You’ve probably been told to temper your expectations for this year’s Milwaukee Bucks team. Zach Lowe wrote that they’ll miss the playoffs. NBA podcasters across the nation are taking the under on the 43.5 Vegas win total. They cite the loss of Zaza and Dudley as well as last season’s below average offense. There’s also a general sentiment that the east got better. In the company of healing superteams, we look worse by comparison.
I think people are sleeping on the Bucks. One detail I think people are sleeping on is rebound rate: the Bucks have been a bottom 10 team in rebound rate every year since 10/11. Giannis was a plus rebounder at SF last year. I expect him to take a small step forward this season.
He’s not the only player bringing rebounds to the table. Jabari Parker was a great rebounder in college and rebound rate is one of the most predictable translators to the NBA. Greg Monroe was 26th in defensive rebound rate despite sharing the floor with one of the most prolific rebounders in all of the NBA. I expect Monroe to improve his rate on both ends manning the pivot on his own. I think the Bucks make a small leap and become a league average rebounding team which will skyrocket them as a team.
I also think the Bucks 25th ranked offense could see a sizable bump. Chris Copeland is a prolific shooter and offensive player. Jabari Parker could be a 1 man offensive wrecking ball and our offense was better when he was playing. This could also be the Knight effect, but let’s not go there today. I think Giannis is going to get better offensively in terms of creation and shooting ability.
Michael Carter-Williams can only get better. If his shooting jumps to around 32-33% from 3 point land it will create space for Giannis to operate as well as Monroe. Which brings us to Monroe. He lead the league in points off post-ups last year and gives us a go to option on offense. He is also a gifted passer and should help our anemic offense make a sizable jump to around league average.
The defense likely will not be top two again. That was an impressive feat. Without the knowledge of Dudley and Zaza we will take a small step back. Our defense however is built upon a foundation of long wings. Monroe gets a horrible reputation as a defender because he doesn’t block shots, but Zaza was a terrific defensive center and he never left the ground. We also have one of the best defensive back up centers in the league in Henson. Our D should still be top 10 in Sweeney and Kidd’s system.
The Bucks might not make a large surge forward this year. They are young and a little unpredictable, but I don’t see them regressing like some NBA analysts might. I think our offense gets better and our defense stays solid. If we improve the rate of 3PAs, as well as our rebounding rate we will better. Each player has to pull their own and our young core will need everyone to grow, but that is entirely believable that both will happen.
Don’t sleep on the Milwaukee Bucks.