As an enduring fan of the Milwaukee Bucks since the 1990-1991 season, I have witnessed some of the most mind-numbing draft picks in the history of modern-day sports. Don’t believe me? Google Marcus Haislip, Yi Jianilan or Joe Alexander, I’ll wait… What in the hell were they thinking, right? Unfortunately, those are only three of the many names I wished to add to my list. You could write a 500-page essay titled “What Not To On Draft Night, by The Milwaukee Bucks,” since the year 2000. The worst part is, I haven’t even started on the horrendous trade of all-star Ray Allen for 87-year old Gary Payton (okay, he was 34), or the ridiculous contracts offered to low tier players like Dan Gadzuric. It is no wonder my beloved Bucks have spent the last 16 years either missing the playoffs entirely or losing in round one. But the Milwaukee Bucks are destined to be in the NBA Playoffs this season.
Despite all that, I am here to tell you the 2017-2018 Milwaukee Bucks will finally make the leap and ultimately lose in the Eastern Conference Finals. For these Bucks are no longer a LeBron James doormat. With players like all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo, a healthy Khris “Khash Money” Middleton, Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, Tony “3’s and D” Snell and the energetic Thon Maker, the Bucks were already on their way out of the first round. Throw in a little mid-season addition of former second overall pick Jabari Parker and boom, we’re talking about an easy trip past the second round.
What really excites me is the recent NBA Draft and incoming rookies D.J. Wilson, Sterling Brown and Bronson Koenig (rookie free agent signing). Three young guys that many “experts” seem to have been overlooking. I believe each rookie will play a pivotal role during the season on the way to the Bucks playoff win.
Initially, I was a little hesitant to praise Michigan’s D.J. Wilson strictly off my implicit bias of being a Wisconsin Badgers fan. Yet, the more I read and watch this kid, the more I like the pick. He’s a 6’10 rangy stretch power forward with a 7’3 wingspan, that can handle the ball and shoot fairly well. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said of Wilson, “watching him on film, he really fits the DNA of the Bucks.” Kidd is correct, and the reality is, the Bucks are in the prime position to let Wilson develop and still produce wins.
The Bucks second pick of 2017, Sterling Brown, came via a trade with Philadelphia 76’ers. Brown is not the most athletic NBA Player, but he damn sure can shoot. The Bucks struggled all last season with the three-point shot, and that just so happens to be Brown’s specialty. Compile Brown’s shooting ability with his willingness to play perimeter defense, and the Bucks just added another Khris Middleton and Tony Snell. At 6’5, 225 pounds, I think Brown is actually more NBA ready than Wilson and should be a solid contributor for the Bucks in 2017-2018.
Perhaps the most exciting addition for me is the pick-up of Wisconsin Badgers all-time leading scorer, Bronson Koenig. Koenig brings a utility belt filled with tenacity, intelligence and a lights out shooting ability. The Wisconsin native also has a knack for hitting big shots in clutch time, which will certainly go well with home state Bucks fans. Just like Brown, however, Koenig does lack athletic prowess. But hey, with guys like Giannis on the team, shooters can stay shooting. Assuming Koenig makes the active roster which I say he will, I expect him to bring an all-out effort each time he steps on the court. With all due respect to Mr. Chauncey Billups, I say Koenig is the next “Mr. Big Shot.” I could be way off on Koenig and I don’t care. After all, Wisconsinites have to stick together. With guys like Wilson, Brown and Koenig, the Milwaukee Bucks 16 year dip in basketball purgatory ends this season, and I can finally thank a solid draft for that.
Now, I understand that the Bucks are a young team and I should not be placing expectations of Eastern Conference Finals appearances on the addition of three guys who were in high school four years ago. It would be fair to criticize my analysis of each player and claim bias due to my love of all things Bucks basketball. I cannot argue against any of it, but I will say to you, “FEAR THE DEER.”
The Milwaukee Bucks are a force and it is time for the league to take notice. The excellent young core, lead by future MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, mixed with the addition of three excellent young rookies, guarantees the Milwaukee Bucks will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. You have heard it here first.