Milwaukee Bucks: Record last season: 33-49
Postseason results: None
Additions: Mirza Teletovic, Matthew Dellavedova, Michael Beasley, Jason Terry, Malcolm Brogdon, Orlando Johnson, Thon Maker, J.J. O'Brien, Jaleel Roberts
Subtractions: O.J. Mayo, Greivis Vasquez, Steve Novak, Jerryd Bayless, Johnny O'Bryant, Damien Inglis
Biggest move: Trading for Matthew Dellavedova
Projected finish: 10th in the Eastern Conference
Entertainment ranking: 23. Look for the oft-hyped Giannis Antetokounmpo to make his first All-Star team this season. Unfortunately, his supporting cast doesn’t really accentuate his strengths, and losing Khris Middleton to injury only made it worse. — Ben Golliver
Preseason power ranking: 22. No Middleton stings, but there’s plenty of promise. This just doesn’t feel like the year everything works. — Jeremy Woo
One number: 18.9. Giannis Antetokounmpo was the talk of the NBA after the All-Star break. That’s when Jason Kidd moved him to point guard, where at 6' 11", he averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.9 blocks. (In September, he signed a four-year, $100 million contract.)
But if the Greek Freak is officially the team’s cornerstone, then 2014 No. 2 pick Jabari Parker showed he is a substantial building block. As he recovered from a left-ACL injury that cut his rookie season short, the 6' 8" forward also blossomed after the All-Star break: Parker lifted his average from 11.3 points to 18.9, giving Milwaukee a legitimate offensive threat on the wing.
Parker’s scoring spiked as his stroke became more reliable. As he continues to build his game out to the perimeter, he can become an übersmooth throwback scorer next to the Bucks’ futuristic point forward.
Milwaukee will struggle without the shooting of Khris Middleton, who is out until at least the All-Star break with a torn left hamstring. Making the playoffs will be tricky. Antetokounmpo will undoubtedly be a bright spot, and if Parker can grow alongside him, it won’t matter that the present is complicated. The future is bright. — Andrew Sharp
Scouting report: It is very unfortunate for them that Khris Middleton got hurt [out at least five months with a torn left hamstring]. I don’t know if he’s as good as some of the advanced metrics rate him, but what is clear is that the Bucks are terrible when he’s not on the floor—nowhere near a competent NBA team. . . . Hot take for you: Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to average, like, 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and make the All-Star Game. And the team’s gonna stink. . . . The Michael Carter-Williams situation is obviously a disaster. He still can’t shoot; he needs the ball. In a lot of ways he is just a very poor man’s Giannis, this tall guy who wants to dribble. And when Giannis is your franchise player, uh, that’s not very -useful. . . . Jabari Parker can’t shoot threes, and neither can Giannis, and it’s really hard to play with more than two guys who can’t. So, if they’re gonna play Giannis and Jabari, they should use Mirza Teletovic as a de facto center, since he can shoot threes, and he’s kind of strong. . . . But it’ll be hard for them to do that lineup because they have, literally, $40 million per season tied up in [centers] Greg Monroe, Miles Plumlee and John Henson. Are you really going to sit all three of those guys? . . . [First-round pick] Thon Maker plays really hard, he’s pretty mobile, but he has very little feel for the game and poor strength. He can’t make shots at game speed yet. I hope they’re not expecting him to play. . . . It’s hard to figure out how the team makes sense as currently constructed. Jason Kidd’s had a lot of influence in personnel moves, and I don’t think that’s been a good thing.
Bottom line: A return to the playoffs is likely a year away. But what a fun year it will be.