Three Big Questions for the Rest of the Bucks Season

The NBA season is at it’s midway point, and real conclusions can be drawn from what we’ve seen thus far. Here are three big questions that must be asked about the rest of the Bucks season.

Question One: Will the Bucks make another trade?

The Bucks, at 29-12, are second in the Eastern Conference standings – and in the entire NBA. Moreover, they lead the entire NBA in Net Rating by a massive margin with a +8.9, as they boast the 4th best offense and 3rd best defense in the entire NBA. They have a coach of the year candidate, an MVP candidate, and a relatively deep roster. So, they’re all set for the rest of the season, right?

Well, one can look at the Bucks’ success in one of two ways. The first is that because they’re so good, they shouldn’t shake things up, and keep the roster intact for the remainder of the season, or maybe make some light tweaks. The second line of thinking is that because the Bucks are a significant force already, one more move (or multiple, really) could thrust them firmly from “Eastern Conference contender” to “Eastern Conference favorite”. That same depth of roster which has been so useful could be bundled together for an upgrade or two talent-wise, leading to a boost in high-end talent which is so important come playoff time.

Whether a needle-shifting trade is out there is another question. The NBA trade mill has been very quiet of late, especially in terms of big names. But there are always moves to be made, and I think at the very least, a couple of upgrades on the margins could be made in the buyout market or at the deadline. Perhaps Dewayne Dedmon for one of the Bucks’ young guys and a 2nd round pick could shore up the center position? Or maybe Terrence Ross could be had as a bench scorer and another shooter around Giannis? Options are out there, even if they aren’t as glamorous as one might hope.

Question Two: Can their young guys (Wilson, Brown, DiVincenzo) hold up in the playoffs against good teams?

On a related note, the Bucks’ young cadre of prospects have played relatively big roles this season. Thon Maker and DJ Wilson have largely held down the backup center spot since John Henson was traded, and Donte DiVincenzo and Sterling Brown have received significant minutes as reserve wings. DiVincenzo is a rookie, while Wilson barely played last year, and Brown was cut out of the Bucks’ playoff rotation a season ago. If the Bucks don’t make a trade, that means they think those youngsters can step up when counted upon the postseason. All four have provided solid minutes at various points this year, with Brown being the most consistently positive presence, but the playoffs are a whole different story. The play of the young guys over the next month before the deadline could make all the difference to whether a trade for a rotation guy is made or not.

Question Three: Can Giannis take another step?

While Giannis has not made much progress as a three-point shooter, he’s made significant strides in several other areas this season. In particular, he’s improved significantly as a one-on-one threat, as a playmaker, and as a perimeter defender. His leap as a ball-handler has helped him blow by people in isolation, creating opportunities for him to score as well as opening up passes to the perimeter for teammates to knock down easy threes. As a defender, coach Bud’s schemes have unlocked Giannis as a menace in help defense and as a threat to jump passing lanes, with his length and athleticism posing him as a formidable threat to opposing offenses.

Category Giannis Antetokounmpo – 2018-19 Giannis Antetokounmpo – 2017-18
Perimeter Shooting F 2.3% F 10.4%
Off-Ball Movement B 71.9% A- 84.7%
One on One A 90.3% B+ 76.6%
Finishing A 99.9% A 99.9%
Roll Gravity A 99.5% A 98.5%
Playmaking A 97.8% B 67.2%
Post Play A 90.5% A 92.4%
Perimeter Defense A- 86.1% B 67.2%
Interior Defense A 99.0% A 99.9%
Offensive Rebounding A 93.1% A 94.1%
Defensive Rebounding A 99.7% A 99.3%
Among: Wings, >500 MP – 785 Players

Giannis is a superstar in every sense of the word. He’s an MVP candidate, a defensive player of the year candidate, and is the most valuable asset in the NBA. However, there’s still more room for him to improve. That outside shot (16.7% from deep on 2.4 attempts per game) remains a weakness, as does his propensity for turnovers (4.1 a game, 16.2% rate). If Giannis can become even a respectable shooter from deep (~33% on a few attempts per game) and cut down on turnovers just a bit, he will be truly unstoppable.

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