In my years paying mildly close attention to Milwaukee Bucks media days, I have to say Sunday’s proceedings might’ve provided the most actual “news” I can recall. To run through it all, in order of importance:
- Jordan Nwora re-signed on a 2-year, $6.2M deal
- Khris Middleton is no longer wearing a cast after offseason wrist surgery, although it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be ready for start of the season
- Joe Ingles probably won’t be on the court till January
- George Hill didn’t undergo offseason surgery for his neck issues
- Bud had ankle replacement surgery and may be scooting around on the sidelines
- Chick-Fil-A is leaning all the way into Giannis
Media days sometimes feels like that Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, when you catch up with friends coming home from all over. There’s never all that many revelations, but familiar faces and jokes are enough to give you the warm and fuzzies. One year removed from a media days that came off a title, the title of this year’s media days was “Much ado about continuity.”
To their credit, both Mike Budenholzer and Jon Horst impressed upon people the difficulty in retaining a roster to the degree they did. And they’re right, teams obviously do want players from teams that are winning. In that respect, it’s easy to overlook the offseason as just “running it back,” but they deserve credit for building a franchise that players genuinely want to play for. Bud even mentioned how this may be the most returning players he’s ever seen in his 30-odd coaching career.
Jrue Holiday, on returning much of the same roster:— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) September 25, 2022
It's real comfortable. Having everybody back sort of puts us ahead.
The players spoke about the comfort that comes with so little turnover, something that should hopefully aid them to kick the season off and bank early wins. Betting on continuity and culture is worthwhile, particularly for a team that has a history of internal improvement from older players. If anything stood out to me from the day though, it was really the different approaches to reflecting on the postseason loss against Boston. We’ve spent so much of the offseason handwringing over what adjustments could’ve been made, opportunities lost, writing different histories with a healthy Middleton. Internally, comments from players and coaches proved illuminating into their personal basketball perspective.
During Bud’s time on the podium, he mentioned that you always study the impetus for why you’re ousted in the Playoffs, but also seemed to indicate you have to keep a larger perspective too. To illustrate that point, on Grayson Allen specifically, he discussed how there were probably plays he would want back from that series, but he felt he crushed year one with the Bucks and can’t wait to put him back in that situation.
Bobby Portis viewed the Boston series as fuel for his endless fire and a helpful exercise in constructive feedback.
Bobby: "The Celtics series was what I needed to take the next step in my career. I worked a lot in the offseason. I'm ready now. It really woke me up a little bit and made me go back to the drawing board and watch film a lot"— Justin García (@tmjgarcia) September 25, 2022
Started to ask Bobby Portis about getting run off the 3-point line against the Celtics and how he might try to adjust. Portis cut me off.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) September 25, 2022
"I'm ready now."
Portis said he wanted to thank the Celtics for doing that against him and showing how he needed to improve.
George Hill recognized what he went through to even be on the court for the series, but also acknowledged his shortcomings.
Hill: "Thought about (retirement). Thought about it hard."— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) September 25, 2022
But Hill said as a competitor, he didn't want to go out like that.
"I do owe the city a better George than last year." https://t.co/5pyUKLilPR
Giannis saw someone else atop the basketball world and wants to get Milwaukee back there.
"There's something to desperation (before your first championship) but I haven't lost it. I'm blessed to be in this spot and I'm not going to take it for granted. I want to win a championship. I kind of got jealous of seeing Golden State's parade. You know that feeling"— Justin García (@tmjgarcia) September 25, 2022
Jrue Holiday said he didn’t even think about the Celtics series when it was over, an insight that illustrates how he can keep shooting in clutch situations, even if he just hit the side of the backboard.
There really wasn’t all that much to discuss beyond the offseason giving the paltry amount of turnover. Joe Ingles potential as a playmaker was certainly one of the most oft-mentioned x’s and o’s points throughout the day. MarJon Beauchamp’s defensive ability and athleticism and Sandro Mamukelashvili’s possibility to contribute in year two were really the only other new pieces worth discussing.
Beyond that, when almost an entire roster returns, reflection is inevitable. “What might’ve been” is fun for us as fans, tiding us over in the August doldrums. But each and every individual is obviously entering this season with some higher level of motivation than they had before last year. How that motivation manifested itself may differ, but across the board everyone seems ready for another run at the Larry O’Brien.
We’re beyond fortunate to have a team that’s reached the level where it’s harder and harder to care about regular season accolades. With so much focus on the Playoffs, it’s easy to get lost in the monotony of 82 games. But Bucks season is here, and our team has a player who will likely go down as one of the top-20 greatest ever. Enjoying Giannis night in and night out is a pleasure that makes it much easier to enjoy those mid-February drubbings against a tanking team. So as we get underway, if you find yourself ever struggling to get through this regular season to reach the playoffs, I have an appropriate podium platitude for you: one game at a time.