That’s just the ceiling lowering a little bit
We’re only four games into the Bucks’ season so I’m not ready to start jamming the panic button after a less-than-inspiring 2-2 start. We’ve still got the reigning MVP! Even if his three point shot still looks like he hiccups in the middle of it! Or even if his current free throw percentage is Shaquillian-levels of abysmal! Or even if he was effectively harassed by Marcus Smart in Boston. Now allow me to take a sip of water since I’m so calm…
Look, the Bucks are still good and Giannis is still great…
I’m just not sure they’re a 60-win team again and I’m not sure he’s an MVP again. That isn’t to say he’s going to take a step back (He won’t. I’d bet on his 3FG% ending up right around 30%, his FT% bouncing back to the still-not-great low 70s and the rest of his counting stats looking like last season) but if the Bucks aren’t a 1-seed with 57+ wins, I don’t think he’s an MVP. He’ll be in the conversation but the narratives (which I’ve previously discussed) are better elsewhere in the league.
Outside of Giannis, the Bucks as a whole are likely to take just a minor step back. I still think Wes Matthews and Kyle Korver can replace most of what Brogdon provided but neither the Coach Bud system nor Giannis’ dominance are going to catch anybody by surprise this time around. The second year of a new system–even if executed better–is always rendered just a little less effective after the whole league has had the chance to study it.
I don’t think the Bucks are going to Let It Fly all the way to a 1-seed this season. I don’t even feel great about them hitting the over on Vegas’ preseason win total of 57.5 games. But all that means diddly when it comes to the postseason anyways. I’m more than happy to drop some games and end up a 3-seed if we can get some of the following sorted by playoff time:
- What is our crunch time lineup? Is it really George Hill at the point like we saw last night?
- Can Coach Bud trust Bledsoe? He’s only been playing 26 minutes per game and they’re not coming at the end of the game when he could be annoying scoring point guards like Kyrie and Kemba.
- Can DJ Wilson, Sterling Brown, or Donte Divincenzo be consistent, dependable roleplayers? I need to see more Donte before I can pass any judgement but I think the other two have shown flashes of being real NBA players last season. I’d like to see extended regular season minutes.
- Can Giannis go get a bucket? The answer is obviously “LOL YES WUT?!” but still we go to Money Midd in so many of these must-have-one situations. If that whistle goes silent or the defense properly adjusts, Giannis can still struggle to improvise out of his murderous-gavelle-rampaging-downhill offensive moveset. I like when I see him create a little space and take those very short jumpers in the key instead of either hoping for a whistle when he gets mauled or depending on his superhuman strength to finish through contact.
Tonight the Bucks need to beat the Magic. Tomorrow, a still-dangerous championship Raptors team waits for them in Milwaukee on the second half of a back-to-back. The next four are away games against the Wolves, Clippers, Jazz, and Thunder. There are no nights off in the NBA but this stretch is absolutely brutal. I think we’re about to get a look not just at the regular season ceiling of the Bucks but maybe even a preview of how Milwaukee reacts to the type of nitty gritty grind that the postseason always becomes. Who knows, maybe we’ll be 8-2 and I’ll be more like this:
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