Fear the Deer! These guys may have been about 10 places lower last season but there is a fun youth movement suddenly going on in Milwaukee.
Despite the Philadelphia 76ers narrowly failing to make history by tying a league-high 26 game losing streak (the team they tied? 2010’s Lebron-scorned Cavs), the Bucks still managed to come up with the worst record in the league at 15-67. Then in a bizarre turn of events, the Cavs managed to wrest away the top pick in the draft, laughing at the statisticians who had given them a 1.7% chance of doing so. With three number 1 selections in four years, its clear someone’s gotta be heating up those Cavalier ping pong balls.
Didn’t matter though, as Milwaukee and 2nd round selection Jabari Parker both got what they wanted. Parker has been touted as the most NBA-ready prospect in this year’s draft, with frequent comparisons to our very own Carmelo Anthony. Parker was always going to go in the top 3, but looked genuinely unimpressed with Cleveland and wanted a basketball situation where he would be one of the more focal points in the offense. I gotta say its nice when a team and player get on the same page. Doesn’t always happen.
The Bucks also proved to be the real winner of last year’s draft as well, selecting Greek SF Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick. Antetokounmpo was quickly nicknamed the “Greek Freak” because of his extraordinary length and wingspan. (sheeesh) Antetokounmpo demonstrated crazy upside potential last season; he is improving both as a shooter and in defensive rotations, and can cover the distance from the three point line to jamming the basketball in two gigantic strides. What’s more is that Antetokounmpo is apparently still growing, and now the Bucks organization is salivating at the idea of working on his ballhandling and turning him into some kind of super gangly point-forward. When you think about how underwhelming last year’s draft was and how few of the rookies project to be All-Stars, there are probably about 14 teams kicking themselves right now for not taking a flyer on this guy.
Other than that, the Bucks have a surprisingly deep frontcourt for such a crap team. Larry Sanders will be returning this year after sitting out most of the season from various injuries and bar fights. Sanders is extremely long and lanky and one of the few players in the association outside of Anthony Davis who can challenge Serge Ibaka in blocks per game. There is also the stretch forward Ersan Ilyasova, the rocky Zaza Pachulia, and the underrated and improving John Henson and Khris Middleton. With Parker set to spend some time at the 4, expect at least one of these guys out the door at some point during the season. Hopefully to net the Bucks some more outside shooting.
Its tempting to see how much talent this team has at each position and say they might be one of the surprise teams of the East, but I don’t see these guys improving on last year’s record by much more than 10 wins. The core of this team is still very young and they lack any long-term solution for either guard position, though grabbing Kendall Marshall from the Lakers was an excellent offseason move. The team will also have a new coach in Jason Kidd, whose time in Brooklyn was wildly hit-or-miss.
All the pieces are there though, and between the last two drafts the Bucks organization looks as if it is definitely moving in the right direction. I’m going to want to check in on these youngsters every now and then, but they could definitely use one more prospect from the lottery before they become real League Pass material.
X-Factor= Jabari Parker
Parker is pretty much already being anointed this season’s rookie of the year, even though Andrew Wiggins now has the opportunity to pad his stats in Minnesota. I’ve heard he is NBA ready about 50 times. Now, I want to see it. If Parker can truly translate his scoring repertoire to the big leagues, and hit NBA 3 pointers the Bucks will have a future All-Star on their hands.