The next time you go to East Towne or West Towne mall, take a look at what people are wearing. You'll notice plenty of Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers sweatshirts and jackets, and probably even a few diehards (like me) donning a Milwaukee Brewers cap or T-shirt. But when was the last time you noticed someone wearing anything emblazoned with the Milwaukee Bucks name or logo?
That's because the Bucks suck. Or at least they used to suck more than they do now. Coming off the worst season in the franchise's 46-year history with a 15-67 record, hopes weren't too high for this season -- even with the acquisition of 19-year-old Duke forward Jabari Parker as the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
The team's new owners, Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, also traded second-round draft picks in 2015 and 2019 in exchange for Jason Kidd, a young, high-profile coach and a former five-time NBA All-Star. Yes, the Bucks traded players for a coach.
Kidd leads a young team full of potential, thanks to early-round draft picks (Giannis Antetokounmpo), free agency (O.J. Mayo), smart contract extensions (Larry Sanders) and intriguing trades like the one that sent Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons for Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton.
Milwaukee opened the season with a 108-106 overtime loss to the newly rechristened Hornets in Charlotte, but then went on two- and three-game winning streaks, punctuated by signature road wins against the Miami Heat and Kidd's old team, the Brooklyn Nets.
These victories appear to have changed the public conversation about this team. Otherwise trustworthy sources like SportingNews.com, The Los Angeles Times and BleacherReport.com are proclaiming the Bucks -- 7-7 as of Monday -- "must-watch TV" and "the surprise team in the NBA," adding that they're "flirting with playoff contention."
The season is unbearably long, and a lot can happen between now and April. But the NBA's playoff system allows 16 of the league's 30 teams to advance to the postseason. If the Bucks can keep playing at least .500 ball, all that might not be so far-fetched.