Over the last decade, the Chicago Bulls have been one of the elite teams in the NBA, while the Milwaukee Bucks…have not. Since 2005, Chicago has made the playoffs all but one year, accumulating 37 total playoff wins and two division titles.
The Bucks have tallied just four playoff appearances, failing to make it out of the first round and racking up just six postseason wins. Number of division titles? Zero since the 2000-01 season. Since 2005, the Bucks have posted a 14-34 against their rivals to the south, making it clear who has been the more successful team of the two as of late.
In addition to the Bulls’ success, they have endured numerous individual awards, putting them in the NBA spotlight for years. In the last ten years, Chicago has posted one MVP, eight All-Defensive Team awards, one Sixth Man of the Year, one Defensive Player of the Year, and one Rookie of the Year Award. The Bucks most prestigious honor? Brandon Jennings making NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2010.
With the recent addition of lottery pick Jabari Parker and a first-round steal in Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with the re-signing of Khris Middleton, the mantra of the organization has been “Own the Future.” After a 41-41 season and a six seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, expectations became higher this year after adding Greg Monroe and Greivis Vasquez to the roster.
After a slow start to the season and struggling mightily on the road, the Bucks find themselves six games behind the eight spot, chasing none other than the Chicago Bulls. Despite given a less than 1% chance to make the playoffs, the team has shown glimpses of greatness this season posting an 18-12 record at home with wins over both conferences’ best teams (Warriors and Cavaliers).
Conversely, the Bulls have also fallen short of expectations. Picked by most to finish in the top three, the Bulls have struggled, currently sporting a record only one game over .500. An average season so far, Chicago is just 16-20 against teams with a winning record, a complete 180 from last year’s mark of 21-16.
In comparison, the Bucks are still a very young team with six players under the age of 23, which starkly contrasts the Bulls’ roster. With lots of room to grow, patience will be tested among players, staff, and fans. A promising sign since the All-Star Break, the Bucks are just 4-5, but have seen improved production from a lot of their key players, specifically Parker and Giannis. Since the break, Giannis has posted three triple-doubles, while Parker has scored in double figures in every game.
Both the Bulls and the Bucks seem to be getting their younger guys involved more, as Chicago’s most recent draft picks Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis have seen extended minutes as of late. With injuries to Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, McDermott and Portis have been forced to contribute earlier than expected. In the last three games, the duo of Giannis/Parker have been averaging 22.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 2.2 steals in 28.5 minutes. McDermott and Portis in an average of 23 minutes combined per game have put up 8.2 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting just under 40%.
It is clear the Bucks have put in more trust into their younger guys, as they should. If you take out injuries, the Bulls have a roster made for a title run with Rose, Butler, and Gasol all capable of putting up big numbers. However, Gasol is not getting any younger, and if Rose and Butler remain injury-prone, an implosion of the roster could be on its way.
After going winless vs. the Bulls last year in the regular season, the Bucks have split their first two meetings this season. The teams have two match-ups remaining this year, one at each home venue.
Although it might not appear so, the Bucks continue to mold their young roster and build chemistry throughout. Chicago may have the better roster, but Milwaukee has the better future.
Milwaukee and Chicago renew their rivalry at 7:00 pm CT Monday night.