BUCKS ROSTER ANALYSIS: The 2018 Season Is Going To Be A Party With The New Forum But 2021 Could Be A Funeral If The Good Ol' GA Gets The F Outa' Here...
TIGER ANALYSIS INTRODUCTION
Ok so here's the deal yo. 2018-2019 is going to be a great season for the Bucks and for a lot of ways. Not only am I convinced we're going to be a pretty damn good team this season (finally) but at least very improved. On top of that it's just such a huge time to be a Bucks fan with the new Fiserv Forum, the Eastern conference being wide open as the Bucks could realistically represent vs. the Warriors (does any western conference team really have a chance this season?), but Giannis Antetokounmpo just may crack that MVP year as I expect him to be a top 3 if not top 2 candidate to win it this season. We'll be hearing what Vegas says and all the other sports sites real soon! The problem with all this hoopla is that it's going to be bad news bears for the Bucks and our fan base if we can retain GA in FA of 2021 off season. Seriously, it's going to be sore butt summer if Giannis doesn't sign with the Bucks for his inevitable 5 year super max that off season. So this is why I want to address it now because the hype for this season is getting real but we need to keep our eyes minds concentrated on the back burner too because the summer of 2021 could potentially be the GOAT of nightmares! I don't want to scare you anymore so let's talk about it and try to resolve this challenge shall we?
roster ANALYSIS SUMMARY
Let me start out by saying that the Milwaukee Bucks are facing a very interesting transitional phase right now. In fact, it may be the most unique and significant transitional year in franchise history. I already introduced the fact that 2021 is a huge off season for the Milwaukee Bucks. In fact it will be the most important BY FAR in franchise history (real franchise history with it) even beyond the off season Kareem left Milwaukee because Kareem really wanted to be a Laker and Giannis really wants to remain a Buck...we just have to give him enough reasons to remain here. But the reason why it's such a unique period for the Milwaukee Bucks right now is because it's going to be a ridiculously challenging puzzle on how to balance all of the different important and significant agendas the Bucks have over the next 3 years. It's an easy decision when you can decide as a franchise that it's clearly in our best interest for the next few years to ignore the long term and swing everything we got at making a championship run or the flip side and basically fire-sale the team and load up on draft picks and young assets to rebuild. The Bucks find themselves kind of in the worst situation possible actually.
Everything I just said is kind of what the Bucks need to do right now lol. I mean no one is going to beat the Warriors in the NBA finals this season but the Bucks can realistically get to the finals this year now that Lebron is in the West. On top of that, the odds of making it to the finals for the next 3 seasons are just going to increase for the Bucks most likely. But the problem is the Bucks aren't actually stacked with premium assets like we thought we were over the last two years. Jabari is gone now and it turns out he's not that good anyways and retaining him to try and realize his upside just wasnt worth the risk. Also, Thon Maker and Sterling Brown (I'm not including Donte DiVincenzo yet because his potential ceiling just isn't there until he proves to us on the court that he actually has one) are really the Bucks only true high ceiling long term assets outside of Giannis right now. Middleton and Bledsoe could both be gone next year in free agency. So really the Bucks are either going to have to hit big time on the future draft picks that we don't actually have because we have traded them or we're going to have to play the free agency game really hard and outsmart teams if we want to keep improving the, make championship runs, and be able to convince Giannis in 2021 to stay in Milwaukee for another 5 rounds.
Whoofta! I'm really glad I'm just a Bucks blogger and not their GM! This is not going to be easy. The Bucks unfortunately cannot just throw all their marbles in one basket here. Let's define those baskets. Here they are!
Bucks Roster Agendas For Next 3 Years
- Keep Giannis happy before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021 so we can sign him to his inevitable super max contract.
- Clear salary space at every chance to open up room for top tier free agents over the next few years.
- Maximize the players we have (or are stuck with) to become a top 3 team in the East yearly.
- Develop our best young assets as much as possible and acquire a few more if we can so that when Giannis hits his peak we have an elite core around him.
Ok so that list can come across a bit cliche and can apply to just about any team whether your star player is Giannis or someone else I get it. But the reason why this list of common agendas is a little more exclusive for the Bucks is because right now the unfortunate reality is that all four agendas are equally important and they are all interconnected where you can't just overload your focus on one or two agendas and keep it simple like some teams have the luxury of. For example, the Los Angeles Lakers just won the FA sweepstakes and acquired Lebron James as this means that they can basically just completely ignore drafting and developing players as their FA recruiting leverage has just exploded through the roof with the king in town. Lebron is going to tell front office what players he wants and they will move their pieces around best they can and try to make it happen. The Bucks with Giannis...not so much.
I don't know when or if we'll ever see a day where a Giannis led Bucks is ever going to be able to attract free agents like some of the other stars out there playing for big market franchises because Milwaukee is a small market team and chances are it will never become a big market team. I'm not saying that they won't ever be able to make strides in this avenue of acquiring players because the appeal of playing with the Greak Freak and the flash and flare of playing in a brand new Forum will go a long ways for the Bucks over the next few years. However, it would be ridiculous to predict that the Bucks will ever be able to compete on the level of the big market teams without Giannis Antetokounmpo a part of the Bucks franchise. If Giannis gets the fuck out of here in 2021, the Bucks are fucked. It's true. Sorry!
So my point here is that the Bucks front office and coaching staff really have their work to do as they can't isolate their agendas over the next 3 years before GA becomes a UFA (unrestricted free agent). Instead, unfortunately, they have the hard road of trying to maximize all agendas in balance with each other and it's going to take some serious execution if they are going get it all right. Trust me, they won't. No franchise can! It's not just the Bucks...it's just impossible. It really is. You're going to make mistakes and you won't execute everything perfectly. The key is just not fucking up the most important things and acing the most important things (even that's not easy right?). The bottom line is this.
The Bucks have to do whatever it take to retain Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 which will require the rare 5 year super max deal he will qualify for and to do that the Bucks have to become a top team in the East, stay there, and acquire ammunition in multiple ways to give Giannis enough reason and motivation to want to live in the freezing winters of Milwaukee Wisconsin for another 5 years of his life.
It's not going to be easy for the Bucks but fortunately they have a great opportunity to do it and I think they will pull it off as long as they don't make any major mistakes. They will make mistakes. Bake it in. Just no critical mistakes and the Bucks should be fine. The team is growing and going to keep getting better and as long as they do so Giannis will stay here in Milwaukee. It's where he wants to be and play his entire career but the team has to be good and give him the impression that they will continue to be good and can compete for a Championship yearly.
So ultimately if the Milwaukee Bucks are faced with all of these incredible challenges and priorities of equal importance that I present...what in the Buck are they supposed to do about all this? Simple. Just ride the Freak baby. We're talking GREAK FREAK. Seriously, just like the Cavs and the Heat and now the Lakers did with Lebron, you have to do with Giannis. The path has been paved. It's just what you have to do with once in a generation (if not a lifetime) players and Giannis right now is definitely in the same category of Lebron at this point. The Oklahoma City Thunder messed up with Durant by turning away from James Harden but also not realizing the conflicts that Durant had playing with Westbrook. Sure they finally toughed it out together and had some good runs but they had to get past the Warriors super team unfortunately and Durant simply just didn't want to play with Westrbook anymore. The point is that when you have these superstars on your team you just don't really have a choice as a franchise but to revolve around them and do everything you can possibly do to build the right kind of roster chemistry around them. If you fail. They leave. Simple as that.
Bringing in more talent is an obvious point but if the talent doesn't fit then well you're potentially taking a step back...not a step forward. We see this all the time in the NBA. Especially the NBA actually because one guy on an NBA roster has a much bigger impact on the team than in other sports where there are way more roster spots and more guys on the field/court at one time. I think we are discovering that NBA teams that have great chemistry where the players fit like a jigsaw puzzle tend to trump teams that appear more talented on paper. This could be upper tier, mid tier, or even lower tier...it really doesn't matter. Good coaching and a roster full of players that compliment each can overcome teams with better individual talents. The Bucks have the superstar and yes it would be great if they could acquire more over the next few years (and chances are they just may be able to some how some way) but at the end of the day the Bucks unfortunately have quite a few restraints going against them over the next couple years and they might not be able to land a superstar. So if they can't then what do they need to do?
Find cost effective players that just fit.
The Bucks might already be figuring this out as I'm really impressed with their off season this summer. If you read my Bucks Free Agency Reports you will see that I graded all four free agent acquisitions really high and it's because all of these guys that we picked up this summer were cheap and under the microscope offer way more value than the cost of their contract. On top of that all four players we signed really fit the team mold and even more importantly they all fit around Giannis! Anyway you can read my reports to get more analysis on our signings. I just wanted to mention this because none of these guys are superstars but there is no doubt that they make our team better this season even though none of them are extremely talented (Brook Lopez is pretty good however). Even Donte DiVincenco will probably make our team better this season because it's going to be easy to define his role and I think he's ready to contribute right away regardless that I really don't see much of ceiling for him and overall disappointed that we drafted him. Fortunately though I do think he'll be a good player, but not a great one obviously. He'll help the Bucks at least.
Totally getting side tracked here...just thought I'd mention that.
Anyway, just doing extremely critical research on free agents that may be overlooked but fit with the players, the coaching philosophies, the coaching schemes, and the overall culture of the team is really what it comes down to and I don't think it's that hard honestly. It's not like I'm some basketball expert analysis or anything. It's just that it's obvious when teams fuck it up with these lucrative deals to overrated players with name recognition or a recent small sample size of fluky success. Sometimes I wonder how much influence owners have in the personnel decisions as it seems as though with many teams (especially big market teams) that chances are they override a lot and go after players who have major name value over everything else. Regardless, this is how you mess up your franchise and find yourself rebuilding year after year and the Bucks can't do this or they will lose Giannis in 2021.
As far as drafting and developing goes... Well it's hard for me to see the Bucks catching up to other teams in the league if they are going to rely on drafting and developing because we're most likely going to lose our 1st round pick in 2020 or 2021 because of the Eric Bledsoe trade and really we just don't have time to wait for draft picks to develop as it's not going to align with PEAK GREAK FREAK. Giannis is about to hit a peak in his career and it very could be over the next three years. The franchise needs to build it's perceived value across players around league as much as possible it's just going to take some marque free agents over the next few years. They don't even have to be the top names...just the right fit and hopefully underrated bargain guys. The Bucks still need to keep replenishing through the draft to continue to acquire young talent at a steady pace. I'm just saying they shouldn't be trading for picks right nor be trading them away.
The biggest trend in the NBA right now is superstars signing with teams who have superstars. Expecting to hit on tons of draft picks is risky business. If you hit and land a superstar then you have a huge advantage but to acquire more it's all about attracting the current veterans in the league. The Bucks are going to need more than just Giannis to attract the bigger names in the league unfortunately. We'll certainly attract better players over the next few seasons (this season could spark the flame, seriously) but a lot of pieces on the team are going to have to be moved for the Bucks to have the cap space to do so. See what I'm talking about? This is all such a mess!
This is why I say ride the FREAK. It simplifies everything if you think about. The Milwaukee Bucks are going to have to execute on a high level the next 3 years with their drafting, free agent signings, trades, and clearing salary space. They can't get impatient but if a deal presents itself that they cannot refuse then they can't hesitate. I think they fucked up their draft pick this year honestly. They need to keep drafting for upside. Donte doesn't have it. Sorry bruh. They need to keep finding these bargain free agent deals and save every penny they can while still finding clever ways to keep the team improving and climb into the top 3 of the Eastern Conference. Maximize the G-League. Oh there you go they fucked up again by not giving Xavier Munford a deal this summer. Munford is good man. He ripped the G-League...what else are you supposed to do to gain the respect you deserve? He's a tenacious defender, can rebound, play maker, and can flat out shoot and score. The Bucks have to keep becoming a smarter organization and push to become the smartest and most resourceful. If they do...they could become a dynasty with Giannis. If they don't GA seriously might get the F outa' here in 2021. Giannis wants to win championships first and fore most. This is going to require maximizing your upside in literally EVERY TRANSACTION YOU FREAKING MAKE MILWAUKEE! Remember, you have to keep up with the freaking GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS. Out research every team in the draft, free agency, trades, and even the G-League.
But yeah back to my point. Everything this front office does needs to be backed by the mentality of "does this help maximize Giannis"? Talented big name players cost more (usually). That's usually how it goes. But there are always players available no matter where you look that fit with the alchemy of your roster, schemes, and star player and they are usually cheaper and overlooked. The Bucks need to make sure they have cap space specifically in 2021 so they can fire cannons back at every team that will try to steal Giannis from the Bucks. So for now keep being savvy like the Bucks were this summer, trade away your bad contracts ASAP (give them away from for free if you can!), get everything you can out of the Herd, and get back to trying to hit the home runs with your draft picks and just make sure you have a 1st rounder every year as long as you don't have to trade away young assets to do so.
Oh back to Xavier Munford real quick... If you didn't realize how freaking good Xavier Munford was in the G-League well here you go.
xAVIER MUNFORD 2018 PER GAME AVERAGE STATS
Seriously Xavier Munford was so good for the Wisconsin Herd and possibly one of the very best players in the league and we just let him walk. The Bucks barely even gave a chance to play last season when they brought him up for bit. What a waste. The Herd is your official development team now so that you can potentially hone raw talented players into overlooked diamonds in the rough. Munford probably has the upside to be a pretty damn good 6th man and for some reason the Milwaukee Bucks just lost interest in him. Weird. This is what I'm saying. This is an obvious mistake here. Xavier costs basically nothing to keep on your roster or even on the G-League. Why the hell are they just letting him walk?!?!?!?!? It blows my freaking mind.
The front office really has their work cut out for them. The Bucks need to maximize every role in the organization and become the most intelligent organization in the NBA (and soon) if they want to fully maximize the opportunity and chance to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo, a player of a life time, for another round of a contract and potentially his entire career in the NBA. Become the smartest organization in basketball by out working, out researching, and out innovating every team in the entire damn league. It's not easy and it won't be.
But if the they do it...
It will be worth it!!!!
Maybe it will even become Bucks in the Finals and Bucks in 6 every year? Who knows. There isn't much room for error though over the next 3 years and instead of another Bucks party...it will be a Bucks funeral. Don't pursue the next few seasons with fear...
Pursue with FIRE!!!
That's really all you need to do yo.
TIGER KEY POINTS
- 2021 is arguably the most important off season of Bucks franchise history because of how significant it is to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo to a 5 year Super Max contract.
- The Bucks don't have an easy road ahead of them for the next 3 years as they are riddled with agendas that are all equally important and intertwined as they can't just simplify isolate their focus, efforts, and resources on any single agenda.
- The Milwaukee Bucks need to become a top team in the East and stay there for the next 3 years and also build up enough ammunition and resources by 2021 so they can reload big time give Giannis all the reasons he needs to want to stay in Milwaukee and be convinced that a Championship is right around the corner (assuming they haven't won one yet)!
- Molding around your superstars works as it has for Lebron James led teams and it doesn't always require the big splash moves but more so careful calculation of what pieces out there on the market will ultimately fit with your star and surprisingly you can often get them for cheap if making a championship is more important to them!
- The draft and the Herd are crucial resources for the Milwaukee Bucks and will be needed to potentially gain an advantage over the league in terms of landing game changing talent, however, the Bucks front office needs to defy old narratives and turn Milwaukee into a top tier destination spot for marquee free agents to want to play for if they want to keep up with the big boys in free agency as they can't rely on developing players primarily anymore as the timeline of PEAK FREAK is just around the corner and being relevant in free agency is pretty much mandatory at this point if you want to keep up with the juggernauts in the Western Conference.
The Milwaukee Bucks do not have the big market muscle nor the destination appeal that other teams in the league have to appeal to marquee free agents nor do they have the time to wait anymore on relying on drafting and developing exclusively to improve the roster yearly and keep up with the best teams in the league. 2021 is a monumental year for the Bucks as we could see our superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo pack his bags and team up with another super team. If the Bucks are to become an elite team over the next few years it's going to require taking the toughest road and striving to become a top tier organization so they can attract big time free agents and get the most out of their draft picks and even their G-League team the Wisconsin Herd. The Bucks do not have the luxury of being able to overload their focus on any one the department at the moment but are faced with the difficult challenge of balancing every agenda equally. The Bucks have an opportunity of a lifetime here with Giannis but it's going to require maximum effort and a high level of execution and 2021 could very realistically be the end of his tenure in Milwaukee if Bucks front office makes any major mistakes.
The Bucks organization needs to maximize their resources and their staff as well as push to become one of the most intelligent (if not the most intelligent) and resourceful organizations in the entire NBA because the opportunity to bring championships to Milwaukee as long as Giannis is around is real. The ride could end early if he decides to leave in 2021 unfortunately. Thinking outside of the box, maximizing their brand appeal not just to the local fan base but the national fan base to grow their market value towards attracting marquee veteran free agents, and using the Wisconsin Herd development team to their advantage in gaining and edge over their competition are absolute priorities. Oh I didn't even mention getting back to drafting high ceiling athletes that have versatility and can play well both offensively and defensively (and have good shooting ability). The Milwaukee Bucks have the organization and the staff to do this however I feel like over the last two years they've made a few mistakes, have gotten lost in their priorities, and are now finally evaluating what they need to do over the long term. It's not so much about sacrificing the short term for the long term because they have a deadline in three seasons to get shit accomplished to maximize their chances of signing Giannis to the five year super max.
What I am saying as that it is really important that they establish a new bar line this season (aka a new floor) and simultaneously exhaust every avenue they can take to get ahead of the field in creative ways by being as resourceful as possible but also just straight up outwork other NBA team staffs. It's kind of like what the Brewers are doing with their minor league when they just can't compete with the top dogs financially. I don't even follow MLB but I know that much at least. The Milwaukee Bucks need to use this season, being the new Forum year, as an intermediate reset point not as a means to completely start over but a means to re-evaluate everything from a big picture perspective and then create a revised solution on everything they need to do within this crucial 3 season window of opportunity from a micro perspective. I think already since last mid season we have seen the Bucks switch gears a bit and finally decide to take out the trash rather than just...
LOOK AT IT!
They did it with Jason Kidd and his staff, they did it with Jabari Parker since bridges were clearly burned and the risk/reward opportunity just isn't appealing anymore, and hopefully they will do it with the overall organization's philosophies and blueprints from a few years ago. All I mean by this is that what ever chaos may be going on from the top of the origination hierarchy that may be getting in the way from executing on making good decisions...take out the trash! If there are too many cooks in the kitchen with too many agendas being thrown out on the table then do what ever it takes to compromise or just get some people out of the picture (literally how about out of the negotiating room?) so the most intelligent people in the room can make the decision and more importantly...
THE RIGHT ONE!
Seriously, I would love a personal explanation by owners Marc Lasry, Wes Eden, Jamie Dinan, GM Jon Horst, and head coach Mike Budenholzer on why you could possibly justify letting your G-Team stud Xavier Munford just walk and not even bring him back on the Herd for another year or even better yet offer him a two-way? I mean what's the point of your development team when you have a player that crushes expectations, dominates the league, and then you just dismiss him the following season? WTF? What else is the guy supposed to do? Xavier is still out there! Sign him quick damnit! He's basically free! Whatever... You guys won't listen to me even if somehow this article even got in front of your eyes this week lol. I guess my new blog would be kicking ass if it traveled that quickly!
Anyway, this is my first vent session on my blog so shut up if you don't like it. My platform, I can do what I want :p. A real chaotic article with it...
Hopefully the Milwaukee Bucks will end there own chaos.
Maybe the solution here is as simple as that?
TIGER'S FINAL TAKE
For the record, this is the first deep analysis article I have ever written on Bucks On Fire. If you read all the way through, first, thank you! Second, be prepared for more! In the future I can assure you one thing. I don't (and will not) write to say the "right things" out of fear, because I write with FIRE.
This is TIGER. BUCKS ON FIRE!