Giannis Antetokounmpo can reach MVP levels, but isn’t there yet

Milwaukee, WI | Giannis Antetokounmpo has had an outstanding start to his 2017-18 campaign for the Milwaukee Bucks There has been talk nationally and locally about where he ranks among the NBA’s best.

The supremely talented 6’11” Filathlitikos, Greece native is working his way into the upper-echelon of basketball players. It’s not crazy to think that he will find himself in the thick of the NBA MVP conversation when voting commences next spring.

Friday night the world was reminded just how far he has to go to be the best in the world, and LeBron James reminded the world that he’s still on that throne.

Midway through the final period of Friday night’s 116-97 Cleveland victory over Milwaukee James put an exclamation mark on that thought. Antetokounmpo had a one-on-one fast break opportunity with only James standing between him and the basket. Antetokounmpo stretched his incredibly long legs in an effort to go to the left side of James and lay the ball up and in the hoop and cut the Cavs’ lead to 10. James seemingly let Antetokounmpo glide past him and elevate the ball up near the glass.

The sports world has seen the ending to this story many times. James pinned Antetokounmpo’s layup attempt off the glass, in a block that the star has been able to repeat time and time again, most famously in the 2016 NBA Finals.

The sequence continued as the Cavaliers were able to recover the ball after James’ block. They brought the ball up the court before and moved it gracefully around the floor. That created confusion amongst Milwaukee’s defense, leaving a wide-open Cavalier at the top of the three-point arc.

The Cavalier was, you guessed it, James.

The missing member of the Bucks was Antetokounmpo.

James knocked down the wide-open three to push Cleveland’s lead to 15 with less than 6:30 to play.

Looking at the stat sheet from Friday night’s game will tell you that Antetokounmpo outplayed the four-time MVP. The eye test will tell you a different story. Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists on 15-of-22 shooting. James finished with 24 points, five rebounds, and eight assists on 10-of-16 from the floor.

The 22-year-old Antetokounmpo certainly can reach a level close to the one which James operates, however he isn’t there yet.

There’s no shame in that for Antetokounmpo, and there shouldn’t be. He knows he isn’t the player that James is at this point in his career, no one is.

“I am not on that level yet.” Antetokounmpo said following the loss. “LeBron James is one of the best players in the league and one of the best to ever play the game.”

Antetokounmpo’s statement does offer one key word, ‘yet’. If he can reach a level even slightly below James he will go down as one of the best players to ever touch a basketball. It’s a lofty goal, but it’s one that he should have.

Antetokounmpo has all the physical tools to be a legend in the NBA, the place where James is far past him is mentally. James has one of the highest basketball IQ’s to ever set foot on a basketball court, and that’s something Antetokounmpo needs to improve upon.

Moments where Antetokounmpo can be better include when he has mismatches on the offensive end and fails to take advantage of them. On Friday night there were multiple possessions in which he had Cavaliers’ center Tristan Thompson on him. Instead of attacking the less athletic big man, he deferred to his teammates. Those moments need to be where Antetokounmpo takes over, and eventually they will be.

Antetokounmpo has an extremely bright future, and one day can take the throne as the best basketball player alive from James, but Friday night reminded us how wide that gap still is.

Bucks lose home opener to Cavaliers 116-96

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks started their last season at the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a 116-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers despite a stellar night from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists but it wasn’t enough to supplant the Eastern Conference favorites. The Bucks hung with Cleveland in the first half, but were unable to keep up with Cleveland once their offense started to roll. LeBron James lead the Cavs with 24 points, five rebounds, and eight assists, but it was a total group effort from the Cavaliers, having six players in double figures scoring.

“One thing about Giannis [Antetokounmpo] is he never settles.” Cavs’ head coach Tyronn Lue said postgame. “He’s stronger than people give him credit for.”

The turning point in the game came in the third quarter. Antetokounmpo closed the gap to three points after he scored five straight points. The score was 71-68 Cavs. Over the next 90 seconds the deficit became 12 as Kyle Korver knocked down three consecutive shots from behind the arc. The Bucks were never able to recover following that stretch.

“We have a lot of respect for them.” Korver said following the game. “They’re a young team with a lot of talent.”

Another stretch that sealed the Bucks’ fate came in the fourth quarter, where Antetokounmpo had the opportunity to matchup with the player many hope he can be compared to one day, James.

Antetokounmpo had a fast break opportunity with James in the paint. James seemed to let Antetokounmpo stride by him before reacting at the last second and pinning the ball against the glass at one of the last moments possible. That’s a staple of James’ game that has been seen over and over since he has been in the league.

On the following possession, the Cavaliers’ ball movement created chaos for the Bucks. It was Antetokounmpo who seemed to lose his assignment which was James. James knocked down a wide-open three-pointer from the top of the arc as Antetokounmpo scrambled to contest the shot.

After the game, Antetokounmpo was asked about how he compares to James.

“I am not on that level yet. LeBron James is one of the best players in the league and one of the best to ever play the game. It’s great going against him, but I don’t think about that. I am just Giannis. I just try to do whatever it takes for my team to win.”

Friday showed that the Cavaliers are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have been tested early in their season, beating Boston on Wednesday night, and losing to Cleveland Friday.
The win over Boston was great for the Bucks. The game against Cleveland was a very early measuring stick for the two teams, and the Cavaliers, who are without all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas, are on a different level than the Bucks at the moment. Milwaukee has a long way to go if they’re going to compete with Cleveland in a seven-game series come May.

“I thought Giannis did a really great job trying to find open guys and also be aggressive.” Bucks’ head coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “It isn’t between him and LeBron, it’s the Cavs against the Bucks and unfortunately we lost tonight.”

Milwaukee is in action Saturday night against the Portland Trailblazers. Tip-off from BMO Harris Bradley Center is at 7:30.

Jabari in the second half of his rehab timetable

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is over halfway through his knee rehab recovery timetable since tearing his ACL on February 8th.

Parker is adamant that his rehab is going well and his knee is feeling good. He expects to return to the Bucks and be cleared for game action sometime in February of this up-coming season.

Parker raised his performance in almost every aspect last season before tearing his ACL for the second time in three seasons with the Bucks. In 51 games last year, he averaged 20.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game, all career highs.

He also raised his three-point shooting percentage by nearly 11%. The Bucks were hoping he was just starting to turn the corner to complement their other superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Parker will be entering his fourth season this year and will be eligible to sign a contract extension from his rookie-contract scale by the October 16th deadline. If he doesn’t sign an extension by the deadline, he will become a restricted free-agent in 2018.

Report: Bucks remain on the “fringes” of Kyrie trade

If the Boston-Cleveland trade falls through for Kyrie Irving, the Bucks are one of several teams who still might have a shot at the All-Star.

The trade hasn’t been completed due to the Cleveland Cavaliers questions over Isaiah Thomas and his hip injury. The Bucks were one of the handful of teams that would be vying for Irving according to a report by ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The Bucks have previously offered Malcolm Brogdon, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, and veteran Khris Middleton.

That trade was weighed heavily by the Cavaliers before  agreeing to terms with the Boston Celtics. According to Lowe, he believes if the Bucks threw in a future first round pick, that would ultimately get the deal done.

The Bucks are reluctant to throw in a first round pick, because they don’t believe Irving would likely sign long-term. Irving, 25, is entering the prime of his career and has two years left on his current contract.

Other teams in the mix if the deal doesn’t go through are the Denver Nuggets and the  Phoenix Suns

Mayo hopes to return to the Bucks

O.J. Mayo has came out publicly and said he would like to return to the Milwaukee Bucks after his two-year suspension from the NBA is over. He is serving a two-year ban due to violating the league’s drug policy.

His suspension will keep him out of the league once again this season, and he won’t be able to sign with any NBA team until July 1st, 2018.

Mayo, who will be 30, is asking for the Bucks to give him another chance and allow him to make up for the sub-par player he was before the suspension.

In his last season with the Bucks, he averaged 7.8 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game. Mayo cites the inability to play the game he loves for the change in his mindset and temperament. Since his 2015 season with the Bucks, he has gained some weight, and hasn’t been playing basketball.

Bucks to have Harley-Davidson logo on jersey next season

The Milwaukee Bucks and Harley-Davidson have agreed to a multi-year deal for the historic Harley-Davidson shield logo to be featured on the Bucks jerseys. The up-coming season (2017-18) is the first year the National Basketball Association (NBA) will permit teams to sell advertising sponsorship space to companies.

Both organizations are internationally known and also have deep Wisconsin roots. Through this partnership, both organizations are hoping to develop and expand their products to the highest levels of the market.

The Harley-Davidson shield logo will be located on the left side of the shoulder/chest and opposite of the Nike logo. New Milwaukee Bucks jerseys with the patch will be available at the Bucks Pro Shop.

Bucks officially re-sign Tony Snell

The Bucks have re-signed restricted free-agent shooting guard Tony Snell. The deal was thought to be done in early July, but has just become official. The terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but it should be in the neighborhood of 44 million over four years.

Snell had a career year with the Bucks last season. He was arguable the team’s best perimeter defender, and also shot 40.6% from behind the arc. Last season Snell averaged 8.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 29 minutes per game.

Snell, 25, is another young player the Bucks will hope to lean on for future success. Milwaukee acquired Snell last October from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for point guard Michael Carter-Williams.

Koenig and Hayes finish up their Summer League Schedule

Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes have officially finished up their individual Summer Leagues. Both Koenig and Hayes played in five games, the minimum number of guaranteed games in the Summer League format. Hayes and the New York Knicks participated in the Orlando Summer League while Koenig and the Milwaukee Bucks played in the Las Vegas Summer League. Both teams finished this summer with a 1-4 record.

Nigel Hayes

Hayes finished up his summer games much earlier than Koenig. The Orlando Summer League went from July 1st through July 6th. The Knicks struggled as a team overall, but Hayes played well enough to earn an invitation to the Knicks mini-camp. An invitation to the mini-camp is a good sign for Hayes, who still hopes to make the team.

Though his numbers might not show it, he played really well this summer. Hayes only averaged 15 minutes a game, but was still able to average 5.2 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. He also shot the ball 41.4%  from the field. Shooting was one area that Hayes has tried to work on in his latter seasons at Wisconsin in the hopes of making it in the NBA. What stood out more than anything were things that Hayes did that  doesn’t show up in the box score.

Hayes played really good defense and showed the ability to guard the three and the four position. He also showed good rebounding positioning and passing abilities. He hardly turned the ball over in the five games he played this summer. Like his time at Wisconsin, he showed that he could pass the ball well, especially in the paint. Hayes will start his rookie mini-camp in the next few weeks.

Bronson Koenig

Koenig and the Milwaukee Bucks finished up their Summer League action on Friday night with a loss to the Utah Jazz. Throughout the summer, Koenig showed that he can still shoot and hit big shots. That being said, Koenig did struggle at times for the Bucks. Koenig averaged 16 minutes a game, in which he averaged 5.2 points, 1 rebound, and no assists. He only shot 29% from the floor (10-34) and an even worse 26% (5-19) from behind the arc.

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Koenig really didn’t show off any of his passing skill for which he was known for coming out of high school. He didn’t have any assists in the five games he played. He was primarily used as a two guard coming off screens , but also played some point guard. Koenig seemed to struggle  guarding in the open floor especially against the pick and roll.

Koenig will need to show that he can play better defense this season in the G-League. He will also need toshoot the ball better than he did this summer. Five games is a small sample size especially when you aren’t getting consistent minutes.  Koenig signed a two-way contract with the Bucks, so he will be playing for the teams new G-League team, the Wisconsin Herd. He will also have the opportunity to potentially play for the Bucks during the upcoming season.

 

Bucks Summer League action kicks off tonight

The NBA draft has come and gone and NBA Summer Leagues are underway. The Milwaukee Bucks will start their Summer League season tonight at 5:30 CST against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the game can be seen on ESPN 2. The Bucks will play in the Las Vegas Summer League that goes from July 7th-17th. The Bucks have put together an interesting roster for this exhibition season.

Fans should recognize a number of players on the Bucks roster this summer. Thon Maker will be playing in his second Summer League after playing well down the stretch last season. Maker earned valuable minutes and showed great potential in the playoffs last season for the Bucks. He will be joined by Rashad Vaughn, who will be making his third appearance on the Milwaukee summer team. This should be a make or break season for Vaughn as his contract has a club option after this up-coming season. Vaughn was seen as a boom or bust talent after coming out of UNLV as a freshman and hasn’t had much impact in his first two seasons with the Bucks. Gary Payton II will also be playing for the Bucks this summer after being picked up towards the end of last season.

The Bucks will have first round pick from this years NBA draft  D.J. Wilson on the roster. The Michigan product should have plenty of opportunities to show Bucks fans why the organization may have reached to draft him. Milwaukee is also hoping to work out an entry for newest acquired Buck Sterling Brown. Brown’s rights were officially acquired by the Bucks yesterday after the league’s front office approved the trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

To the excitement of many Wisconsin basketball fans, Bronson Koenig will also be on the roster this summer for the Bucks. Koenig was the first player in Bucks history to ever sign a 2-way contract. Joining Koenig will be another familiar face from the Big Ten Conference, Travis Trice. Trice is the brother of current Badger D’Mitrik Trice and formerly played under Tom Izzo at Michigan State. Another guy on the roster that fans may recognize is Reggie Upshaw Jr. He lead the 15th seeded Middle Tennessee State team to a win over the 2nd seeded Michigan State Spartans last march.

Many experts around the league think that the Bucks Summer League roster is filled with NBA potential. Many believe that lots of these players will ultimately make the Bucks new G-League team, the Wisconsin Herd.

Giannis Antetokounmpo can reach MVP levels, but isn’t there yet

Milwaukee, WI | Giannis Antetokounmpo has had an outstanding start to his 2017-18 campaign for the Milwaukee Bucks There has been talk nationally and locally about where he ranks among the NBA’s best. The supremely talented 6’11” Filathlitikos, Greece native is working his way into the upper-echelon of basketball players. It’s not crazy to think […]

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Bucks lose home opener to Cavaliers 116-96

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks started their last season at the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a 116-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers despite a stellar night from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists but it wasn’t enough to supplant the Eastern Conference favorites. The Bucks hung with […]

0 comments

Bucks fall to Indiana 104-86 in preseason action

The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t put up much of a fight in a 104-86 loss to the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night in preseason action at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Indiana led by just eight at halftime, but pushed its lead to 22 points by the end of the third quarter. The Pacers offense was led […]

0 comments

Jabari in the second half of his rehab timetable

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is over halfway through his knee rehab recovery timetable since tearing his ACL on February 8th. Parker is adamant that his rehab is going well and his knee is feeling good. He expects to return to the Bucks and be cleared for game action sometime in February of this up-coming […]

0 comments

Report: Bucks remain on the “fringes” of Kyrie trade

If the Boston-Cleveland trade falls through for Kyrie Irving, the Bucks are one of several teams who still might have a shot at the All-Star. The trade hasn’t been completed due to the Cleveland Cavaliers questions over Isaiah Thomas and his hip injury. The Bucks were one of the handful of teams that would be vying […]

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Bucks officially acquire the draft rights to Sterling Brown

The Milwaukee Bucks have officially acquired the draft rights to Sterling Brown from the Philadelphia 76ers for cash. The trade was reported the night of the NBA draft, but wasn’t made official by the league until this afternoon. Brown was selected 46th overall by the 76ers in the second round of this years NBA draft. This was two spots ahead of the Bucks second round pick (Sindarius Thornwell), which they sent to the Clippers for cash.

Sterling Brown is the brother to former NBA player Shannon Brown. Brown stands 6’6″ and weighs 225 pounds. He played four seasons at SMU and played in a program record 136 games. Brown averaged 13.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. He also led the American Athletic Conference in three point shooting, shooting 44.9% from three point range. Brown was selected to the All-AAC Second Team.

Brown has been called a taller, longer Malcolm Brogdon. He hasn’t mastered any single skill, but doesn’t have any particular weakness in his game. Brown doesn’t jump out as explosive at first glance, but according to some scouts is a very athletic and lanky guard.

The Bucks are hoping to get Brown on their Summer  League roster as soon as possible. The Bucks Summer League schedule stats tomorrow, Friday, July 7th, against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Other Bucks participating in Summer League competition are Thon Maker, Rashad Vaughn, former Wisconsin basketball player Bronson Koenig, and the Bucks first round pick D.J. Wilson.

Giannis Antetokounmpo can reach MVP levels, but isn’t there yet

Milwaukee, WI | Giannis Antetokounmpo has had an outstanding start to his 2017-18 campaign for the Milwaukee Bucks There has been talk nationally and locally about where he ranks among the NBA’s best. The supremely talented 6’11” Filathlitikos, Greece native is working his way into the upper-echelon of basketball players. It’s not crazy to think […]

0 comments

Bucks lose home opener to Cavaliers 116-96

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks started their last season at the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a 116-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers despite a stellar night from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists but it wasn’t enough to supplant the Eastern Conference favorites. The Bucks hung with […]

0 comments

Bucks fall to Indiana 104-86 in preseason action

The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t put up much of a fight in a 104-86 loss to the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night in preseason action at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Indiana led by just eight at halftime, but pushed its lead to 22 points by the end of the third quarter. The Pacers offense was led […]

0 comments

Jabari in the second half of his rehab timetable

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is over halfway through his knee rehab recovery timetable since tearing his ACL on February 8th. Parker is adamant that his rehab is going well and his knee is feeling good. He expects to return to the Bucks and be cleared for game action sometime in February of this up-coming […]

0 comments

Report: Bucks remain on the “fringes” of Kyrie trade

If the Boston-Cleveland trade falls through for Kyrie Irving, the Bucks are one of several teams who still might have a shot at the All-Star. The trade hasn’t been completed due to the Cleveland Cavaliers questions over Isaiah Thomas and his hip injury. The Bucks were one of the handful of teams that would be vying […]

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