It is no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks have gone all-in on Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The front office put together a number of pieces to fit around the 24-year-old, not to mention signing his older brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo. And why shouldn’t they?
In Giannis’ short career he has averaged more than 25 points and ten rebounds in his last two seasons while also winning MVP. As a result, Giannis has put the Bucks’ franchise on his back and carried them to relevancy.
The Bucks’ last championship was in 1971. Their last deep playoff run prior to 2018-19 was in the 2000-01 season. Bucks fans have a lot to be excited about, however, there is still much to be done. Last season Giannis and the Bucks were three games away from the NBA finals, succumbing only to the extremely talented Raptors spearheaded by the Klaw.
This season will be different. Kawhi has left for the Western Conference, which leaves the Eastern Conference championship race wide open.
The Bucks are poised to again reach the Eastern Conference finals, most likely with a match-up against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks are the forerunners for the open East, which begs the question; can Giannis do it?
As it stands, Bucks have lost key pieces in Malcolm Brogdon, Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, significant contributors to the Bucks’ success last season. In return, the Bucks have added Kyle Korver, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez. All nice players, however, it begs the question; can they contribute as much or more than those who have left?
The Bucks cannot fall into the trap of relying too heavily on Giannis’ development. General manager Jon Horst needs to ensure that they surround Giannis with the right players, however losing a player like Malcolm Brogdon may be enough to derail their ambition to win the East.
There is always the chance that the young Bucks players such as DJ Wilson, Sterling Brown or Dragan Bender may have a breakout season, however as it stands the Bucks are weakened without the presence of Brogdon among their ranks.
The re-signing of Khris Middleton and the retention of much of their core from last season will allow the team to develop and improve on their chemistry. This may not be enough, however, one thing that is certain is that the Bucks’ success this season depends on two things: firstly on Giannis, the second on the pieces around him.
If the pieces they put around Giannis prove effective, and he continues his superstar development, we may be looking at a new championship team in the east.