2015-16 NBA Record: 33-49
Additions: Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers), Jason Terry (Houston Rockets), Mirza Teletovic (Phoenix Suns), Michael Beasley (traded from Houston Rockets), Thon Maker (draft), Malcolm Brogdon (draft)
Subtractions: O.J. Mayo (suspended)
Projected Starting Line-up
PG – Matthew Dellavedova
SG – Rashad Vaughan
SF – Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF – Jabari Parker
C – Miles Plumlee
Out of all the starting lineups, the Bucks may have the toughest rotation to try and figure out. The injury to Khris Middleton has left coach Jason Kidd trying to experiment different combinations in the backcourt, with Kidd saying he is willing to start either Rashad Vaughan or rookie Malcolm Brogdon. Kidd has also expressed his interest in starting Miles Plumlee at center, which means both Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams could be coming off the bench to start the year.
The Bucks failed to exceed expectations last season after going out and signing Greg Monroe. This offseason, they’ve added more shooters, something they lacked last year, with the additions of Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic and Jason Terry. They also traded for Michael Beasley after Khris Middleton suffered a torn hamstring and is out for 6 months. The loss of their top scorer means that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker will have to take another big step up this season. The Bucks also drafted Thon Maker, who will be added to the long wingspan club that’s located in Milwaukee. Maker is an intriguing prospect and showed some skills during the Summer League, but will have to bulk up in order to compete with the big men of today’s NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo grew into a star as he finished strongly to end the season, putting up a couple of triple-doubles and he’ll look to continue that momentum this season. His playmaking ability, along with his versatility and athleticism will be something to watch and we may see Jason Kidd play the Greek Freak at point guard during the year. Antetokounmpo is also exciting to watch on defense, with his long wingspan assisting him in steals and blocks, averaging 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals in 2015-16. Jabari Parker also had a strong end to the season, averaging 18.8 points over his last 29 games, shooting over 50% on the floor. He’s still a star of the future, but needs to slim down and also step up as a young leader. The aim of this season will be to get Parker to reach his full potential and he can definitely put up 20+ points a night. Greg Monroe may come off the bench to start the year as he’s still trying to get used to the Bucks’ offense and he was also a defensive liability for Milwaukee last season. That means Miles Plumlee, who’s a better defensive fit than Monroe, and also a solid rebounder, may get the start. The addition of Matthew Dellavedova will help fix two of the Bucks’ problems and he’s just come off an NBA championship ring, but we’ll how Delly goes on a team without LeBron James or Kyrie Irving. John Henson is an unheralded shot-blocker off the bench, averaging 1.9 blocks in just 16.8 minutes of action last year.
In a division containing the Cavaliers, Bulls, Pistons and Pacers, it’ll be tough to see the Bucks finishing ahead of these teams, although all five teams from the Central Division could make the playoffs. They’re a young side who have shown efficiency on offense (5th in field goal percentage) and also shown great ball movement (9th in team assists), but last season their biggest problems involved rebounding (27th in rebounding), defense (23rd in points allowed per game) and shooting (21st in three-point shooting). The front office fixed the latter problem by signing a number of shooters in the offseason, while having Greg Monroe come off the bench, as well as the addition of Matthew Dellavedova could help the defensive situation. However, the loss of one of their young stars in Khris Middleton has already put this team on the backfoot and although they’ll be exciting to watch, I’ve got them as the cellar-dwellers of the Central Division. However, don’t count this team out as a playoff contender nonetheless.
Prediction: 5th in Central Division