Guard Matthew Dellavedova is one of six new Bucks players.
The Milwaukee Bucks lost two of their first three games by a combined 26 points — and came within one basket of starting the season 0-3. But it’s way too early to panic.
Major media outlets are predicting a solid but not playoff-contending season for the young team, but remember, the NBA’s 82-game regular season stretches into April. And the team is generating interest.
For the second straight year, the team held part of its training camp on the UW-Madison campus and played a preseason game at the Kohl Center. Almost 11,000 people showed up on Oct. 8 to watch Milwaukee beat the Dallas Mavericks, 88-74.
“It means a lot to us,” Bucks general manager John Hammond told the Wisconsin State Journal about the importance of establishing firmer roots in the capital city. “We’re a small-market team, and as a small-market team it’s important to have a fan base that extends beyond the city of Milwaukee...and particularly to Madison.”
The Bucks entered the 2016 season with six new players — including guard Matthew Dellavedova, acquired from the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers — but the core of this team remains 6-foot-11-inch Giannis Antetokounmpo. The so-called Greek Freak recently was named the NBA’s best international player in a survey of the league’s 30 general managers and finished second in the voting for most versatile player, behind none other than LeBron James.
Head coach Jason Kidd moved Antetokounmpo from forward to point guard after last season’s All-Star Game, and he ended the season averaging almost 17 points per game.
Milwaukee’s other big scoring threat? Jabari Parker, acquired by the Bucks as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Although injury-prone since his arrival in Brew City, Parker averaged 18.9 points per game during the second half of last season, and the Bucks responded by exercising Parker’s fourth-year contract option. (Under the terms of the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first-round draft pick’s contract are guaranteed, while the third and fourth years of the contract are the team’s option.)
Significantly, the Bucks will be without their leading scorer, Khris Middleton (18.2 ppg last season), who tore his left hamstring prior to training camp and could be out all season. Obviously, this team already is feeling the impact of his absence.