In five games, the Bucks have gone 3-2, and the way their two losses came via blowouts (against the Atlanta Hawks and the Toronto Raptors) is a testament to how much work is required for this squad.
Milwaukee Bucks Drop Significantly in NBA Power Rankings
The folks over on Bleacher Report have come out with their latest iteration of the NBA Power Rankings, and Bucks fans won’t be happy about the fact that their team has fallen out of the league’s Top 5.
The Bucks are now ranked No. 6 behind the likes of the Dallas Mavericks (No. 5), the Philadelphia 76ers (No. 3), and the Boston Celtics (No. 1).
To be fair, the rankings were released before Milwaukee’s 110-105 win against the New York Knicks on Friday, but given how the Bucks didn’t exactly blow anyone away with their hard-fought home victory against the Knicks, the same arguments pertaining to Milwaukee’s lack of success early on still apply.
“After getting blown out by the sub-.500 Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, the Bucks are now 2-2. Their defense appears to have been more dependent on Jrue Holiday than we realized. And Giannis doesn’t look quite as comfortable in a new, limited role as he did as the undisputed alpha before Lillard arrived,” Bailey wrote.
Losing Jrue Holiday is tough, especially if you consider how much of a defensive advantage he has over his replacement, Damian Lillard. However, the bigger issue Milwaukee is facing is Antetokounmpo’s fit alongside his new superstar teammate.
Through five games, Giannis is averaging just 15.4 attempts per game, which is his lowest tally since his third season in the NBA. He’s shooting 54.5 percent, which is also his lowest mark since the 2016-17 season. Finally, his 24.0 points per game is his lowest average over the past seven seasons.
Bailey points out that Khris Middleton’s return to full strength is going to be key for the Bucks (he’s slowly getting there), but at the end of the day, it’s still all about Giannis and Dame’s chemistry:
“Khris Middleton getting healthy and back to starters minutes would surely help, but this early portion of the season is going to be more about finding the balance between Lillard and Giannis than anything else,” Bailey wrote.
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