Fear the Deer: How Milwaukee Can Go Back-to-Back

It’s a new year, but it’s the same old dominance for a potential new dynasty.


Photo from La Voz

In the 2013 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 18 year old 6’9 190 pound kid from Greece. Previously, he was in Division 3 Greek basketball, far removed from the competition of Division 1 college ball or the Euroleague. He was far from the obvious choice, and in his rookie year they went 15-67 in the 2013-2014 season. By 2019 and 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks had the best record in the NBA twice and Giannis won back-to-back MVPs plus a Defensive Player of the Year award, and this past season they won the championship. With this incredible fight to the top, the Bucks are poised to run it back this year, and here’s how:

First, the clear star of the show is Giannis, but with a new twist. Now 6’11 242 with a Greek God physique, he is the most dominant physical specimen in the league. His speed and lateral quickness for his size is unmatched and that combined with his elite strength, vertical, and a 7’4 wingspan makes him unstoppable driving towards the basket on offense and very versatile and a great rim protector on defense. All of this makes him arguably the best player in the NBA. However, his big flaw has always been shooting. Although he tries, he’s never been efficient from the 3 point line or the mid-range. This year, however, his jumpshot is looking much more smooth, his post game is much improved, and he’s playing with a confidence that we’ve never seen from him after he accomplished his goal of winning the championship for Milwaukee. With him shooting well, he will be completely unguardable as you can’t build a wall at the rim around him because he can now shoot but you can’t give him too much attention on the perimeter, otherwise he’d blow right past the defender to the basket. That would also give the rest of the offense less pressure and make his passing shine through as well. As great as Giannis is though, the rest of the team is what makes it even more deadly than last year.

The clear 2nd option of this team is Khris Middleton, who was averaging 21 Points and 6 Rebounds/Assists Per every 36 minutes played. He is a very efficient shooter, shooting over 41% from 3 last season and can score from every part of the court. He is also a good passer and defender while helping start up the offense when Giannis is either off the court or shooting poorly. The 3rd option is Jrue Holiday, who is possibly the best perimeter defender in the NBA. His defense gives him value despite his very inconsistent scoring but that combined with his great passing gives him almost as much value as Middleton. The rest of the team is filled with a lot of very good role players. Brook Lopez is immobile but a great shooter and good rim protector, Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, and Rodney Hood are also very good shooters and okay defenders, and Bobby Portis George Hill, Donte DiVencenzo, and Semi Ojeleye are all great backups and rotational pieces. It is really well constructed from top to bottom, and it there are shooters everywhere to complement Giannis, a lot of good post defenders/rim protectors, some solid playmakers and overall this team is about as good if not better than last year. Now most oddsmakers have the Bucks 3rd in the championship race behind the Nets and Lakers, but I think they are better than both of them, here’s why:

First, the Los Angeles Lakers have LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. LeBron is considered by many to be the greatest player ever and, although he isn’t who he was at his peak, he is still an all-time great scorer and passer and can at times be a very good defender. Russell Westbrook was the 2017 MVP, but has been shown to be very inefficient, a bad shooter, turnover-prone, an awful shot IQ, and a ball-hog from everyone else, with his only upside being his elite finishing, passing, and solid defense.  Anthony Davis is a DPOY caliber defender with great scoring ability and not many. Everyone else on the team is a mid-tier role player. The biggest problem with this team is their fit. Their 2 main Point Guards, Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo, and Centers, Dwight Howard, cannot shoot. Beyond that, they have 9 players 32 or older, all being contributing players. Now age is not the only factor but they will definitely have a more sluggish roster than most, and the Bucks only have 2 guys that age. Also, balancing LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, 2 guys who are at their best with the ball in their hands, will be a nightmare as well as just not a lot of balance on the team. Beyond that, with Giannis’s jumpshot the great post defense the Lakers do have may not be able to slow him down and considering it could be a struggle to get offense going against a great defense like Milwaukee and I think the Lakers would probably lose, save for a 2018 finals type performance from LeBron.

The Brooklyn Nets are the other favorites. Now they still have Kevin Durant and James Harden, 2 of the 3 or 4 best scorers in the league. They also have some very good role players in Patty Mills, Paul Millsap, Joe Harris, Nicolas Claxton, and Blake Griffin. There is a massive problem though: no Kyrie Irving, their clear 3rd best player. With him most likely out for the season, that offense that was running as well as the 1992 Dream Team is missing that massive punch of offense. Their new starting PG is Patty Mills, who has started a combined 3/216 games in the last 3 seasons. They also have some pretty awful defense, with at most 3-4 players being good on that end, and most are average to below average. They have some decent depth, but their offense is significantly worse and with their bad overall defense the Bucks would cause a lot of problems against them.

With no other teams being legitimate title contenders, the NBA title fight is seeming to look like a 3 team battle. Of them, the Bucks have the least unanswered questions, they are the most proven team and they are under less pressure than any team. They have nothing to lose and that combined with their talent, depth, and fit, should make them the favorites to run it back.