The Milwaukee Bucks finally made their leap into the NBA’s elite last season, as they finished at the top of the Eastern Conference with a league-high 60 wins. They largely have to thank the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo, as his dominant stat line of 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game allowed him to become the first MVP from the Bucks since Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar back in 1974. Despite all of this success, however, the team came away disappointed after they were bounced in the conference finals by the Raptors in 6 games. Now, with Kawhi Leonard leaving the conference, the Bucks will look to take advantage and make the finals for the first time since that same 1974 season.
This offseason, the Bucks had to make some difficult decisions about who they wanted to surround Giannis with over the next two years before he becomes free agent in 2021. Their first move was to resign Khris Middleton to a five-year deal, which made a lot of sense given his success as Antetokounmpo’s secondary option because of his elite level 3-point shooting. They also brought back starting center Brook Lopez, who thrived in a renaissance season for himself last year as he showed the ability to adapt to the modern NBA by adding the 3-pointer to his arsenal.
The big loss of the offseason for the Bucks, however, was letting Malcolm Brogdon go to the Pacers. The former rookie of the year was an integral part of their playoff success this past season, occasionally stepping up to be the team’s second-best player after Giannis. Keeping him in Milwaukee was always going to be a challenge once the front office decided to extend Eric Bledsoe for four more seasons back in March. Hopefully that decision doesn’t come back to bite the Bucks but given Bledsoe’s ineffectiveness in the postseason there may already be some buyer’s remorse. However, if he can return to the form that she showed when he first got his contract extension, he can provide an impact played on both ends of the court.
While losing Brogdon definitely will hurt, Milwaukee did respond by adding some more depth across the rest of their roster. By adding a pair of sharpshooting wings in Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver, the bucks will be able to maintain their floor spacing for Giannis even when they go to their bench. They also added Robin Lopez, who will provide boosts to the teams rebounding and interior defense, which will come in handy if they have to play against a dominant big like Joel Embiid in the playoffs.