Welcome to the beginning of what will become a weekly segment here at Wisconsin Sports Heroics! Every Monday I will be breaking down Power Rankings from five major sports sites to show how everyone else is grading the Milwaukee Bucks. This week, we have CBS Sports, the NBA, ESPN, The Athletic, and Bleacher Report.
Let’s break it down!
NBA (as of Feb 6th)
Starting off with the big dogs themselves, the NBA has the Milwaukee Bucks at #3, behind the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets. They note that the Bucks aren’t as dominant offensively as they were last season, but the return of Khris Middleton and the dominance of Giannis Antetokounmpo is why the Bucks are on a 7-0-win streak entering their West Coast road-trip tonight.
They’ve won 12 of their last 13 games in which they’ve had Antetokounmpo in uniform, outscoring their opponents by 12.9 points per 100 possessions in his 437 minutes on the floor over that stretch. – John Schuhmann, NBA.com
CBS Sports (as of Feb 6th)
CBS Sports seems to like what they see and has placed the Bucks at #1 on their rankings. Whether this is a good or a bad thing remains to be seen, almost every time that CBS Sports has put a team at #1 on their Power Rankings that same team suffers a defeat. Last time it was the 76ers who lost within hours of CBS Sports slapping the curse on them. Hopefully Giannis and the Bucks can break the cycle against the Trailblazers tonight.
The Clippers were on the verge of a statement win on Thursday in Milwaukee, but they were run over by the Giannis Express.” – Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports
ESPN (as of Feb 1st)
The folks at ESPN have the oldest article of this round up, so obviously there will be some shifting when they publish their next Power Rankings, but at the time their most recent list had the Bucks at #3 behind the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. Interestingly enough, despite two games happening between now and this article, one fact remains the same . . .
Milwaukee has not lost since Khris Middleton . . . returned to the lineup from a knee injury. – Jamal Collier, ESPN
The Athletic (as of Feb 6th)
The Athletic has placed the Bucks in the top spot, and specifically wanted to shout out Jevon Carter’s recent play as a top end role player for the team. I have one thing to say about Carter and his development in Milwaukee: Defense wins championships.
With Khris Middleton back, the Bucks will need less and less of Carter, but he was great in creating a defensive backcourt with Jrue Holiday. Offense suffers with Carter on the floor, but the defense has been elite. – Zach Harper, The Athletic
Bleacher Report (as of Feb 3rd)
Bleacher Report has the lowest ranking for the Bucks in this week’s cycle of Power Rankings. They have the Bucks at #4, which is up one spot from their previous ranking. They note that Giannis didn’t look like himself for a while but recently has been incredibly dominant.
In his last three games before [missing time due to injury], Giannis averaged 12.7 points while shooting 34.4 percent from the field and 20.0 percent from deep. In his first six games since coming back, he’s at 40.2 points with a 59.5 field-goal percentage and a 38.5 three-point percentage. – Andy Bailey, Bleacher Report
TL;DR The Bucks are a top 3 team according to most analysts and have been on a blazing hot streak. Currently the Bucks are only one game back from the Celtics for 1st in the Eastern Conference as they are about to begin a three-game road trip along the West Coast. Hopping from Portland, where they’ll face the Trailblazers, and then facing the Lakers and the Clippers on a back-to-back in Los Angeles will be a difficult task for the Bucks but they seem up for it with their current level of play. The Bucks are the only team in the NBA to not play in the Mountain or Pacific time-zones so far this year, so we will see if the time-zone changes have an effect on the team.
Fun Fact: The Milwaukee Bucks 7 game streak is the longest winning streak in the NBA right now, with the Suns, Pelicans, Cavaliers, Bulls, Raptors, and Magic tied for second place with 2-win streaks.
Less Fun Fact: The Milwaukee Bucks do not have the longest overall streak in the NBA right now, as that belongs to the San Antonio Spurs who have managed to lose 8 games in a row. Let’s root for the Spurs to beat the Bulls tonight so the Bucks can claim the longest streak without an asterisk.
Come back tomorrow when I break down what these Power Rankings mean for the Bucks and their playoff hopes!