Looking on from the outside, we continue to have no clue what Adrian Griffin, Terry Stotts, or Thanasis Antetokounmpo are saying to Giannis Antetokounmpo to level set how he will be used this coming season. We can hedge bets in two directions: One being a world where Giannis dials things back when it comes to incomprehensible threes and dial-up creation; the other being that Giannis is just going to kind of do what he wants (i.e. score a boatload). Your guess is even better than mine when it comes to defense.
In the end, whatever version of Giannis we see this fall/winter, it all comes back to Khris Middleton, right? He remains, busted-up legs and all, the most viable second-order guy on the roster when it comes to scoring or helping others score. The core idea to the Giannis-Khris pairing is that Giannis creates the gaps on the floor by simply being and Khris is to be there to take advantage accordingly.
So could “fixing” the Bucks (and in particular, the postseason Bucks) really truly come down to getting that pairing back online?
Yes. Probably. Maybe?
Of course, I’m being blatantly reductive to make a point—Brook Lopez enables the defense, Grayson Allen plays, Jrue Holiday is a roller coaster both good and bad, and you need a bench. But I feel we cannot stress enough just how much of the team’s fortunes rest on the ability to score of literally two players. On this roster as on so many in the past, they are the only two that come closest to being reliable. And so the whole edifice rests on them.
Not that that is a sexy idea or revolutionary by any means, but given how little we saw of Khris last year (besides a buttload of scoring in the series against the Heat), it is easy to discount the power of that pairing with supporting casts that come and go. Khris goes out in the 2022 playoffs and the team crashes out. Giannis misses two games in 2023 and the team crashes out. The two of them are together in 2021 and the team somehow gets some hardware by the skin of their teeth (thanks, Atlanta!).
It is upon that rock that another title will or won’t happen. The margin for error is almost nonexistent if Giannis and Khris are unavailable for any amount of time at all. Structural weaknesses of the roster demand nothing less than a close-to-perfect bill of health for both by the post-season. Godspeed, Suki.
Milwaukee Bucks 2023-24 Outlook with Frank Madden (Dunc’d On Podcast)
Very rare is the day I fire up Dunc’d On, but the annual series where Nate Duncan has local experts on to preview their teams’ coming seasons is always very informative. Helps that Frank is an ambassador who has done the Bucks edition of the podcast for a number of years now. An hour-plus of analysis between informed interlocutors with differing positions on where the team is worth a listen.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s forever threat (Good Morning, It’s Basketball) & It’s time to dismantle the Bucks (TrueHoop) & Could Giannis actually leave the Bucks after 2024-25 season? (Ball Don’t Lie)
I’m starting to wonder if Giannis didn’t give those quotes about the necessity of winning another title just to help keep nascent basketblog media outlets afloat. Thus, the bevy of articles above from outside voices expressing anything from bemusement to resignation to outright calls to blow this dang thing up while the blowing up is good.
I must respectfully disagree with David Thorpe of David Thorpe Industries on the point about trading Giannis. I’ve long been committed to the idea of going down with the ship, even if reduces any theoretical “return” on a Giannis trade. Once Giannis leaves the franchise is almost inevitably bound for the Dark Ages, Part Two, so if they’re going out, go out in a blaze of idiotic glory. Easy for me to say from my couch, of course.
Bucks Sign, Waive Iverson Molinar (Hoops Rumors)
Another day, another player signed and waived in a short period of time to get him a little extra cash. Molinar already spent last season with the Herd so this isn’t about G-League rights per se, but the bonus gotten for signing an Exhibit 10 deal. If Jon Horst can use Exhibit 10 deals to secure a couple of interesting prospects for the Herd, I say let it rip.
2023 NBA offseason grades (CBS Sports)
B+ for those who want to save themselves a click. Likely the right grade from an objective point of view and reflecting that the team is still very very good on paper. Adrian Griffin remains the biggest wildcard—both positively and negatively.
Ranking Every NBA Team By Future Draft Assets (Bleacher Report)
27th out of 30 isn’t great, but it isn’t dead last either. Horst & Co. have a grand total of three first-round picks between now and 2030 (2028, 2029, and 2030) and two second-round picks as walking around money. Could be worse, though. They could be the Timberwolves.
Back together again and it certainly feels like something. Bally Sports Wisconsin will get 72 regular season games to broadcast (some in conjunction with National TV appearances for the Bucks such as on NBATV). The combo of Lisa Byington, Marques Johnson, and Steve Novak (lol) comes back for another season with the newbie being Melanie Ricks as the sideline reporter. Good luck to all involved with the broadcasts!
Fan Post of the Week
The Social Media Section
These are always extremely endearing, and I also laugh every time I watch it and think of one of you commenting about how ownership is making Bobby get a second job to cover his bills lol
Another week, another brand endorsement from a company you’ve almost likely never heard of before and will never hear of again
Calling the first in a series of vlogs about your summer workout routine “Holy Child Ep. 1” is one of the choices of all time
Get that egg money, Jrue
Praying this means Jae re-learned how to play defense on a basketball court
Not this dude back to “fix” one of the Buck’s jumpers
I’m about to engage my “Giannis in Game 6 of the Finals” gear to show these companies what’s what
BREAKING: The NBA, NFL, and UFC are planning to rewrite DMCA laws in order to shut down illegal livestreams “instantaneously”, per @verge.— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) August 29, 2023
The sports industry reportedly loses up to $28 billion in potential annual revenue due to illegal streams. pic.twitter.com/2LXX7xsdPK
Unfortunately for our Greek contingent, the Greek national team has fallen out of World Cup contention with defeats to Lithuania and Montenegro in the second round of group-stage games. Team USA got pantsed by the Lithuanians 110-104, but finished high enough in the group to advance to the final bracket/quarterfinals. They’ll face Italy on Tuesday with a 7:40 AM (CT) start time. From here on out, it is win or go home.
Regardless, the US has qualified for the 2024 Summer Olympics by dint of being one of the two remaining teams from the Americas in the bracket (Canada being the other). Greece will now have to go through the gauntlet of pre-Olympic qualifying to salvage a chance to play in Paris next summer.