The Milwaukee Bucks came thisclose to taking their first trip to the NBA Finals in more than 45 years last season. They held a 2-0 series lead against the eventual NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors, in the Eastern Conference Finals before losing four straight games to miss out on their chance to make an NBA Finals run.
But there are many NBA experts who believe that losing to the Raptors could actually help the Bucks in the long run. That experience has led some people to pick the Bucks to go all the way and win a title this season.
It’s not going to be easy for the Bucks to work their way towards a title. The NBA is more wide open than it’s been in years with at least seven serious title contenders all vying for a ring.
But the Bucks sure look like they should be in the mix for an NBA title this season. Here are some of the reasons why so many people are predicting they’re going to be the NBA champions when everything is all said and done.
They Have Giannis Antetokounmpo on Their Team
Back in 2013, Giannis Antetokounmpo—a.k.a. the “Greek Freak”—was far from the most heralded player in the NBA Draft. He was drafted by the Bucks 15th overall, after players like Anthony Bennett, Ben McLemore, and Shabazz Muhammad.
It was hard to fault teams for not taking a flyer on Giannis back then, seeing as how he was still a raw 18-year-old from Greece with a lot to prove. But over the last six years, he has transformed himself into one of the best players, if not the best player, in the NBA.
Last season, Giannis won the NBA MVP award after putting up a stat line that looked like this:
- 27.7 points per game
- 12.5 rebounds per game
- 5.9 assists per game
- 1.5 blocks per game
- 1.3 steals per game
And believe it or not, his stat line during the 2019-20 NBA season could look even better.
Giannis is still very young—he’ll be 25 in December—and he’s still learning how to tap into his full potential. As he inches closer to doing it, it’s going to turn the Bucks into a more dominant team than they have been over the last few years.
Make no mistake about it: If the Bucks are to become NBA champions, it’ll be due in large part to the heroics of their young superstar.
They Also Have a Strong Supporting Cast Surrounding Giannis
The Bucks lost a few key players from their 2018-19 team over the summer. Malcolm Brogdon signed with the Indiana Pacers, Nikola Mirotic left the NBA to join FC Barcelona, and Pau Gasol took his talents to the Portland Trail Blazers.
But the Bucks still have a very strong supporting cast surrounding their star Giannis. They re-signed Giannis’ second fiddle Khris Middleton to a new deal, found room in the budget to re-sign Brook Lopez and George Hill, and added Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, and Giannis’ brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
And the Bucks also still have a host of other players who were with the team last season. Their roster includes:
- Eric Bledsoe
- Pat Connaughton
- Donte DiVincenzo
- Ersan Ilyasova
- D.J. Wilson
Bottom line: Despite some important losses, they’ve still put together a talented team around Giannis. You could argue that they’re more talented than any other team with a realistic chance to become NBA champions.
They Can Score Points With the Best of Them
If you were to ask a bunch of NBA fans to guess which team had the best offense in the league last season, most of them would probably say the Golden State Warriors. With Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant taking the court together most nights, how could they not have the best offense in the NBA?
But the Warriors were actually the second-best offense in the league last season. The best offense belonged to—you guessed it—the Bucks.
Milwaukee averaged 118.1 points per game during the 2018-19 season. It was just a shade better than the 117.7 points per game scored by the Warriors.
And so far this season, it appears as though they’re going to put up a repeat performance. They’re averaging over 121 points per game, which again puts them at the top of the league.
They Play Solid Defense, Too
To be NBA champions, a team needs to be able to do more than just score a lot of points. They also have to play solid defense. Defense, as they say, wins championships.
The Bucks weren’t one of the top defensive teams in the league last season. They finished ranked 11th after giving up 109.3 points per game.
But they proved that they can tighten things up and play good defense when it matters most during the NBA Playoffs. They gave up 104 points per game in the postseason, which was good for fourth-best among the 16 playoff teams.
They Play in the Weaker of the Two NBA Conferences
Take a look at any list of NBA title contenders for this season and you’ll notice one thing right away: Almost all of the contenders play in the Western Conference. From the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz, the West is loaded.
The Eastern Conference? Not so much!
To be fair, the Philadelphia 76ers pose a huge threat to the Bucks. Teams like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics could also challenge them.
But the East is, by far, the weaker of the two NBA conferences. It’s just one more reason why it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the Bucks find a way to overcome last season’s loss to the Raptors to earn a berth in the NBA Finals.
So, Are the Bucks Ready to Become NBA Champions?
The last time the Milwaukee Bucks were NBA champions, they had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson suiting up for them. It was 1971, and they swept the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards) to take home the title.
There’s a good chance that the Bucks are not going to sweep whoever they play in the NBA Finals if they’re fortunate enough to get there this season. But there’s also a good chance that the stars could align for them and see them win their first NBA title in almost 50 years.
Would you like to watch them pursue greatness at some point this season? Buy tickets to a Bucks game so that you can see Giannis and his teammates in action.