Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NBA season. This team-by-team preview details why it’s probably not your favorite team’s year. Now: Let’s discuss the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t made it past the first round since 2001. They had the honor of getting swept by the Miami Heat in last year’s playoffs, and they’ll be lucky to make it that far this year.
But you know all of this. The Bucks are obviously screwed. But in a conference that has four teams tanking, they’re right above this tier, in the tier of teams that aren’t nearly as bad as you think, but that’s only because the Eastern Conference is ridiculously top-heavy and should probably contract half of its teams.
The Bucks were the No. 8 seed last year, and they might be better this year! They got rid of their biggest-name player in Brandon Jennings, but their additions probably cancel out their subtractions, and then some. You would think this implies that this year will be good. It does not.
Check out this graphic from Bill Simmons’ and Jalen Rose’s Bucks preview on Grantland, in which Simmons was weirdly optimistic, giving the Bucks a good shot at the No. 7 seed and even mentioning something ridiculous about passing the Knicks for No. 6.
I think they’re better this year.
But the issue is that a lot of teams behind the Bucks last year — the Wizards, Pistons, Cavs and Raptors — are likely all going to be much better this year, all with a good shot of passing even an improved Milwaukee team.
There are clear tiers in the Eastern Conference, and it doesn’t matter how much better the Bucks are, they’re not jumping tiers.
1. Miami Heat
The Outside Shot Of Beating The Heat If Really Lucky
2-4. Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers
The Outside Shot Of Leaping A Tier, Especially If They Hit Lots Of Outside Shots
5. New York Knicks
The Favorites To Make The Playoffs And Lose In The First Round
6-9. Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards
A First-Round Exit Is Possible If They Exceed Expectations
10-11. Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks
They’re Sort Of Tanking But Stranger Things Have Happened
12. Boston Celtics
13-15. Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Bobcats
On that note, here are my Definitive Bucks Power Rankings.
1. One-Million Bucks
2. Buck Showalter
3. Buckingham Palce
4. Bucking Trends
5. One-Hundred Bucks
6. Milwaukee Bucks
8. Joe Buck
9. Twenty Bucks
9,986. Greg Schiano
Could the Bucks make the playoffs? Sure. So could the Bucs, mathematically speaking. But Milwaukee will have to significantly exceed expectations to do so. Here’s their over/under win total set by oddsmakers.
28.5 wins would be 9.5 wins worse than last year (if half-wins were possible!), and people are betting on the under. This is bad news. Could it be wrong? Yes. But I think it’s pretty fair.
Five Facts About Giannis Antetokounmpo, “The Greek Freak”
1. People freaked out when some other people called him a 6’9″ point guard, but he’s not expected to play point guard.
2. He played for the Greek club Filathlitikos AO, which I am pronouncing as Filthy-akos.
3. He was born in 1994.
4. He’ll make $1.793 million this year.
5. He is 6’9″ with a 7’3″ wingspan and these are his hands. Meet him. Shake them.
Actual Season Prediction: 30-52: 12th in Eastern Conference.