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After finishing the regular season with the best record in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks entered the playoffs as a favorite to win the Eastern Conference. That seemed like a safe bet after they went up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
Unfortunately, their season came crashing down when they lost four straight games and were eliminated from the playoffs in devastating fashion.
Milwaukee has several key free agents this coming offseason that must be addressed. At the top of the priority list are Kris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon, both restricted, meaning they can match any offer made to either player.
Middleton is their second best player and blossomed into an All Star caliber player this past year. Brogdon was the glue and a steadying force, his value can’t always be measured via stats.
Two other players of interest who will be free agents are Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic. The Bucks’ offense relies heavily on floor spacing and keeping the paint open for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Both these players help that by their ability to hit three pointers, their importance can not be underestimated.
It will come down to finances: after the season Lopez had he’ll be looking for a sizable raise (he made $3.3 million last season). Realistically, they will only be able to keep one of them and Mirotic will likely be the odd man out.
The draft is always a good way to add young inexpensive pieces to your roster. Milwaukee has one pick in the upcoming 2019 draft and must make it count. It’s the last pick in the first round (#30) and will have some intriguing players available to select from based on team needs. A athletic front court player would be a great fit for them.
For the remaining players on contract, they must take it upon themselves to get better. Personal responsibility in the offseason to commit to getting stronger and improving weaknesses in their game is essential for Milwaukee to take the next step.
It all starts with their franchise player, Antetokounmpo, working diligently on improving his outside shot and setting the tone for others in the weight room.
Another decision that has to be made is scaling down what will be an overcrowded shooting guard/wing position. Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and Malcolm Brogdon are locks on the rotation.
That leaves four players for two other spots. First, there’s Tony Snell, a two way player who has fallen out the rotation. There’s also Donte DiVincenzo, a versatile rookie coming back from injury.
Pat Connaughton is a steady player who showed production last year. Lastly, Sterling Brown is a young athletic player with potential. The Bucks must decide on who is staying, then they can make some moves to improve the roster by trading players.
As much praise and credit head coach Mike Budenholzer has received for Milwaukee’s rise, he must get better as well. The coaching staff’s job is to make critical adjustments as the games/series progress.
After the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals against the eventual champion Toronto Raptors, they failed to make the correct changes and the team paid dearly.
Overall, the Milwaukee Bucks are in great shape to be consistent playoff contenders and a threat to make the NBA Finals. Some tweaks must be made on both ends of the court and to the roster to help maximize the team’s potential.
Hopefully, the offseason decisions in free agency and the draft turn out to be the right choices.