Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker

The Milwaukee Bucks peaked too soon, and then disappointed. This year, ownership won’t be as forgiving on Jason Kidd if he fails to the take them into the playoffs, this time going with Giannis Antetokounmpo as his point-forward man from the get go, hoping that Jabari Parker turns into the star scorer they all think he can do on a consistent level.

A year after going 41-41 and giving the Chicago Bulls a lot of problems in the first round of the postseason, the Bucks won only 33 games, dealing with injuries to starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams, which eventually forced them to do what they should have done right from the start (make Giannis the point guard), generally getting very little from their backcourt and the disappointing signing of Greg Monroe, which led the Bucks to try and trade someone who didn’t fit their mold in the first place.

But there’s great optimism in Milwaukee about this team. Not just because of the key players’ age, but also because of the second half of the season. Parker, who missed most of his rookie year with an injury, needed more than half the season to find his rhythm, and in the final 29 games of the season averaged 18.8 points on 50.1% shooting from the field. The Bucks need better rebounding and defense from him, but he’s closer to what they want him to be.

Khris Middleton is 25. Giannis is 21. Parker is 21. Monroe, who the Bucks hope can become a bit more in-tune with what they’re trying to do while looking for good trade offers, is only 26. The Bucks drafted Thon Maker, who no one knows quite how old he is, and Malcolm Brogdon. They need them for more long arms and defense, hoping that Brogdon brings what he learned from Tony Bennett in Virginia. Justin Anderson didn’t show a whole lot of offense during his rookie year with the Mavericks, but his defense helped the Mavericks make the playoffs.

The Bucks need to improve their shooting (21st in 3-point percentage) and the contribution out of their backcourt. They were ranked too low in both defensive and offensive ratings, with a pace that might need some picking up. With Antetokounmpo now in full control of this offense, the offense and pace should pick up, but making this defense as good as it was in Kidd’s first year as head coach of this team might be the key to getting this project up & running in the right direction.

Matthew Dellavedova joining the team probably boosts their point guard situation, although he’s been a backup for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A solid Olympics tournament from the Australian play makers, who fits in well with the Bucks defensive approach, and maybe bringing in some championship-winning mentality and experience that a young team like this could need.

Best Case Scenario

Playoffs, preferably past the first round (Bucks haven’t won a playoff series since 2001). Maker, 33, or 19, becomes a valuable big man to rely on, Brogdon does more than most second round picks, Parker continues his second half surge while becoming more of a threat from the outside, Middleton keeps doing what he does very well, and above all Giannis repays the faith given in him as a triple double machine that becomes one of the best two-way players in the NBA.

Worst Case Scenario

Not just missing the playoffs, but not developing their young players a bit more. Trotting in the same spot is a disaster for anyone involved, and usually makes ownerships trigger-happy when it comes to firing decision makers, and quite loose when it comes to overhauling the roster, quickly losing patience with being unable to win.

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