With Parker as the potential cornerstone, can the Bucks turn their franchise around?
Last season, the Bucks aimed to make the playoffs. To put it lightly, they fell short. Thanks to injuries, locker room fights, bar fights, and suspensions, the Bucks ended the season with the worst record in the NBA. Through the miserable, fifteen-win season, hope remained for a better future. With the sale of the team to new, young owners, as well as a new coach and a top draft pick, hope continues to grow for the future of Milwaukee basketball.
Coaching – 22/25
This offseason, the Bucks captivated the attention of the basketball world for an entire week. That’s not a sentence you hear all too often. In a surprise move, the Bucks pried Jason Kidd away from Brooklyn after only one 44-38 season with the aging Nets. Kidd’s failed power play resulted in him joining the Bucks via trade to start to build a championship contender from the ground up. Kidd’s one good season isn’t enough to prove himself as an NBA coach, and he has had his share of bad moments. But in only one year, Kidd was able to adjust to coaching in the NBA and turn his team’s season around, leading an old team to the playoffs. More than just getting there (it is the Eastern Conference we’re talking about), Kidd was able to win a long series against a difficult Toronto team and even steal a game from Miami. This playoff success early in his coaching career is a good sign for a young coach about to take over an even younger team which needs to learn from some of that experience.
Free Agency and Trades – 19/25
Milwaukee is not exactly a free agent destination, and this year no major moves were made for the Bucks through transactions (other than the Kidd trade). However, they were able to bolster their second unit through the waiver acquisition of Kendall Marshall and the signing of Jerryd Bayless. Kendall Marshall will be a point guard for Milwaukee coming off the bench and likely playing alongside Brandon Knight, who often plays the two guard when a better distributor is on the floor to play the point. Combined with last year’s second rounder Nate Wolters, Marshall will provide a lot of depth at the point guard position. Known for his passing (8.8 assists last season), Marshall will likely be on the floor often with Jabari Parker to distribute.
The addition of Jerryd Bayless also provides more depth in the guard positions but also brings experience to an area in the lineup where the Bucks are lacking veterans. All other Bucks guards, excluding the washed up OJ Mayo, are yet to turn 23. Bayless will be a key second unit guy that can play combo guard and will be played in a similar way to Brandon Knight. The offseason moves were not anything exceptional for Milwaukee, but they will greatly help a weak second unit.
Draft – 24/25
The excitement in Milwaukee peaked during the NBA draft when the Bucks picked their man, Jabari Parker. Parker can play well immediately and is a rare offensive talent, with the ability to score from anywhere on the court. His defense is subpar, but when paired with Giannis, who can guard every position, Parker will be allowed to take easier defensive matchups. Parker is perfect, not just in his offensive production for Milwaukee, but also his personality. Growing up in nearby Chicago and announcing he hopes to be a “one franchise player” gives hope that the Bucks could have a cornerstone, not just for the next five years, but the next fifteen. The draft wasn’t all about the second pick however; the Bucks still had several second rounders.
For some reason, Bucks GM John Hammond is really good at drafting. This year, he may have found a second-round gem yet again. This year, the Bucks turned these picks into Johnny O’Bryant, a center from LSU, and Damien Inglis, aka Giannis part two. O’Bryant played well in summer league, and he could be a solid NBA center one day if he capitalizes on his size and his defensive and passing abilities. Damien Inglis is an unknown from France, but he has stature and play similarly to Giannis. The potential reward from this pick is much greater than the risk. The only reason Milwaukee did not get a perfect score here was that they could have traded back into the first round in this deep draft and failed to do so. Still, this draft is a huge step in the right direction for Milwaukee.
Current Player Core – 21/25
With various injuries and other personnel problems last year (see: Larry Sanders, OJ Mayo), the Bucks’ potential was not put on display. Brandon Knight has been better for Milwaukee than Brandon Jennings (for whom he was traded) and led their offensive attack last season. Giannis Antetokounmpo and now Jabari Parker are two of the most exciting young talents in the NBA. Only two years ago, Larry Sanders was leading the league in blocks and was one of the best defensive big men around, and he has the capability to return to that form. John Henson is similar to Sanders defensively but actually has an offensive game. Ersan Ilyasova will be back from injury next year and could be a key trade piece if they want more young talent. Wolters and Khris Middleton both exceeded expectations and played big roles for Milwaukee. This team is very young and with time to grow, a better coach, and a star in Jabari Parker, could be legitimately competing in a few short years.
Overall Future – 86/100
The Bucks were miserable last year, but it was a blessing in disguise. With new ownership, a new coach, and a potential star, the Bucks’ future looks bright. To become contenders however, the talent will have to pan out. This is an incredibly young team with lots of potential, but it could take several seasons before any signs of contending will really start to show. This team will not be good in the immediate future. But in the big picture, things are looking up in Milwaukee for the first time in years.