The Milwaukee Bucks are not elite. They are not contenders. They don’t even have a winning record. But what they have is a young nucleus, a young coach and, for once, bright prospects. In fact, the Buck’s core is so young that oldest player under contract for next season is just 25 years old. What the Bucks are though, is future-proof.
Future-proofing your squad is essential. Championship windows are brief and teams that look like powerhouses can quickly become obsolete. Front offices are becoming smarter and smarter in the way they structure contracts, scout players and implement analytics into their training regimes and game strategies.
There is a belief that market size no longer matters in the NBA. With the salary cap, revenue sharing and modern technology creating new, global endorsement opportunities for players (think Damian Lillard), a franchise’s location is becoming less of a factor for prospective players. This is great news for the Bucks who, despite having the fifth smallest market in the league, are looking more and more like an attractive free agent destination.
Greg Monroe’s arrival as a free agent last summer was one of the most surprising moves in recent memory. It broke an unspoken barrier - someone actually chose to go to Wisconsin! Even after being pursued by one of the biggest brands in the world, the New York Knicks.
In spite of averages of 15.8ppg and 9.4rpg, in many eyes, Monroe’s has not had the impact expected. But don’t forget that Monroe is still young – and what better home for a man whose nickname is Moose than the land of the Deer?
Since Monroe’s arrival there have been rumblings of other players interested in joining, most recently from Dwight Howard’s camp before the recent trade deadline. Hearing this must give the Bucks some confidence that they can attract another big name in this year’s free agency.
With close to $30 million in cap room this summer, Milwaukee will have room for at least one max salary guy to add to their young squad – but please, please don’t let it be Dwight.
Own The Future
With Jason Kidd, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and Monroe all aboard, a re-brand last summer and a new arena on the cards, it’s no surprise that the Bucks’ tagline is “Own the Future”. Any new additions will join the existing core who, with their length and versatility, appear to be perfectly designed to negate small ball - when your best ball handler is the same height as your three dominant post players, switching to defend pick rolls becomes a little easier.
Whilst the existing squad wait for the front office to make the necessary moves to elevate them to the next level, the current situation provides the perfect circumstances to allow The Greek Freak and Parker to get their reps in.
They can make mistakes and learn how to succeed without the pressure and expectations of competing for a title right now. If the pair get anywhere close to their potential ceilings, they will form one of the most formidable one-two punches in the league.
Which brings me back to this. The Milwaukee Bucks are not elite. They are not contenders. They don’t even have a winning record. I just need to add, yet. The Bucks own the future. Just wait for the proof.