The 2015-16 NBA season begins this week with excitement and expectations, and while the best days for the Bucks may still lie in the future, you can only be young once.
This is a space not prone to overreaction. While the Bucks rattle off wins, I’ll be the one to tell you why there is likely a losing streak around the corner. When the Bucks put together a great month and a half before the All-Star Break, I’ll write about everything that they can do better.
That’s just the way I am. I insist on never getting too high or too low. When there is something positive, I try to find the negative that could be improved. When bad things are happening, I try to find the good.
Going into this season, I have struggled with how this thought process applies to the 2015-16 Milwaukee Bucks. While I think the city of Milwaukee is quite excited about this team and Bucks fans have high hopes for the upcoming season, some projections systems have killed the Bucks and suggested they could be five games worse than last season’s 41-win team. So, with that uncertainty, I will eschew my attempt at level headedness and instead try a different approach.
This season could be good. It could also be bad. As the season begins, no one really knows what to make of this year’s Bucks.
What we do know is that the Bucks’ best players are young and probably not quite sure how to play good basketball yet. Throughout the season, I’m sure I will write about ways in which they can improve their efficiency and make the team better, but it will be a challenge for me to remember that doesn’t matter quite yet.
Of course, you want players to improve and find the best versions of themselves at an elite NBA level, but often times that progression means players have learned the best ways to score, rebound, and make plays and they’ve cast aside all other options.
They know the spots on the floor that they like. They know the ways they can manipulate the defense. They know exactly where to position themselves defensively.
The best players in the league aren’t doing any frantic sprinting to come out of nowhere for a block. They don’t start a dribble drive in a congested lane and have to throw a pass over their head to bail themselves out. They aren’t trying out a new move to see if it will work. Once the league’s best players become great, there is a sort of eerie consistency to their play that makes it less exciting.
Sure, Kevin Durant is going to dunk on someone every once in a while and come off some screens to nail some threes, but you know when it’s going to happen. You’ve seen that episode before. It’s a rerun. At some point, you’re no longer actively enjoying the best players’ greatness, you’re appreciating it.
With that being said, I implore you to enjoy this Bucks team while they’re still young and stupid. They might not know what they’re doing yet, but they’ll figure it out…sometimes. Other times, they’ll throw it out of bounds and drive you crazy. But then other times, they’ll swoop through the lane and throw one down. Or come out of nowhere and block a shot off the backboard. As fans, you won’t know what is going to come next, and, quite honestly, the players might not know either.
Embrace the unknown. The future is already owned, but the now is still up for grabs. Enjoy it.
IN: Greg Monroe, Greivis Vasquez, Chris Copeland, Rashad Vaughn, Jabari Parker
OUT: Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia, Jared Dudley
There is certainly some concern that the loss of Pachulia and Dudley will have a negative effect on the Bucks this season, but the offseason signing of one of the league’s top free agents, Greg Monroe, has to be seen as a huge positive in Milwaukee.
Parker was included on the offseason moves because Parker is essentially an offseason addition as he played in only 25 games last season and missed out on much of the improvement the Bucks showed after December 26.
Clip of the Week
— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) October 24, 2015
These two plays are probably exactly what every Bucks fans was envisioning when the Bucks signed Greg Monroe. Plenty of touches for Monroe. Backdoor cuts from the wings. Beautiful bounce passes. All of the dunks.
- The Bucks Defense is not quite “there” yet. By simply looking at the scores, you can see the Bucks were able to keep the opponents from reaching triple digits just once during the preseason, but the problems cannot be chalked up to it being “just preseason.” The rotations are late. The communication isn’t quite where it needs to be. The new guys aren’t sure where to go yet. It will get better with time with Sean Sweeney at the helm, but it’s likely going to be another month until we really see the defense click.
- Rashad Vaughn can get buckets, but not really do much else. If you take a look at some of the box scores, you will see Vaughn’s name headlining the Bucks’ leading scorers, which is a good thing for one of the league’s youngest player. Unfortunately, Vaughn has struggled making plays with others and has been turnover-prone when not shooting the basketball.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo is shooting threes! Unfortunately, the results have been mixed thus far, as Antetokounmpo hit just three of his seven attempts. That incredibly small sample size of 42 percent three point shooting would be a very welcome addition to the Bucks this season, but it probably isn’t indicative of his actual shooting accuracy at this point. Antetokounmpo has looked good and awful during the preseason. Finding a consistent stroke will be key for him this season.
- No Jabari Parker. After seeing Parker play in the Bucks Fan Fest scrimmage, there may have been some that thought Parker might get some light work in the preseason, but he did not make an appearance. Bucks announcer Jim Paschke mentioned a potential early December return to action for Parker in a recent Bucks broadcast.
Season Opener Preview
For the first time in 30 years, the Bucks chose to make themselves available for a mid-week home opener and the NBA took them up on the offer, scheduling the Bucks to play the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
On the heels of an awful season, the Knicks completely overhauled their roster this offseason. They signed free agents Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, and Kyle O’Quinn and drafted Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant in the first round of the NBA Draft. Adding perennial All-Star Carmelo Anthony to this entirely new supporting cast could mean a much improved season for the Knicks.
Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can also find his work at SBNation’s Brew Hoop or you can find him on Twitter @eric_nehm, where he would love to your thoughts on the Bucks’ alternate jerseys. (He thinks they should have been blue and green like the first Timberwolves jersey Kevin Garnett wore.)