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “We are not yet ready for a medal, but we have our chances” & Tyler Dorsey relishing opportunity to play with Giannis Antetokounmpo (Eurohoops)
This whole quote from Giannis after practicing with the Greek National Team is so good, I just want to put it here in its entirety:
“Judging from yesterday’s practice, we are not yet ready for a medal, but we have our chances”, said Giannis while talking to the media on the media day of the Greek national team. “It doesn’t matter what the world expects, it’s what the team expects. In all the competitions I’ve been to with Greece, we didn’t even reach the quarterfinals. We’re not ready for medals or cups. We need to create chemistry and the right atmosphere. Let’s go and do our best. I have realistic goals, I need to get better. We have three weeks to bond. I will adapt to what the national team needs from me and not the opposite. Our coach (Dimitris Itoudis) is doing an amazing job and we have to do the best we can”.
To be totally fair, they’ve only just begun working together as a team, and I’m sure similar things could be said about pretty much every national team preparing for Eurobasket. That doesn’t make the quote any less funny.
I also wonder what it is like for guys like Dorsey or other career non-NBA professionals who have to mesh with the Antetokounmpo’s, the Doncic’s, the Jokic’s of the world. When the USA men’s team gets together, they’re mostly drawn from NBA talent. Some nation’s have more NBA representation than others, but the mishmash of FIBA v. NBA rules, coaching input, and overall structures has to be a pain to hash out.
I’m not sure I’ve seen a better distillation of what Milwaukee Bucks basketball during the Mike Budenholzer era has been like than this:
The Bucks made 53 fewer 3-pointers than the Celtics in their seven-game, conference semifinals series. That was the biggest such differential in a playoff series in NBA history, with the Celtics’ 110 3-pointers being tied for the third most in any playoff series. In the last three regular seasons, the Bucks have allowed 14, 14.8 and 14.5 3s per game, three of the seven highest opponent marks in the 43 years of the 3-point line.
I mean, hell, we got a title in spite of the above fact and we allow it somewhat by design, but it’s still crazy to see the numbers written out like that.
Khris Middleton returns to Charleston to host youth basketball camp (WCSC News) & Former Razorback Bobby Portis gives back to community with charity events (THV 11)
Offseason means local news stations doing the MMMR equivalent of scraping the bottom of the content barrel and running segments of footage with Bobby Portis wearing a purple jersey. I always wonder what these camps are like for the kids since I never played organized basketball myself. If I’m, like, seven years old, its cool that a local guy who made it to the league is here, but what the hell is he going to show me in an afternoon besides the fact that he can eat a Big Mac with a large fry and then swish every jumper for hours straight?
Every summer I remain hopeful that a clip will emerge of a kid crossing over a Buck into the shadow realm, and every summer I come away disappointed.
Bucks Could Be Dark-Horse Trade Suitor For Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl? (Sports Illustrated Spurs Blog (???) Inside the Spurs)
I like the theory of the case behind acquiring Jakob Pöltl (see: my long-winded and ultimately inessential intro to this week’s MMMR). As this blog post indicates, Pöltl at age 27 doesn’t fit exactly to San Antonio’s rebuilding timeline, and he’s in the final year of his current contract. We’ve seen opposing teams run down the clock on the Spurs’s front office before to conduct transaction highway robbery (see: Kawhi Leonard trade), so this might be something worth keeping in mind once the season gets underway. He defends Giannis passably when we play the Spurs which I take as a generally good sign on that end of the floor, even if he can’t shoot at all.
Fan Post of the Week
The Brew Hoop Fan Post staff mirroring the actual Brew Hoop staff’s output this past week.
The Social Media Section
Trust me when I say there’s no finer place to lock in and hone your craft in the summer than Louisville, Kentucky. Your choices are basketball or staring out at the lazing Ohio.
You’re really going to tell me Giannis doesn’t have enough clout to force the Greek federation to include Francis on the roster?
I just want to be Serge
Congrats to the couple! Here’s to a lifetime of shared joy.
Love a clean jersey design
I like the sneakers
S/O to the kid and the cameraperson for the completely unnecessary lens tilt to start the clip
Another week, another seven days with a whole lot of nothing on the horizon. For the audio-starved, we do have a mailbag podcast coming out shortly (it’ll probably publish today), and... it’s all quiet besides that.
So it goes!