[In the 30 days leading up to the season opener, we'll preview all 30 NBA teams, from Tanking Teams to Lottery Leaders to Warriors Wannabes. Tanking Teams are fighting for the No. 1 pick. Lottery Leaders could make the playoffs, or they could land in the lottery. Warriors Wannabes are title contenders. Then there are the Warriors in a league by themselves. Team 10 in our preseason rankings is the Milwaukee Bucks. Check back every day for previews of every team in the NBA followed by our complete preseason rankings.]
Key Losses: Jabari Parker, Brandon Jennings, Jason Terry, Mirza Teletovic. The Bucks lose a pair of veteran guards with Terry and Jennings, and a solid stretch wing in Teletovic, but the real loss is Parker. He never reached the lofty expectations of being the second-overall pick, but much of that was due to injuries. When Parker was healthy, he brought a scoring dynamic to this team that simply couldn't be replaced. He may have had the lowest points per game average since his rookie year (12.6), but that does not justify his ability to create and score from behind the arc. Parker won't be missed defensively, but the Bucks will have to find another option aside from their main scoring threats.
Key Returns: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shabazz Muhammad, Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Thon Maker, Malcolm Brogdon, John Henson. Muhammad is the only player who had a chance of leaving Milwaukee behind, but they actually brought him back earlier last month. His focus will be as a scorer off the bench, something he did well in spurts last season.
Giannis pulling up from deep now? pic.twitter.com/IWilYL4a6U— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) October 4, 2018
Key Additions: Brook Lopez, Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova. Milwaukee did an excellent job of addressing their needs this offseason. What they needed was explosiveness, forward depth, and an option at center -- they accomplished all of the above. The Bucks can't rely on Maker and Henson solely, but they'll have Ilyasova now to help out. He's not a slashing threat and is an average defender, but his ability to knock down open shots will help bail out the slew of creators the Bucks have.
Lopez is a gem of an addition, signing a cheap deal while providing the offensive help this team needs. With Lopez, the Bucks don't have to move Giannis to the five as often since he's a decent rim-protector and can benefit from his ability to knock down the open shot. He won't clog the middle of the lane, freeing up space for Giannis to attack the rim early and often.
Lopez may not be the exciting move to boost this team to a contender, but the Bucks did move the needle by adding DiVincenzo. He's a good defender who can control the ball on offense and, as you may remember from his performance in the National Championship
X-Factor: Khris Middleton. Antetokounmpo is as dynamic as it gets in the league, but he can't do it on his own. Middleton finally emerged as the elite scorer he was perceived to be, averaging over 20 points per game for the first time of his career.
Middleton's presence was most notable in the postseason as his near 25 points per game helped push the series against a much better Celtics team to seven games. The shocking part about his season was that it happened without being elite from behind the arc. Middleton's production last year was fantastic, but he's going to have to shoot better than 35 percent from three if he's going to truly become a threat.
Khris Middleton to increase 3-point attempts https://t.co/fzVi0BSr5n— Rotoworld Basketball (@Rotoworld_BK) September 27, 2018
Betting Odds: The Bucks over/under on team win totals is 47.5 and their odds to win the NBA championship currently sit at +10000.
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