With the NBA season one month away, it is time to turn our attention to what’s in store for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. A year ago, the Bucks finished with a record of 44-38, which was good enough for the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Ultimately, their season ended in Boston after a Game 7 loss to the second seeded Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
The upcoming 2018-2019 campaign for Milwaukee will look a little different both on the court and on the sidelines.
Last year, Jason Kidd was relieved of his head coaching duties for the bucks after 45 games, leaving then assistant coach Joe Prunty as the interim head coach. Prunty led the team to a 21-16 record the rest of the way, but it wasn’t good enough to retain the job for this upcoming year. Second year General Manager Jon Horst, hired former Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer to coach the Milwaukee Bucks. Budenholzer, who spent 17 years as an assistant coach to Greg Popovich in San Antonio, got his first head coaching gig in Atlanta where he had a .520 winning percentage and led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals in the 2014-2015 season. Later that season, Budenholzer was awarded the NBA Coach of the Year Award. To put it simply Bucks fans, the addition of Mike Budenholzer, often referred to as Coach Bud, is going to show us great results early. With the past three head coaches of the Milwaukee Bucks having been Larry Drew, Jason Kidd, and Joe Prunty, Budenholzer has the pressure to be the great head coach Milwaukee has long been searching for. Luckily for us Bucks fans, I believe he will live up to the high expectations.
The roster of the Milwaukee Bucks looks similar to last seasons squad. Projected MVP candidate and All Star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or “Greek Freak” for those of you who can’t say his last name, returns once again as the face of the franchise. Eric Bledsoe, who Milwaukee acquired at the trade deadline last season from Phoenix, will try to regain the trust from Bucks fans after a very inconsistent second half of the season. Returning for his sixth season as a Buck, Khris “money” Middleton, who averaged 20.1 points per game on 46.6% shooting from the floor and 35.9% from three land last season, will continue to give the Bucks a scoring threat that they desperately need. The former Rookie of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon, returns to help lead a very young Bucks team with the leadership he acquired during his time at the University of Virginia.
During the offseason, the Bucks watched former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker walk down I-94 to Chicago to join the Bulls. While Jabari has high potential, the Bucks did the right thing letting him go, as he was asking for too much money for having accomplished very little in his NBA career so far. The Bucks signed Brook Lopez to a 1 year, $3.3 million contract to help booster them at the Center position after finishing towards the bottom of the league in rebounds per game a season ago. While good in theory, Lopez loves to hang around the three point line on offense and will not improve the rebounding struggles the Bucks faced a season ago.
The Milwaukee Bucks have tremendous pressure on them to deliver this year. After underperforming in the eyes of Bucks fans a season ago, the Bucks need to find themselves as a top four seed in the Eastern Conference come the end of the season. Although I believe that the Bucks could be a 50-win team this year, I have them winning 47 games and losing in the second round of the playoffs. While I could see the Bucks making a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the weakness in the post will be tough to overcome and will frustrate Bucks fans all season long. The lack of additions made this summer should also concern us Bucks fans. That being said, the superstar that is Giannis Antetokounmpo, could take the Bucks farther than they have been in a long time. Who knows, maybe the addition of Mike Budenholzer might just be the missing piece that the Bucks need to get them out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001. We’ll start to find out beginning on October 17 in Charlotte when the Bucks look to begin the season 1-0 against the Hornets.