The Milwaukee Bucks have their most dynamic pairing since their earliest days and the heyday of the 1980s (in theory).
Giannis Antetokounmpo no longer need primarily concern himself with being the only viable option to create scoring out of nothing (in theory).
Damian Lillard will have more space to slice and dice defenses apart, from range, in the paint, and by feeding teammates who get open looks by his very presence (in theory).
Adrian Griffin can essentially roll the ball out there, tell his players to “play random”, and the Bucks will cash in a near-league-leading offense without any further work (in theory).
In the black and white of digital ink and analysis, everything makes perfect sense. It’s why so many have been very optimistic since the acquisition of Damian Lillard. But, with preseason finished, the reality of the project ahead has finally set in. Of course, nothing was going to be automatic (hyperbole is the columnist’s trade), but after a few exhibition games it is clear there is work to be done.
Part of that work is simple repetition. The act of doing the same thing over and over and over again with the same cast so that your movement and thought sync together. That is why 82 games is a blessing for contenders needing time to find the right fit. But we’ve also borne witness to the fact that having the talent comfortably playing together is only half the battle.
Once you’ve got the basics down, the next dimension of strategic thought needs to be introduced. It is on this point — and the ability to keep the locker room on-side — that will make or break Adrian Griffin, especially with the departure of lead assistant/presumed offensive guru Terry Stotts last week. The stakes for him, personally, couldn’t be higher, with over a decade of assistant coaching time served and numerous job openings lost to other applicants. Can he withstand the pressures of being the figurehead? If the offense is pedestrian at times, can he unstick it? He’s got the players to do just that.
There remains much to be excited about, but for now we’re still in the theory portion of the year. Making our prognostication into reality lies ahead starting this Thursday. Until then, it’s all pretty thoughts and ideal visions.
Milwaukee Bucks Links
You can skip to roughly the one hour, eight minute mark to hear the Bucks preview with BH alum Eric Nehm. His portion is about 40 minutes long and runs the gamut of changes that are incoming for the Bucks, from the defense to the ways Giannis could end up changing his play now that he’s got a running mate like Damian Lillard.
Don’t crown the Milwaukee Bucks NBA champs just yet (the corpse of Deadspin)
You needn't take Deadspin’s opinions on much of anything all that seriously (their Bucks pieces have included basic factual errors ever since the Exodus of the original staff years ago), but their spotlighting an anonymous scout saying the Bucks will “struggle” playing the Detroits and Indianas of the world is hilarious. I mean, they might be right, but what are the odds either of those teams dig their way out of play-in contention at best, and that the Bucks will gun for a high enough seed that they could get trounced by a scrappy low seed?
If there is any team that will capably stop the Bucks, it is the Milwaukee Bucks (and Boston... maybe).
As Lowe says, this is the first time the Bucks have won this arbitrary ranking award ever. Not even the first Jrue Holiday year was enough to get them the top ranking, and that was a team with interesting dynamics and a renewed sense of what was possible. Given the Terry Stotts fireworks last week, the Bucks should get a boost in terms of off-court drama leading to endless on-court body language dissection which adds a neat fold to things. They’ll be must-watch TV whether they’re succeeding or flailing — not often we’ve gotten to say that!
One Defining Number for Every NBA Team (The Ringer)
Unsurprisingly, the number here has to do with points per possession generated in pick and roll sets. Lillard registered a 1.16 PPP off P&Rs with Drew Eubanks a season ago, second in the league to Luka Doncic. Giannis will need to buy in to the somewhat radical changes to his approach every possession for things to gel as well as we expect them to on paper. Can he do it? It’ll be one of the largest tests of his career.
Ranking all 30 NBA offenses (CBS Sports)
Like every other link today, it all boils down to a series of unknowable what if questions for the Bucks. If every idiot online knows the P&R is coming, is it feasible to think there may be a coach or two with the right ideas and personnel to at least keep it nominally in check? And what if head coach Adrian Griffin isn’t particularly interested in spamming P&Rs in his offensive system? That which is the, “obviously right thing to do” doesn’t always translate that what is actually done.
Fan Post of the Week
I’m belatedly realizing that I forgot to hand out a FPOTW award during the previous edition of the MMMR. Then I had a sigh of relief when I noticed that the last Fan Post was put up on October 7th, was about a Fantasy league, and had plenty of engagement already. So, the hardware goes back to the Tumbleweed Collective:
Know Your NBA Enemy
- Another season, another year of having almost completely negative expectations for the Philadelphia 76ers, another nine months for Joel Embiid to carry the world’s largest persecution complex. James Harden is off to a strong start torpedoing his current employer, although Sixers fans appear confident that their franchise will prove capable of waiting him out where other teams failed. Good luck with that. Also, friend of the team Javonte Smart signed a two-way contract.
- A shame, in a vacuum, that Quin Snyder ended up getting the keys to the whole castle down in Atlanta last year as he’d have been at the top of the list to replace Mike Budenholzer. The changes he is implementing to their offense have been substantial enough to be tracked statistically even in preseason, and maybe only a coach of his reputation would be capable of forcing Trae Young and Dejounte Murray into roles more beneficial to team success.
The Social Media Section
Keep cooking, rookies
Bobby Portis said, “eff the noise, we ball.”
Huge red flag that MarJon replied to this in the comments calling Beasley, “Big bro”
Speaking of our resident holy child
If by Τρέλα Giannis means the strange coaching staff dramatics, then yes, Τρέλα
Bear witness to the last real in-game minutes Thanasis will play until late in the season when we’re running seven guys total to give playoff rotation players rest
The last Buck to post poetry on their Instagram? DJ Wilson (probably (maybe))
Riley’s 2023-2024 Regular Season Prediction Record: 0-0
Milwaukee Bucks 2023-2024 Actual Regular Season Record: 0-0
The return of basketball that counts also means the return of my detached-from-science weekly win/loss predictions. With a new head coach and a new (unproven) outlook on basketball life, I feel like I’ve got a shot of hanging with the team this year. Let’s find out!
Milwaukee’s 2023-2024 season begins this Thursday hosting the Philadelphia 76ers, then the week closes with another home match-up, this time versus the Atlanta Hawks. That 76ers game is one of the only two the NBA is playing that night, so all eyes will be on the new-look Bucks!
I’m going to put my faith in the team to start and say they begin the season strong at home. A three game home stand to open the year is a good omen, and they’ll take the first two in stride accordingly.
Congrats on making it through the long offseason! Basketball is back!