MILWAUKEE! Make some noise for the defending champs. Nobody expected Brooklyn to lose in round two after going up 2-0 in dominant fashion against the Bucks. But that’s what happened, and nobody else was able to take them to seven games, as they won the ECF and NBA Finals in the famed six games.
The roster will look a little different, but they are back to try and defend their title.
To Win Finals: +900
To Win East: +425
To Win Central: -1000
Big Three is Locked Up
The most important thing in Milwaukee is that they have all three of their best players locked into long-term contracts. They extended Jrue Holiday during last season. Khris Middleton has already inked his deal. And Giannis is going to making oh so many dollars in the years that follow.
All of them played exceptionally well when everything was on the line. It’s the biggest reason for the title a season ago and also why they will remain a title contender for the entire length of time they remain together. Every move made a season ago paid off, literally all of them.
And now, coming into a new season, the important thing is to not get too high or too low during the regular season. Look for Giannis to put another MVP-caliber year up while Jrue and Khris fill in all the other areas. Plus, Mike Budenholzer got his contract re-upped for three years, giving him job security again.
They Will Miss PJ
The most underrated part of last year’s title for the Bucks was PJ Tucker. They acquired him from Houston, and he played exceptional defense all postseason long. The effort he gave on Kevin Durant in the second round made it worth all the while, and he was just everywhere the team needed him to be.
He’s gone, having signed for more money in Miami than the Bucks could have paid him to stick around and run it back. Semi Ojeleye and Jordan Nwora could get some of those minutes. The eventual return of Donte DiVincenzo will likely have Giannis back as the regular starting power forward.
They brought George Hill back on a two-year deal after he spent a little time with OKC and Philly. They acquired Grayson Allen in a trade with Memphis, which will certainly give them another good shooter to replace Bryn Forbes.
And signing Rodney Hood gives them a nice solid veteran piece who can play some decent spot minutes as requested.
At the end of the day, PJ Tucker is not the largest reason that the team won the title. Though if you remove his contributions, the road to Phoenix would have been extremely difficult. They will miss what he brings on the defensive end from the opening tip when they have to square off with the Nets.
But, they are good enough to contend for the ‘chip again regardless.
Just Stay Healthy
As long as the Bucks core players can remain on the floor and off the injured list for the duration of the season, there is no reason for them not to qualify for the Eastern Conference finals again. Beware.