After making some noise in the basketball world by sneaking into the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks look to build on last year’s success with one of the most promising young cores in the league. After finishing 41-41 last year, up from 15-67 the previous, the Bucks have made all the right moves to take a giant leap forward. In acquiring Greg Monroe and Grievis Vasquez, Jason Kidd finds himself with a proven low-post scorer and a confident backup general. With both Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo gaining valuable international experience while representing their countries, the Bucks were successful in retaining key forward Khris Middleton to a long-term agreement.
Graphic via bleacherreport
Head coach Jason Kidd deserves all the praise in the world after bringing the Bucks’ defensive efficiency from 29th in 2012-2013 to 2nd overall in his first year in Milwaukee. As the season went on, this outstanding change was recognized around the league and saw Kidd finish third in Coach of the Year voting. Barring any setbacks, 2014 No. 2 selection Jabari Parker is on track for a return on opening night after seeing his rookie season cut short by a devastating ACL injury just before Christmas.
After last season’s .500 record, the Bucks are going to look to finish with more wins this year, but also to move up in the standings. The Milwaukee Bucks schedule has them slated for an opening match against the newly assembled New York Knicks. Though the Knicks aren’t necessarily looked at as a scary team around the league, this opening match represents a step the Bucks need to take. The Milwaukee Bucks schedule early on features many winnable games like this one that they need to consistently win before they even think about breaking into the next tier in the Eastern Conference. Five of the first seven games on the Milwaukee Bucks schedule will come against the Knicks, Nets and 76ers, all teams they are better than on paper.
In particular, last season the Bucks struggled mightily against teams in their own division, winning just seven of the sixteen games. This is another step they’re going to need to improve in, especially after losing in the first round to fellow Central Division threat, Chicago Bulls. The upcoming rematch between these two teams features a season series that both teams cannot afford to lose. The Chicago Bulls, with a new head coach and injury-free roster, are finally back in the contention picture and dropping multiple games to a lower-seeded team like the Bucks would represent taking a step backwards. On the other side of the spectrum, Jason Kidd is looking to prove last season was more than just a fluke, and challenging the existing Eastern Conference giants is perhaps the only way to prove they’re legitimate.
The future is bright in Milwaukee, as they have a unique group of developing players that boast a serious blend size, length and athleticism. With one of the top head coaches in basketball at the moment, the Bucks have the potential to take the next step.
Graphic via hardwoodparoxysm