The Milwaukee Bucks have been a tough team to make predictions for the past two seasons. Two years ago, they were expected to have a losing season, but went .500 to make the playoffs and win two games in a series with the Chicago Bulls. Last year the Bucks were expected to win at least 45 games; however, they had a disappointing season and only won 31. This year, it is just as hard to predict how well they will be because of the young roster and struggles on defense.
This season, the Bucks are keen on bouncing back from a disappointing year and making the playoffs. They are looking to do this behind the play of two youngsters, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, players who started to come into themselves at the end of the last season.
Antetokounmpo is a Greece native who now plays point guard, and Jabari Parker is a forward who like Antetokounmpo saw his game improve greatly midway through the season. For Antetokounmpo, the improvement came after he made the switch from forward to point guard. Since then, he has averaged 17 points and seven rebounds a game while shooting 50 percent. Parker’s success came after he recovered from a torn ACL and from Antetokounmpo’s distribution of the ball. He averaged 14 points with seven rebounds per game while also shooting about 50 percent. Even though they had overall scoring success, both players shot only 25 percent from behind the three point line.
Despite strong offensive showings midway through the last season, the real woes of the team came from the lack of defense. Two seasons ago, the Bucks had one of the best defenses, but last year they ranked 28th in the league. This is in large part because of the additions of Greg Monroe and offensive star Jabari Parker. Monroe was not quick enough to guard teams that distributed the ball well, and more often than not, there was a Bucks player lost in the middle of the floor, which gave the other team a man that was left unguarded and free to take an easy shot. Parker struggled because he played like the a rookie, which he essentially was after missing the majority of the previous season with a knee injury. He was often put in a position which made him the last line of defense and did not have the instincts to shut down the opponent. The Bucks will need to figure out how to get their defense back on track with the pieces they have, otherwise they will be in for another long season.
On the bright side, Antetokounmpo and Parker have performed well in the preseason. They each had over 21 points per game and shot efficiently. Both still are hesitant from the three point line, but they did attempt 4.1 shots per game combined. One of the new additions to the team, Matthew Dellavedova has made a nice impact during the preseason with 10 points and nine assists per game while making 5 of 11 from three the whole preseason. He should be a nice compliment to the rest of the team.
The Milwaukee Bucks certainly have many challenges ahead of them this season and for them to have a chance of making playoffs, many pieces need to fall into place, but it seems they have the potential to get back on the winning track if the defense can improve and Antetokounmpo and Parker can continue to create chances for themselves offensively.