Giannis Antetokounmpo may be been the greatest thing to happen to the Bucks franchise since they drafted Lew Alcindor (known as Kareem Abdul Jabbar). He remains as the cornerstone of the franchise for now though Milwaukee may simply be too small for his ambitions. It is about time they build a roster that is capable of making a deep run in the postseason. Their other alternative is to watch as he forces his way out of the Mid-West to a bigger city and a franchise capable of contending for a title.
The Bucks have been the team of the future for a number of years. They’ve drafted well and clearly have the potential to be a special team in the Eastern Conference. Except, of course, they simply have not risen yet. Over the past three seasons the Bucks have finished 12th, 7th, and 6th. In the last two seasons where they made the playoffs, they were unable to make it past the first round. Both playoff series were competitive though Milwaukee failed to win a single game on the road. Not bad, but more importantly, not an elite team either. It has been seventeen years since they made it past the first round of the playoffs. Back then, they were led by another All-Star in Ray Allen.
Giannis is starting to establish himself as one of the elite player in the game and has forced his way into the Most Valuable Player conversation. He has was outstanding during this past regular season – averaging 27 PPG, 10 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.4 BPG, on 53 FG%. He continued on this trend during the postseason as well. Playoff success is still needed for him to truly assert his status in the league, especially given that he plays in a weaker conference. This is not entirely his fault. Much of the blame can be placed on the team’s former head coach, Jason Kidd. His indifference towards switching on defense and limiting Giannis’ shots in the fourth quarter is completely incompetent. With the Hall-of-Fame bound point guard gone, the Greek freak will be playing under Mike Budenholzer. He is amongst the most renowned coaches in the league and the best that Giannis will play for. He steered a dull Atlanta Hawks team to a 60-win season and an appearance in the Conference Finals. Imagine what Coach Bud will be able to achieve with a generational talent.
Jabari Parker’s departure was necessary. After his second ACL injury, the forward simply did not look the player he could have been. Parker has never been a good defender and he looked lethargic after coming back during the middle of the season. His movement in the lateral plane was non-existent and he does not compliment Giannis. In fact, the two often occupy the same role. Bucks fans would have preferred a more action-packed offseason. The additions of Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez, and Done DiVincenzo were excellent in that they can all contribute to a winning team. This team is now better suited to Giannis and are now expected to make a deep run in the playoffs. The excuses for this team are now over.
Giannis is still very young and will only turn 24 years young this December. He is yet to hit his prime and will dominate the league for years to come. Imagining what he is capable of is mindboggling. The Greek Freak is in contention for being the best player in the East. He can cement his status by guiding his franchise past the likes of the Celtics, 76ers, and a Raptors side that have recently acquired Kawhi Leonard. Another underwhelming season could put the Bucks’ plans in jeopardy. Khris Middleton can become a free agent next summer should he turn down is 2019-20 player option worth $13 million. It will cost a lot more than the current $70 million deal that he is on to retain him. Thankfully, Giannis is under contract for another three seasons. That being said, he could still find a way to force himself out of the franchise should he feel that there are greener prospects in another city. He has preached loyalty to the city of Milwaukee. It is obvious that he truly loves this town and its fans. Almost every superstar has said the same when things are going well. Jon Horst and the Bucks ownership group should not let his words make them complacent. They do not need to win an NBA championship next season. But they will have to face some uncomfortable questions if they are to, once again, crash out of the first round of the playoffs.