When Giannis Is The Answer, Who Cares What The Question Is

Bucks Free Agents: Tony Snell, Jason Terry, Michael Beasley

2016-17 Bucks Weaknesses30th: Shooting Guard Points. 29th: Total Rebounding, Backcourt Scoring, Non-Paint Points. 28th: Defensive Rebounding, Point Guard Points. 26th: Pace. 25th: Offensive Rebounding. 21st: Free Throws Made. 20th:  Free Throws Attempted, Points Scored.

2016-17 Bucks Strengths1st: Power Forward Scoring. 2nd: Frontcourt Scoring, Points in the Paint. 4th: Field Goal Percentage. 5th: Assists. 6th: 2-Point Percentage, Blocks. 8th: Bench Points, Small Forward Scoring. 9th: Opponent Points. 10th: 3-Point Percentage, Steals, 3-Point Defense.

Largest (3) Contracts 2017-18: Giannis Antetokounmpo $22,471,910. Greg Monroe $17,900,000.  Khris Middleton $14,100,000.

Player Options: Greg Monroe $17,900,000, Spencer Hawes $6,021,175

Every great player has a breakout year where he establishes his dominance and 2016-17 was that year for Giannis. He was an All-Star. He trended towards superstar as the Bucks leaned on him to be their best player and savior. The votes haven’t been revealed yet but expect Giannis to make his first All-NBA team. He should get votes for MVP and Defensive Player of the Year and win Most Improved Player. He was the Bucks best offensive player and defensive player.

This was Giannis’ greatest year as a professional, career highs in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, offensive rating and PER. He established the Bucks are his team but there are still some areas he needs to work on. His 3-ball is awful and he needs to get in the gym and take 500 jumpers a day. He also needs to improve his mid-range game. His mid-range efficiency hovers around 35% with an inconsistent jumper. The question is, how are the Bucks going to build around him?

Going forward, now that Giannis has established himself as the Bucks star, where is the consistent offense going to come from, particularly in the backcourt?

Giannis’ athleticism and length and defensive intensity marks him as one of the games bright stars that is going to engender double teams and then who is up next? Jabari Parker has the front court covered but what kind of perimeter game can the Bucks count on when the ball moves from side to side? Who can match up with John Wall and Isaiah Thomas scoring the ball? Who can score under pressure?

Christmas came early when the Bucks got rid of Michael Carter-Williams and they didn’t miss him. Finding Malcolm Brogdon in the second round of the 2016 draft was a gift. Brogdon may be Rookie of the Year and it points to the astuteness in the Bucks front office.

The Milwaukee weakness is rebounding. They are terrible at it, awful, inept. They don’t have a double digit rebounder. Giannis is the best they have.  Greg Monroe is not explosive enough to have as his primary job get the missed shot. Monroe is an offensive player. The Bucks need to add a nose for the ball rebounder who doesn’t care about points, who has a little dog in him. He just wants to keep possessions alive.

This is the problem no rebounding brings. You don’t get to establish your pace. You don’t get extra possessions. You let the opponent dictate their offense. The Bucks need someone who is a workhorse on the boards and the reality of it is that Monroe may not opt out his contract. He has to ask himself who is going to give him more than $17 million, unless he is angling for a longer contract from the Bucks. John Hammond don’t do it.

This is a three point era, one the Bucks have yet to adapt to. They took (17) fewer attempts than league leader Houston. They need more perimeter scorers to keep defenses from packing in the paint and doubling Giannis. Three point shooters make the game easier.

Jabari Parker finally lived up to his potential and he showed a comfort level with what the NBA game is and what his talent can get on a nightly basis. He is  a nightmare to guard in the open court and in the half court he can find his spots. Another knee injury is depressing. How exactly is he going to come back? Should the  Bucks think about trading him but does the league consider him damaged?

Around the NBA no one was prepared for this Giannis and these Bucks. They are long and athletic and a nightmare in the open court. But they don’t get to the line because they don’t have drivers and finishers through contact. They don’t hit threes and it makes it impossible to compete with the fast paced teams that use threes as a part of the gameplan.

Making the playoffs was great for Giannis, this Giannis. The star Giannis. He got a taste of what you need. Mistake free basketball. Perimeter scoring. Talent up front.  Rim protectors. And a bench. Not to mention a star.

The star they have. They move the ball. They defend and block shots. But not rebounding means they lose possessions and get behind when they play against gifted shot makers. The Bucks need a gifted shot maker themselves. Khris Middleton was inconsistent in the playoffs and shot 39%. Maybe it was the injury and the return. Maybe not.

It was a great start for Milwaukee as far as their future. They are far from finished, despite the depressing nature of their abrupt playoff end. They are only starting to scratch the surface.

The Bucks, if they do the right thing, are the team up next. LeBron will wind down. Someone has to replace him. Giannis is the number one candidate to take over for the King. But the Bucks have to be ready to take it. No one is going to give it to them.

photo via llananba