When I expressed interest in answering everyone’s Questions & Antlers, I wasn’t entirely expecting to go after a celebrity. But you can't say no when you can have Melanie Ricks make a guest appearance. So, I will answer your questions as well as possible while staying true to myself.
Thanks for submitting questions sourced from this week’s submission post. Be sure to keep your typing fingers ready for a chance to join in every week when a new post asking for your questions goes live each Tuesday for the rest of the season.
(cracks fingers) Let’s go!
WiscoJoe asks: I think most Bucks fans agree that while Beasley has played very well so far this season, he fits ways better off the bench than as a starter. Do you think Horst had an agreement with him that he’d start if he signed with us, especially considering most people thought he’d get more money than the minimum deal he is playing on?
I have repeatedly voiced that I think Malik Beasley is fine as the fifth starter for Milwaukee. I do understand that Beasley’s shooting compliments Milwaukee’s starters and is a crucial reason for Milwaukee’s potent offense. Though I understand where people are coming from, his shooting and low usage could be helpful as a bench option. Adrian Griffin has faith in Beasley as he has had him in the starting lineup in preseason, but I don’t think there was a set-in-stone agreement that he would start. The Bucks still had players like Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen on the roster he would need to compete with, and Beasley fell out of the Lakers’ rotation for the playoffs, and the LA team declined his team option, so it’s possible some could hold that against him.
stoneAge asks: Kyle, let’s say you are GM for one day (and you try to improve the team externally), how would you improve the roster before the trade deadline, without waiving AJ Green ( ) and trying to improve defense? What player type/position would you target?
What would you do with our two picks in the upcoming draft?
Would you trade any of Khris, Brook, Pat, Bobby this trade deadline or in the off-season?
This is tough, as improving this roster will be a tough ask. The two areas where Milwaukee would need to upgrade to improve the defense would be a wing defender and a backup big. Where do you find a wing defender that is a clear upgrade? The backup big isn’t as tough to upgrade as anyone would be better than Robin Lopez. I don’t think trading Khris or Brook this deadline or in the off-season is realistic. Bobby is an interesting one because he brings a clear value to Milwaukee with his offense and leadership off the court. But his defense is flawed and can be exposed in the postseason. If you can get a clear impact player to bring into the rotation, like OG Anunoby, then yes, a Bobby trade might have to happen. Pat Connaughton would be the player I would shop around the most. His contract can be an excellent piece to use. His injuries are starting to add up, and with the emergence of Andre Jackson Jr, MarJon Beauchamp, and AJ Green, the need for Pat has diminished. Pat has been one of the few Bucks who holds up his end of the bargain come playoff time, but this might be the best time to trade him.
I would keep the two picks for the draft. One of the issues with Adrian Griffin’s system on defense is it relies more on players busting ass and moving quickly. That is not how I would describe most of the Bucks roster now. Adding young athletic pieces would help Milwaukee fit the scheme and restock the asset chest. Griffin has been more willing to give young players a chance, unlike Budenholzer, and Milwaukee needs to prepare for the next phase of the Giannis era as Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and others depart.
Riley Feldmann asks: What will Giannis need to do in order to push himself to the forefront of the MVP campaign? Or is there too much that is outside of his hands to make another MVP run realistic this year (narrative, Dame’s usage, team success, in-built/proper preference for the recent incumbents Embiid/Jokic in the media’s mind)?
I believe the ship has sailed for Giannis winning another MVP; it’s not his fault either. Initially, I thought the arrival of Damian Lillard would be the main reason. Team success hasn’t mattered, as Giannis led Milwaukee to a league-best record last year and still finished third. Joel Embiid still has the raw counting stats people like, even if his postseason failures are not being used against him, while Nikola Jokic is every advanced stat person’s ideal player. I think the NBA media wants Jayson Tatum or Luka Doncic to take that leap, but that hasn’t happened yet. If Giannis wants his third MVP, he will likely need to finish as the league’s top scorer AND a defensive force that we haven’t seen consistently this year.
G May asks: If you didn’t cover the Bucks, what sports team at any level would have liked to cover?
I really like this question to end with. For those who aren't aware, I am a big soccer fan. I watch and follow soccer more than I do with basketball. This includes leagues as large as the Premier League and Bundesliga or minor, like second-division Portuguese or third-division United States. I currently cover USL League One, a third-division league in the United States, via a live show/podcast’ called Walkin' 90. One of the teams in USL League One that I closely follow is Forward Madison FC. This team is in Madison, WI, where I live currently, and I have been involved as a fan since day one, back in 2018. I have done podcasts and writing talking about the team in the past. So, to answer the question, I already cover a sports team and league.
If I had to choose another option, I got into Formula 1 the past few years. Drive to survive, and the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy introduced me to the sport. I have been listening to podcasts and watching qualifying and races. It has me excited about the race weekends until I hear that damn Dutch national anthem at the end. Not many Americans are covering Formula 1, so having that opportunity would be cool. Plus, what if I got to go to Monaco, Vegas, or Silverstone; that would be pretty awesome.
I appreciate everyone asking questions and following along. Add your answer to the questions that were asked. I would love to see everyone’s thoughts and opinions, especially regarding the high ceiling of Andre Jackson Jr.