Milwaukee Bucks are off to a great start to the offseason

NBA Sacramento Kings Bogdan Bogdanovic (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NBA Sacramento Kings Bogdan Bogdanovic (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks open the offseason with a splash

The Milwaukee Bucks are in the midst of a critical offseason as a franchise following a disappointing second-round playoff exit to the Miami Heat. With the start of the NBA season a little more than a month away (December 22nd) and the impending free agency of their franchise player Giannis Antetokounmpo next offseason (if he doesn’t sign an extension this offseason), the clock is ticking on the Bucks to make a championship run to keep Giannis long-term.

When bubble play resumed, the Bucks were never able to regain their pre-hiatus form and suffered the consequences against a cohesive Heat team that makes opponents pay for their mistakes.

The playoff series also highlighted the weaknesses of Giannis who still has to improve on his decision-making and shooting to take the next step in his development. While Giannis may just be the best transition player in the NBA, his half-court game will need to get better for the Bucks to reach their championship potential.

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The Bucks have been a great regular season team because of their ability to space the floor which allows Giannis to attack the paint. However, in the playoffs teams form a wall of three to four defenders to dissuade Giannis at the rim which throws their whole offense out of sync. This defensive tactic was seen when the Bucks lost to the Raptors and Heat in consecutive postseasons. If the Bucks can’t better counter tough playoff defenses they will continue to fall short of their championship goal.

Thus far the Bucks have added Jrue Holiday (19.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists per game) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (15.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game) to their starting lineup in an attempt to entice Giannis to re-sign. These trades show that they are committed to improving their roster around Giannis. Holiday is a great two-way player that can play stifling defense and switch onto forwards because of his versatility and size.

On offense, Holiday does everything well, but nothing elite and should be an upgrade at point guard over Eric Bledsoe and George Hill. Holiday is a big guard that is savvy at using angles to get defenders on his hip and create advantages for himself and his teammates.

Bogdanovic is a knockdown shooter that should get plenty of open 3-point looks in the Bucks’ pace and space offense. Bogdanovic can create his own shot, put the ball on the floor, and get to the rim or make a clever pass. Expect Bogdanovic to look like a better player on the Bucks than the Kings because he will be surrounded by better teammates allowing him more space on offense to operate. Bogdanovic plays with the ultimate confidence and is not scared to take the big shots, something that the Bucks relied heavily on Khris Middleton and Giannis for.

The Bucks did lose some depth in these trades because to land Holiday they gave up Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and three first-round picks. To acquire Bogdanovic and Justin James, the Bucks gave up Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson, and Ersan Ilyasova. However, the Bucks are not done making moves yet and should continue to be active in the trade market and free agency. With the outgoing of five players, the Bucks are losing 43.7 points per game, but the additions of Holiday and Bogdanovic make the Bucks a more adaptable team both offensively and defensively.

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The Bucks need to prove they are capable of making a deep playoff run and perhaps changing some key rotational pieces will inject new energy into the team and allow for a more cohesive and versatile finishing lineup. The basketball world continues to speculate on where Giannis will play and smart moves like these will improve the Bucks’ chances of keeping him long term.