Since winning 52 games and advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001, the Milwaukee Bucks have been a model of mediocrity. They’ve finished with a winning record just twice in that span and haven’t won more than 46 games in a season. They hit an all-time low three seasons ago with a franchise-worst win total, then rebounded with a .500 record the next year.
The expectations heading into last season may have been over-hyped. After all, the Bucks were just two years removed from that 15-win season and a playoff berth in 2014-15 was a false reality. A decline to 33 wins last year was evidence of that. But the master plan has never changed, the Bucks have loaded up on young talent, and we could expect more from 2014 first-rounder Jabari Parker.
2015-16 Record: 33-49 SU, 38-43-1 ATS, 40-42 O/U
NBA Championship Odds: +10000
Depending on how you look at it, the Bucks either underachieved last season or they overachieved the previous year. Either way, they weren’t where many people thought they would be when the season began. The biggest difference was the decline of their defense. They fell to 23rd in defensive rating after ranking fourth the year before, and the win total went with it.
What may have led to the decline was swapping the combination of Zaza Pachulia, Larry Sanders and Jared Dudley, for Greg Monroe, Miles Plumlee and Jabari Parker, who all played poor defensively last season. In addition, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton had worse defensive seasons. Monroe was blamed for much of the decline, but it really was a team effort.
Like most teams, the Bucks had to deal with injuries. And lacking a strong bench, they suffered, especially in the backcourt. Michael Carter-Williams, O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless, who were all projected to be in the rotation, missed significant amounts of time. John Henson and Plumlee, the main backup big men, both missed time as well.
One benefit of the backcourt injuries was the play of Antetokounmpo as a weapon at point guard. Late in the year, after auditioning several players at the position, the Bucks started putting the ball in his hands and letting him go to work. The results were mixed, with Antetokounmpo having several triple-doubles, but the team continued to struggle putting points on the scoreboard.
The outlook remains positive for the Bucks, who are going about their franchise rebuild the right way. They avoided the temptation of trading assets for big-time stars just for the sake of them being stars. The Bucks have constructed a roster that is well-rounded and now has some depth to it. The key pieces are all under 25 years old and should grow into a playoff contender in the next few years.
There’s nothing glamorous about adding Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic to the roster. Bringing back Plumlee with a questionable deal wasn’t a news flash transaction. But the moves are designed to help out the makeup of the current roster with the potential to pay off from a financial standpoint.
At the top of the offseason to-do list was finding some shooting. Last year, the Bucks ranked dead last in three-pointers attempted and in the bottom third of three-point percentage. With the penetrating Antetokounmpo and the slashing Parker set to lead the attack for years to come, shooting nearly everywhere else on the roster was an absolute necessity.
The acquisitions of Dellavedova and Teletovic should address that void. The Bucks also shocked everyone on draft night by selecting power forward/center Thon Maker. The Bucks are a long, athletic team that should excel on defense. Scoring will still be somewhat of a struggle, but young players such as Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Parker should grow more confident as they gain more experience.
Trudging through a disappointing second season under coach Jason Kidd, the Bucks did at least seem to find a direction. With budding superstar Antetokounmpo ready to run the offense and a balanced inside/outside game with Parker and Monroe, Milwaukee needed to add some complementary pieces. And they seemingly did that.
|Milwaukee Bucks Regular Season Basketball Schedule|
|Wed, Oct 28||Milwaukee Bucks vs NY Knicks||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Oct 30||Milwaukee Bucks vs Washington||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Nov 1||Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto||6:00 PM|
|Mon, Nov 2||Milwaukee Bucks @ Brooklyn||7:30 PM|
|Wed, Nov 4||Milwaukee Bucks vs Philadelphia||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Nov 6||Milwaukee Bucks @ NY Knicks||7:30 PM|
|Sat, Nov 7||Milwaukee Bucks vs Brooklyn||8:30 PM|
|Tue, Nov 10||Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Nov 11||Milwaukee Bucks @ Denver||9:00 PM|
|Sat, Nov 14||Milwaukee Bucks vs Cleveland||8:30 PM|
|Tue, Nov 17||Milwaukee Bucks @ Washington||7:00 PM|
|Thu, Nov 19||Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Nov 21||Milwaukee Bucks @ Indiana||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Nov 23||Milwaukee Bucks vs Detroit||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Nov 25||Milwaukee Bucks vs Sacramento||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Nov 27||Milwaukee Bucks @ Orlando||7:00 PM|
|Sun, Nov 29||Milwaukee Bucks @ Charlotte||2:00 PM|
|Mon, Nov 30||Milwaukee Bucks vs Denver||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Dec 2||Milwaukee Bucks @ San Antonio||8:30 PM|
|Fri, Dec 4||Milwaukee Bucks @ Detroit||7:30 PM|
|Sat, Dec 5||Milwaukee Bucks vs NY Knicks||8:30 PM|
|Mon, Dec 7||Milwaukee Bucks vs Portland||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Dec 9||Milwaukee Bucks vs Los Angeles||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Dec 11||Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto||7:30 PM|
|Sat, Dec 12||Milwaukee Bucks vs Golden State||8:30 PM|
|Tue, Dec 15||Milwaukee Bucks @ Los Angeles||10:30 PM|
|Wed, Dec 16||Milwaukee Bucks @ Los Angeles||10:30 PM|
|Fri, Dec 18||Milwaukee Bucks @ Golden State||10:30 PM|
|Sun, Dec 20||Milwaukee Bucks @ Phoenix||5:00 PM|
|Wed, Dec 23||Milwaukee Bucks vs Philadelphia||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Dec 26||Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto||5:00 PM|
|Mon, Dec 28||Milwaukee Bucks @ Dallas||8:30 PM|
|Tue, Dec 29||Milwaukee Bucks @ Oklahoma City||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Dec 31||Milwaukee Bucks @ Indiana||6:00 PM|
|Sat, Jan 2||Milwaukee Bucks @ Minnesota||8:00 PM|
|Mon, Jan 4||Milwaukee Bucks vs San Antonio||8:00 PM|
|Tue, Jan 5||Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 8||Milwaukee Bucks vs Dallas||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Jan 10||Milwaukee Bucks @ NY Knicks||7:30 PM|
|Tue, Jan 12||Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Jan 13||Milwaukee Bucks @ Washington||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 15||Milwaukee Bucks vs Atlanta||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Jan 16||Milwaukee Bucks @ Charlotte||7:00 PM|
|Tue, Jan 19||Milwaukee Bucks @ Miami||7:30 PM|
|Fri, Jan 22||Milwaukee Bucks @ Houston||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Jan 23||Milwaukee Bucks @ New Orleans||7:00 PM|
|Tue, Jan 26||Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Jan 28||Milwaukee Bucks @ Memphis||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 29||Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami||8:00 PM|
|Mon, Feb 1||Milwaukee Bucks @ Sacramento||10:00 PM|
|Tue, Feb 2||Milwaukee Bucks @ Portland||10:00 PM|
|Fri, Feb 5||Milwaukee Bucks @ Utah||9:00 PM|
|Tue, Feb 9||Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Feb 11||Milwaukee Bucks vs Washington||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Feb 19||Milwaukee Bucks vs Charlotte||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Feb 20||Milwaukee Bucks @ Atlanta||7:30 PM|
|Mon, Feb 22||Milwaukee Bucks vs Los Angeles||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Feb 25||Milwaukee Bucks @ Boston||7:30 PM|
|Sat, Feb 27||Milwaukee Bucks vs Detroit||8:30 PM|
|Mon, Feb 29||Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Mar 2||Milwaukee Bucks vs Indiana||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Mar 4||Milwaukee Bucks vs Minnesota||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Mar 6||Milwaukee Bucks vs Oklahoma City||3:30 PM|
|Mon, Mar 7||Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Mar 9||Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Mar 12||Milwaukee Bucks vs New Orleans||7:30 PM|
|Sun, Mar 13||Milwaukee Bucks @ Brooklyn||8:00 PM|
|Tue, Mar 15||Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Mar 17||Milwaukee Bucks vs Memphis||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Mar 20||Milwaukee Bucks vs Utah||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Mar 21||Milwaukee Bucks @ Detroit||7:30 PM|
|Wed, Mar 23||Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Mar 25||Milwaukee Bucks @ Atlanta||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Mar 26||Milwaukee Bucks vs Charlotte||8:30 PM|
|Wed, Mar 30||Milwaukee Bucks vs Phoenix||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Apr 1||Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Apr 3||Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago||7:00 PM|
|Tue, Apr 5||Milwaukee Bucks vs Cleveland||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Apr 8||Milwaukee Bucks @ Boston||7:30 PM|
|Sun, Apr 10||Milwaukee Bucks @ Philadelphia||5:00 PM|
|Mon, Apr 11||Milwaukee Bucks @ Orlando||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Apr 13||Milwaukee Bucks vs Indiana||8:00 PM|
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