By: Jim Boyce
Last night the Bucks dropped a completely uninspiring game on the road in Orlando to extend their losing streak to four. Afterwards they held a team meeting, which is not really news any fan enjoys hearing about. The Bucks are now 20-22 and in the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference standings. For fans of the team, myself included, watching the Bucks this season has been both exhilarating and frustrating and often within the course of the same week. How do you beat the Spurs on the road without Giannis then drop a home game to Philadelphia six days later? The answer is likely pretty simple, youth.
Here’s a bold prediction for you, the Cleveland Cavaliers will win the East. Well that was not all that bold after all, but it offers some perspective to viewing the Bucks. While there is no doubt playoff experience would help the Bucks, one has to understand that the results of this season are fairly inconsequential. While it may feel like the Bucks have been “owning the future” forever, the fact is this team has not arrived yet by a long shot. For the rebuilding clubs in the NBA like the Bucks, Sixers, and Timberwolves, the only thing that really matters is your young core. The rest of the guys that fill out the roster can be replaced and likely will be by the time the team is truly a contender.
The Bucks have a bona fide super star in Giannis Antetokounmpo. An All-Star starter at age 22, he is putting up insane numbers and has the Bucks playing much better than I figured they would back when Khris Middleton went down with injury. For as good as he is now imagine what he may be at age 25, 26 etc. Every championship team needs an MVP candidate and the Bucks can check that off their list.
Jabari Parker has played his way to fringe All-Star status this season and has definitely made the leap as a scorer from last season. The hope is that he still is improving and can provide a one-two punch with Giannis that will be the envy of the NBA once the Warriors and Cavs dominant runs begin to fade. Other players I would include as young building blocks for this team are Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker. While these guys are fun to watch right now, the focus should be on what they are in a few seasons.
Obviously every contending team needs a solid bench, and that is something the Bucks will need to be smart with when they add pieces around the core. Right now the Bucks have 42 million dollars invested in the Center position and not enough minutes to get them all into the game, these kinds of things will need to be rectified going forward. The Bucks also will not be able to afford bad contracts on non-essential players. Paying someone like Miles Plumlee 13 million could be killer when it comes time to pay a guy like Brogdon.
So do not lose hope when the Bucks drop a game they have no business losing. While we all want to see the Bucks make some noise in the playoffs right now, keeping and growing the young core of players is all that really matters. Eventually these guys will reach their primes and the Bucks will not be so up and down throughout the course of the regular season. The rebuild may feel like it is taking forever, but I am more than willing to wait it out with the hope of championship level basketball in Milwaukee once again.