This is a year of growth for the Bucks. A central goal of the season is to find ourselves, to discover the ultimate purpose of our youth. We look to our core for guidance, but even the most informed Bucks fan still isn’t sure just who constitutes the Bucks’ core.
This summer Bucks GM John Hammond said he thought they had 6 core guys, one can only assume he meant the 5 starters (Carter-Williams, Middleton, Antetokounmpo, Parker, Monroe) and Henson, but what does core mean? Core in basketball terms is guys you try and build around for the foreseeable future. What was the Heat’s core when they made their 4 consecutive Finals runs? Some might say Wade, Bosh, and James. I’d argue that Haslem, Chalmers, and Battier were also essential for the way the team played. When you look at title contenders throughout the league most of them have multiple all stars. If you look at the 4 teams that made the conference finals last year every one of them had multiple rotation guys who had made all star games. Atlanta had Korver, Millsap, Horford, and Teague. Houston had Harden and Howard. Golden State had Iguodala, Curry and Thompson. Cleveland had Irving, Love, and James. We see that these teams had multiple all stars, but all of them also had role players who excelled in their roles the Demarre Carrols and Timofey Mozgovs of the world. The goal of this series will be to examine the Bucks prospective core and what they could become and how they are doing.
Let’s examine the two who form the foundation of the future:
Jabari Parker – Parker projects to be a major scorer in the NBA and he showed touches of that in his all too short debut. He had an efficient scoring rookie season netting him a respectable 12 points per game. For an offense that ranked 27th in the NBA the development of this skill could be a huge asset to their team. He was also 5th in the league in dunks when he got injured. Combined with Giannis who was also top ten in dunks for the year. Jabari showed flashes of better than expected passing and was a plus rebounder in college. What to look for this year: Jabari should make his debut some time in November. To take the next step he needs to show passable defense and a little more scoring approximately 15 points a game. Recent Games: DNP (Knee)
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Giannis is a league darling, but in general he is regarded as a could be not a going to be. Giannis rebounded well for his position and was an extremely good passer in the frontcourt. He also finished 64.6% of his shots within 3 feet which is where he took half his shots those are elite finishing statistics. He was also a lot more useful on defense and while his man defense could still use some work as a help defender he did an excellent job. What to look for this year: Giannis showing more creation skills and raising his assist percentage would make him a much better player. Also scoring more consistently would go a long way for him, his new and improved jumper should aid in that regard even if it is not quite a finished project. Recent Games: 1G 27 points, 9 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 steals, 6 fouls and 6 turnovers. Giannis showed extended flashes of what he could be against Washington Friday evening. He scored at will in the first half showing both new moves and improved older ones. Giannis cleaned the boards at an excellent rate as well continuing that trend from last season. He also had a handful of mental errors that cannot continue: He stepped out of bounds twice NBA stars cannot do this as frequently as Giannis does you have to know where your feet are at all times. He also has a a habit of getting called for dumb fouls: poking a pull up shooter, charging a clearly set defender, and getting entangled on the offensive end. There is always going to be bad and Friday the good far outweighed the bad, but it is important to minimize these mental lapses.
These two are the future of the franchise. Giannis has a shot at an All Star berth, which would be a big step for the often ignored franchise. The Bucks haven’t had an all star since Redd in 2004. Jabari’s late start and rust make it unlikely he will make it. The growth of these two is the most important thing this franchise has to accomplish this season. Hammond has put talent around them so they can succeed, but it is on them now. Kidd should feature Giannis in a lot more play calls this year and use him as a secondary creator on offense. The Bucks might never have a trio of perennial all stars, but they do have a promising core that could win a playoff series in the near future. The growth of these two will be a story line essential to the Bucks future success.