After months of waiting, real NBA basketball will finally be played as a preseason contest between the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls. It was a much different off-season for the Bucks compared to 2022, as Milwaukee fired former head coach Mike Budenholzer and replaced him with former Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin. The roster saw massive changes as well, with Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen being shipped out for All-NBA guard Damian Lillard. Everyone had expected Lillard to be heading to South Beach and the Miami Heat when he made his request back at the start of the summer, yet here we are, with Lillard in Milwaukee.
While it won’t count for anything, it will be exciting to see how the Bucks will look with Damian Lillard for the first time in their uniform. I am also intrigued to see how Adrian Griffin will be in his first game as a head coach against NBA competition and to get insight into his coaching style.
Where We’re At
Outside of Lillard, the Bucks were able to retain Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez while also adding valuable veterans in Malik Beasley and Cam Payne to round out the rotation. GM Jon Horst also decided to hang on to veteran wing Jae Crowder, despite his limited playing time with the team during the stretch run. Through the draft, the Bucks were able to bring in forward Andre Jackson Jr. from the National Champion UConn Huskies and forward Chris Livingston from Kentucky. MarJon Beauchamp had a roller coaster of a summer league and it should be interesting where he slots in the rotation for year two. Which of these names will play today isn’t yet known, but it seems that everyone has been able to practice fully lately.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are trying to run it back one more time with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic, but with some tweaks to hopefully retool their roster. Former Bucks Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig signed with the Bulls in free agency to hopefully add some much-needed three-point shooting and pace to complement the three All-Stars. They will once again be without guard Lonzo Ball, who is still trying to recover from his numerous knee injuries and surgeries. Outside of that, it’s much of the same roster that scraped by the Raptors in the play-in. It should be interesting to see if some of the changes Billy Donovan wants to make will play out with some of the new pieces. Time will only tell.
Player To Watch
Andre Jackson Jr. will be someone who could be an important piece down the line. If Crowder regresses even further than he did last year, Jackson could provide some much-needed perimeter defense, especially with the loss of Holiday. It should be interesting to see how his three-point shot actually looks if given the opportunity to shoot one.
As for the Bulls, I am excited to see what Coby White looks like in his fifth season out of North Carolina. His three-point shooting and ability to handle the ball will make life difficult for some of the Bucks guards to handle. In his last game against Milwaukee, White had fourteen points and six rebounds in a 105-92 loss.
(Editor’s note: as usual for the preseason, the preview will double as our game thread.)
Preseason Game 1: Against the Bulls, the Bucks will...
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