Here we stand only a few days away from opening night in the NBA, and that means it is once again time for Milwaukee Bucks basketball. Expectations are high for the team this year coming off of a deep run into the playoffs last season. We’ve compiled a few questions for our site’s Bucks writers, Jesse McNamar, David Turicek, and myself to answer as we prepare for the NBA season.
What’s your prediction for the Bucks record this season?
David Turicek: 62-20
After having one of their best seasons in franchise history, the Bucks will yet again top 60 wins in pursuit of another top seed in the Eastern Conference. Given that the fundamental players of the rotation have not gone anywhere, aside from Malcom Brogdon, there is no reason that team chemistry would be as much of an issue as it will be for other teams after the remarkable list of trades in free agency. As long as everyone stays healthy for the majority of the season and new players like Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, and Robin Lopez show some signs of their former selves, there is no reason for the Bucks to lose more than 20 games.
Nate Truettner: 56-26
I think the Bucks’ win total this season will be a bit lower than last season while being a more complete team. 60 wins last year seems like a bit of an anomaly, and you’d have to think that Giannis will be rested more often this season. They’ve added bench depth in Robin Lopez, Kyle Korver, and Wesley Matthews, but lost an underrated focal point of the offense in Malcolm Brogdon. I’m pegging the Bucks for 56 wins right now, good enough for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Jesse McNamar: 60-22
Coach Bud, in one season, transformed Milwaukee from a 40-something-win team to a 60-win team. With mostly the same squad returning, I’m expecting an even better team this season. I realize that there will be a lot more load management this season for Giannis and company, but I think that offsets with the improved talent on the roster. The Bucks will find themselves within range of 60 with a couple weeks left in the season and make the push to back-to-back 60-22 regular seasons.
Who will break out this season for the Bucks?
David Turicek: Donte DiVincenzo
After struggling with various foot injuries and only suiting up for 27 games in his 2018-2019 rookie season, Donte DiVincenzo has a lot to prove in his second year on the Bucks. However, in the little amount of time he was able to play, one could not miss the effort and tenacity he laid out in every minute he was able to play. In addition to the glimpses of his shooting talents, it must be noted the way he as a 6’4” point guard wrestled centers for rebounds and played with the intensity any successful player needs. This year, without having to compete with Malcom Brogdon for minutes, I can see DiVincenzo securing a significant amount of paying time and emulating the success he had at Villanova.
Nate Truettner: Donte DiVincenzo
Donte DiVincenzo seems like a prime breakout candidate for Milwaukee. His role last year was greatly impacted by a nagging heel injury but in his limited minutes he was impressive, showing tons of hustle on defense and as a dynamic offensive player. His ability to shoot effectively from long distance obviously plays well for this squad, and I’ll bet that he will see a lot more playing time this season.
Jesse McNamar: Frank Mason III
The obvious and I think the correct choice is Donte, but I’ll make a case for the Bucks’ new point guard Frank Mason II. He’s just 25 years old going into his third year in the league after a two-year stint with Sacramento. He only saw the floor about 16 minutes a game with the Kings and will almost certainly get less in Milwaukee, his per 36 numbers show he could be of value to an already injured point guard position. Mason III averages 16/6/5 for his career per 36 minutes.
Who will be the most disappointing player on the Bucks this season?
David Turicek: Khris Middleton
Despite getting his first All-Star appearance last season, Khris Middleton has quite a bit to prove this season. Given that some fingers were pointed at him following the Bucks’ collapse against the Raptors in the final few games of the Eastern Conference Finals, there will be a lot of pressure on him to perform this season. I certainly believe that he is talented enough to be Giannis’s aid in making a deep playoff push; however, I feel that he needs to be more consistent throughout the season. Every player has rough patches throughout the season, but I feel that Middleton struggled more than he should have last year. Nevertheless, his role in the Bucks’ success is crucial so he will need to perform on a consistent basis.
Nate Truettner: Khris Middleton
Many fans didn’t feel comfortable giving Khris Middleton a max contract. That is understandable. He struggled at times in the postseason and can be a very streaky shooter. He’s arguably in the lower tier of NBA stars but a great second or third option on many teams. However, it was necessary to give him his money to ensure him staying in Milwaukee. Simply based on his contract alone I expect Middleton to disappoint some people this season. Not to say he will be bad, I just don’t think he will be max-contract good.
Jesse McNamar: Sterling Brown
During his rookie season in 2017 and into the beginning of last season, Sterling looked like he was quickly improving as you’d expect any player fresh out of college. But after the All-Star break, he didn’t really look the same. The corner threes that he hit on nearly every attempt he took vanished and his decision making sped up and created more turnovers. His preseason didn’t look any better either, so I expect the once promising guard/forward to be a deep-bench player by the end of the season.