The Bucks openly admit to last year’s playoff disappointment and have taken substantial steps to address it. The team began by changing their head coach and then made a significant addition to their roster, acquiring another star player.
As of today, the team appears incredibly intriguing, ranking among the top contenders for the title. This will undoubtedly garner significant attention for Milwaukee. You can place bets on Bucks’ games directly from your smartphone by yukle the Mostbet app.
Last season’s results: 1st place, 58-24.
Incomings – Damian Lillard, Cameron Payne, Malik Beasley, Robin Lopez.
Retained – Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Pat Connaughton, Khris Middleton, Jae Crowder, Bobby Portis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez.
What to Expect from the Team
At the end of September, Milwaukee sent shockwaves through the basketball world by trading for none other than Damian Lillard. This deal cost them Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, a first-round pick in 2029, and two first-round pick swaps in 2028 and 2030. Despite any debate, Milwaukee undeniably won this trade, at least as of now. They improved their chances of winning the title, transforming a very good, star player into a superstar.
Yes, they did so at the expense of relinquishing future draft picks and their flexibility. However, in my opinion, this move should prompt Giannis to re-sign with the Bucks, which would soften the blow of losing those picks. Giannis emphasized that he would only think about re-signing if he saw a commitment from the franchise to contend for a championship. Signing Lillard is the maximum Milwaukee could have done and a significant one. We’re now waiting for Giannis’ decision.
When discussing the loss of Holiday, the primary and almost sole focus in this situation becomes defense. Do I agree that Holiday is a better defender than Lillard? Yes. Will this have such a radical impact? No.
Certainly, Holiday’s defensive skills would have been valuable for the Bucks in isolation. However, among their direct competitors in the Eastern Conference, the best players are mainly forwards and big men: Embiid, Adebayo, Tatum, Brown, Butler. In the last playoffs, we saw that Jimmy Butler turned Jrue into less than himself. In defense, Holiday could do practically nothing against him.
On the other hand, by sacrificing one aspect (though a crucial one), the Bucks have gained numerous other dimensions. In the pursuit of talent, they’ve added talent, and not just any talent but the best player. Lillard is a better point guard, a better playmaker, a better scorer, a better shooter, and a better clutch performer. Having a performer like Lillard opens up significantly more possibilities for the Bucks offensively compared to what Holiday’s defensive presence provided.
The arrival of Lillard will resolve the significant and painful dilemma for the Bucks of having a “closer.” A player who takes the ball in crucial moments and makes a difference for his team. Does Lillard have such a reputation and the necessary skills? Absolutely. Was Holiday that player? No. Giannis wasn’t and isn’t required to be the same “closer” who plays hot potato with his teammates in the closing seconds.
I also hope that with Adrian Griffin taking the helm as head coach of the Bucks, he will involve Giannis more on defense against more mobile opponents, such as Tatum and Butler. Budenholzer used Antetokounmpo more as a stationary option against bigger players.
Finally, Milwaukee has signed free agents Cameron Payne and Malik Beasley, who will serve as replacements for Jeff Teague and Grayson Allen. So, even in terms of rotational depth, the Bucks have lost almost nothing. In terms of star power and overall strength, they’ve only gained.
Player to Watch: Khris Middleton
The arrival of Lillard will undeniably make Khris Middleton’s life easier in many aspects of the game. Especially in clutch situations, where Middleton was the “first violin” for the Bucks in late-game scenarios. Additionally, with Lillard’s presence in the offense, the Bucks will have more space, which, in turn, will offer Middleton more opportunities for open three-pointers. He’s very proficient in this aspect. The main concern will be his health. Without a healthy Khris Middleton, Milwaukee’s chances for a championship diminish.
Despite the Celtics’ improvements, I personally consider Milwaukee the strongest team in the East. It’s a very slight margin, but it’s the Bucks. If they don’t win the regular season, they’ll represent the East in the NBA Finals.
Prediction: 1st place in the Eastern Conference.