The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t been the regular-season juggernaut they were the past two years. But there are still more than enough reasons they could finally win it all.
The past two seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks steamrolled the Eastern Conference — winning better than 70 percent of their games, holding down the No. 1 seed and finishing with the best defensive efficiency in the league and offensive marks in the top-8. This season they have been decidedly … not that.
They’ve won at a pace that would equate to 52 wins across an 82-game season (.638 win percentage) and are likely to finish with the No. 3 seed in the East. Their offense has improved with an efficiency that still ranks No. 5 in the league but their defense has fallen from first to eighth. But every team is struggling with new norms this season and there are plenty of reasons to think the Bucks could pull together a deep playoff run. Here are five reasons they could take it all the way to a title.
5. The Milwaukee Bucks still have the depth to win an NBA Championship
Three of the Bucks’ eight most-played players from last season — Wesley Matthews, Eric Bledsoe, George Hill — are no longer on the roster, moved as part of the machinations that landed Jrue Holiday. But Milwaukee didn’t just trade a handful of solid players for one very good one. They also acquired several useful vets to fill their places and have benefited from internal development as well.
Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes have been solid role players and while they can leave much to be desired on defense, they’re shooting a combined 45.5 percent on 7.3 3-point attempts from beyond the arc. P.J. Tucker has brought veteran experience and defensive versatility to the frontcourt and Donta DiVincenzo has taken a major step forward, working as a capable defender, shooter and complementary creator around the Bucks’ big 3. Between Giannis, Holiday and Khris Middleton the Bucks’ have the high-end talent to match up with anyone but they also have the depth to share the load.