Hi Fellow Bucks Fans,
I assume you're probably about as dejected as I am after witnessing the literal biggest upset in NBA playoff history play out across just 5 games.
I'm trying to console myself by remembering that the Heat were the 1 seed last year, so their 8 seed this year may have been a weird fluke or some odd kind of gamesmanship. Plus, I still believe (though with some doubt now) that we would crush NYK in 5 games and would have about even odds against Philly. I've thought Boston was better than us for most of the year; now I'm kinda glad we never had to play them.
Congrats to Jimmy Butler for playing at an absolutely other-worldly level against a Bucks team that just had no answers for him, and didn't try very hard to find any.
Now that our offseason has started much more abruptly than anybody expected, it is time to start imagining what the next iteration of the Bucks could and should look like. I was really hoping to be able to say "we just won the title, run it back!" But, alas. The title favorite changed in a week to a team that may need to be attacked with several sticks of dynamite and an acceptance of being a non-contender next year.
So, I'm going to take it piece by piece with my thoughts, starting from the top:
I'm not happy to have Haslam aboard, and his addition seems to have had all the ill effects that the most pessimistic person could've predicted. Can he really be blamed for the Bucks losing? Probably unfair, but it seems like everything he touches turns sour.
He did not have a good year. He'll always get credit for re-signing Giannis, which was the biggest win for the franchise in a long time. Since then, the team has gotten continually worse in my opinion.
An offseason of extending Grayson Allen, extending Bobby Portis, extending Jevon Carter, signing Joe Ingles, drafting Marjon Beauchamp, and a season of trading for Jae Crowder does not inspire confidence. He has never drafted a good player, and his moves seem to essentially be "what players are very well known? I'll trade for/sign them, even if they aren't good anymore." The Bucks scouting seems to be completely non-existent, and all we do is acquire veterans who have been in the league for several (if not a lot) of years and so their games are pretty well known to even a casual fan.
Occasionally this works out, like with Pat, and more recently it generally doesn't, like with Ingles. I like Horst, and believe Bucks fans owe him a lot of thanks for establishing a winning culture and helping to bring a title to Milwaukee and retain Giannis, but I would not be upset if we got a GM who actually knows how to find a player who isn't a veteran.
I defended Bud for a long time. He created the Hawks, he turned the culture around in Milwaukee, helped Giannis develop into an MVP superstar, and won a title for the Bucks. He's a Hall of Famer that should have a statue outside of Fiserv. And he should be fired.
He proved this playoffs that the harshest critics of his inability to make adjustments and manage a game were underselling it; the guy just can't respond when faced with challenging situations and is clearly not the level of coach needed to keep the Bucks in title contention. The Bucks need to move on.
He's got clear strengths as a coach, and a team like Charlotte or Detroit or even San Antonio if Pop leaves would be foolish to not hire him to create a winning environment. However, I'm ready for a change to a coach who knows how to establish an offensive system, make changes on defense, teach basketball IQ, and manage in-game adjustments and timeouts.
Prayers for him and his family after losing his brother. I can't imagine how crushing that would be. This may be reason enough to not fire him; I think I still would, but I am hesitant. At the end of the day though, if the tragedy affected his focus and decision-making, he should've taken the games off.
I may make a longer fanpost about replacements, but some I'd have my eye on would be: Chris Quinn, Kenny Atkinson, Becky Hammon, and Charles Lee. It's a shame Quin Snyder and Ime Udoka already got hired.
This is the first year of his career that Giannis wasn't better than he was the year before. In fact, I hate to say it, but I think he was distinctly worse. From the free throw shooting, to jump shooting, to getting figured out in the paint...I think Giannis needs to have a big offseason to still be in the conversation as best player in the league by the end of next year. I also think his defense was worse this postseason, though perhaps that's due to the injury. He's also becoming a guy with big injury concerns though.
His playoff performance was atrocious. Game 5 was one of the worst games I've ever seen a superstar play, which is saying something given he did score a lot of points. Decision-making, being afraid of the moment, afraid to shoot....I was honestly hoping he'd foul out in the fourth at times. Every team in the league knows that fouling Giannis to prevent a basket is a good play, and he made 3 shots outside of the paint against Miami. 3! Walling him off and taking sliding charges is all too effective and as much as I hate to say it, Giannis has no bag (or at times I think he does have the bag, he just never goes to it and prefers battering ram).
As Giannis approaches 30 the injuries pile up, I also worry about how his game will age. He's basically a big Russell Westbrook, except better and smarter. However, as his athleticism wanes, will his effectiveness fall off hard? If he can't get better as a shooter, he needs to improve other elements of his game.
The one positive I'd point to is his passing in Game 4 against Miami. It was really good; if he can do more of that consistently, that's a huge element to add to his game and reduce the need to batter in 30 points a game.
Obviously, players don't get better than Giannis off the court. He's the best role model and franchise pillar a team or fan could ever hope for. We're building around him no matter what.
Injuries, age, and lack of athleticism are a concern as Khris moves further into his 30's. What will and should we do with him? I am really unsure.
Khris is just as good as ever as a shooter in my opinion. He's one of the best midrange guys in the league, and shot 41% from 3 against Miami. He's also a good passer. Turnovers and Really sloppy ballhandling continue to be concerns, and I think his defense is slipping (though I think it slightly improved as the series went on).
Overall, I still think Khris is a great fit with Giannis and a star player, but I am not sure he's worth a max contract and I think he's only getting worse from here.
I am done. I think. Jrue is obviously a fantastic person; great dad, great teammate, one of the best role models in the league. He's also one of the best guard defenders in the league and had a standout regular season offensively.
With that said, he yet again collapsed in the playoffs. He's been a worse shooter than Eric Bledsoe in the postseason, and that's really saying something. His defense is sometimes huge, but against Butler this series, he got completely punked. Despite that, he kept trying to take the Jimmy matchup, even waving off Wes, who was actually able to defend Jimmy. He even allowed Jimmy's trash talk to bait him into taking bad shots. I also can't forget that he missed a free throw at the end of game 5, which would've put us up by one more very helpful point (that's obviously a ton of pressure, and one small thing, but still). He's also on the wrong side of 30.
Is the postseason collapse a fluke? At this point, I would have to say no, it is just who Jrue is unfortunately. My one caveat is that I wonder whether a different coach and different offensive system would help Jrue get easier shots in the playoffs. His defense is good, but in my opinion, he should really only defend guards and small wings, not bigger wings like Butler, Tatum, Durant, etc.
I'd shop him this offseason and try to trade him for someone who is younger and more dynamic. I would consider trading him for 1st round picks too. If we bring him back next year, it has to be in a reduced role on offense. I don't love the idea I've seen people saying that he should move to SG; did you see his shooting?
What can you say besides wow. Brook continues to play at an extremely high level, despite being in his mid-30's and having a big back injury last year. I expected this season to be the first year of Brook falling into backup level territory, but instead, he may have even gotten better (in the role he plays for us). He was arguably our second best player in the postseason, or at least third best.
With that said, Brook is extremely limited. He is great at the role we ask him to play (drop defense), but can do almost nothing else effectively on defense. That style, unfortunately, is one of the biggest flaws with our postseason defense that most teams know exactly how to exploit, and feel Very comfortable doing. To be fair, Brook is critical part of good rebounding.
He is very good as a scorer; it's really hard to say anything negative about Brook on offense, but he is not a good passer.
Like Khris, I have a hard time deciding what to do with Brook. I'd really love to keep him in my heart, but my head says that it is time to move Giannis to center and have a forward space the floor, rather than having a center space the floor.
I said at the beginning of the season that the sooner we can get Grayson off the team, the better. I think I've been justified in that. He shot Extremely well from 3 against Miami, which makes it frustrating to me that he averaged less than 6 attempts per game in 30 minutes. Honestly, he's basically a lower volume Duncan Robinson, and they played similarly this postseason imo.
My issue with Grayson is that he is a fairly bad defender and nearly worthless at anything except shooting 3's. He inspires confidence in the opponent when they're on offense in my opinion, and he doesn't rebound much at all.
He also completely inexcusably didn't even Take a last second shot, which could've completely changed game 5. Should he have been the one taking it? Ideally not, but he's a basketball player starting for an NBA championship-hopeful team isn't he? A Shooting Guard? I don't understand why he gets such a pass from so many people.
I want him gone, or at least moved to the bench as the backup SG who plays 18 or fewer minutes/game in the postseason. What we did last year with Wes sliding into the starting spot was perfect.
Rough regular season, but Pat delivered in the playoffs. He shot unbelievably well from 3, and it is a travesty that Bud played him so little (weird too, since Bud usually loves Pat). He's completely erratic on defense; one possession he'll make a huge steal, the next he'll forget to guard Duncan Robinson. However, he's also huge on the boards (5 rebounds/game compared to 2.4 for Grayson, despite Grayson playing 8 more minutes/game).
He also somehow had a 146 offensive rating for the series (126 for Grayson) and a 116 defensive rating (123 for Grayson).
I don't like either Pat or Grayson at small forward, and I'd prefer neither as a starter, so I'd like to only have one of them. The choice is obvious to me.
What we can be except what an unbelievable disappointment. Wait, actually it is pretty believable since Bobby routinely comes up small in the postseason. He's hot or cold, and most of the time against tough matchups, it's cold. That's what happens when you are a big who can't defend, protect the rim, or pass. He's basically a 3pt shooting specialist and good rebounder, so when the shot isn't there, it's rough.
I have never been enamored with Bobby's game, and I am definitely not now. He's fine as a backup, and his contract isn't bad, but if he's going to regularly be a no show in playoff matchups (Brooklyn two years ago, Atlanta two years ago, Boston last year, Miami this year)...I'd rather just move on and get somebody who can be useful.
He's a fun guy to have on a team, and works really hard. He's an 82 game player who shouldn't see the court in a playoff series.
What a disappointing postseason from a guy I thought would be a major addition. He looks like he can't really move anymore, so he's basically just Grayson Allen with better handles/passing. He did shoot 50% from 3 in the series, which is remarkable, and makes it astounding that we couldn't figure out how to get a 50% shooter who also passes well more engaged in a role that could hide his deficiencies. I think though that unless our training staff can work wonders with him over the offseason, he's probably toast and doesn't belong in the playoffs at this point.
My worry is that Khris is a few years away from being what Ingles is now. But, Ingles was never the tough shot shooter that Khris is now.
Somehow, an even bigger disappointment than Ingles. What the heck happened there? We trade 5 second round picks for him, and he can't even see the court? And when he does, he looks like he's just learning what a basketball is. I was somewhat excited about the addition (not as much as Ingles, bc Crowder has been so up and down over his career and isn't the tough guy he pretends to be in my opinion, but still), but he was just a total flop.
Can we risk re-signing him, when he might be a total washout? He and Ingles really may need to book a flight together to China. Ingles as the backup SF and Crowder as the backup PF would've sounded crazy exciting last year. Now? Yikes.
What a legend. Comes in after being injured and puts the clamps on Jimmy. I mean, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but he defended Jimmy Far more effectively then Jrue Holiday, supposed best wing defender in the league did. He also shot 57% from 3.
Brief sidebar: it is remarkable how well our role players (except Bobby) shot from 3 this series, and we still got trounced). I guess Jrue missing 6 three's per game really didn't help.
It is a shame that Wes is going to be 37 next season, and was injured despite barely playing this season. He is our best role playing 3&D player in my opinion, since despite that being the archtype of almost all our role players, he's the only one who is good at both shooting 3's and playing defense right now (only player on our entire team who is good at both actually, besides Brook).
What was the point of signing him if he isn't even going to play in a series when we desperately needed ballhandling and clutch play? I guess it was because we bought into our championship odds hype and wanted to give the guy a ride on our coattails? Did he sell our gameplans to his former team? Certainly didn't help us gameplan against Miami. No way he's on the team next year I hope.
I wasn't really excited about the pick, but I don't know much about the draft and he was an extreme unknown, even for draft nerds. He predictably was a non-factor, but maybe will develop. I would trade him if some other team likes him and wants us to package him though.
Definitely want him back as a backup big center for $3 million a year. He can space the floor and play drop; perfect guy to rest Brook. I also like that we didn't use him in the postseason.
I have no real idea why people like or care about him. Can he be Duncan Robinson? He is a good 3pt shooter and is white, but one of the things that makes Duncan who he is is that he's 6'7. Green to me is just a backup 3pt specialist at best. If we have him on a minimum contract, fine; if not, I don't care.
I'd really love it if we stopped wasting this roster spot, especially since we waste so many other roster spots, but this probably isn't changing.
I know they are highly respected and widely considered one of the best in the league, and maybe they are. But we seem to have an awful lot of big injuries over the last few years, including every playoffs that I can remember with this group.
Just as a general thought, I'm becoming part of the crowd that thinks all the resting in the NBA now is hurting players. Their bodies aren't ready for the grind, so when they do ramp up the minutes in big games, it can't respond well.
Alright, those are my thoughts. We have far more trouble spots than solutions, and very limited flexibility and no draft picks that matter this year. Better hope MarJon goes from mediocre role player to star, right?
I don't have any real plans in place for improving or changing the team. Run it back with a new coach seems fairly appealing given how limited we are, but I'd love to hear your plans for blowing it up, or your argument for keeping it together.
Thanks for reading!