Milwaukee Bucks: Living In Last Year’s Shadow


The Milwaukee Bucks need to forget about trying to be last year’s second ranked defense as they’re no longer that team.

It’s not the beginning anyone envisioned for the Bucks, but it’s where we currently stand after seventeen games so far into this season.

A lack of consistency as well as lapses of effort have largely been to blame for the team’s abysmal 6-11 start and more cracks start to show after each passing game. Of course, there were expectations that growing pains would occur with the team being as young and relatively inexperienced as they are and a lot of the Bucks’ current problems can (hopefully) be reversed over time.

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However, the decision coach Jason Kidd made yesterday afternoon to bench both Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker in favor for Jerryd Bayless and O.J. Mayo suggests something deeper is at fault for why the Bucks have played the way they have.

It’s clear something needed to change and without going into too much detail about the specific moves, it’s apparent that they wanted to try to recreate some of the magic defensively from last season into this year.

But there’s one big problem with going about that strategy: they aren’t that team.

Now, that isn’t to say that that was what the team set out to achieve from the beginning of the season, but there was definitely a feeling from fans and possibly the players on the team that they could repeat the same recipe from last year to be successful this season.

Nov 25, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks players hold back head coach

Jason Kidd

who was ejected from the game during the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Furthermore, there were definite changes that needed to be made in the present in order for the team to improve their miserable defense and somehow rise from the bottom ranks in the league into something more respectable.

But after each game that we see this season, the more it proves that last year’s lightning in a bottle-like team is an anomaly.

The amount of players that joined the team, as well as the surprise factor of having a new and aggressive defensive scheme that caught teams off guard all throughout the regular season last year just simply can’t be conjured up, no matter how hard the team tries this year.

Obviously some of the players that were instrumental, like Zaza Pachulia and Jared Dudley, in creating some of that success are long gone, but the hopeful expectation relayed from some of the more optimistic Bucks fans that you could fit any player with a questionable defensive reputation into the team’s rabid defensive scheme seems to be eroding exponentially as we see more action.

Increasingly apparent warning signs like the lack of leadership and immaturity have seemingly reared their ugly head as the team goes through more dispiriting losses. More times than not, there’s more communication after fouls or non-calls than the times when the Bucks are on defense, which was a big worry heading into the season.

No matter how experienced a team is, it’s hard for any team to go through the same types of hardships that this Bucks team has gone through this early into the season and see positive results come out of it.  But seeing a team fold the way this Bucks team has shown repeatedly when dealing with adversity is very concerning.

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However, we knew going into this season that could be a by-product of seeing those very vocal leaders move on to new places.  Of course, there’s still plenty of time for a player to step up as the leader of this year’s team to try to spark a turnaround.

But from what we’ve seen on the defensive side of things, the coaching staff seemingly expects lightning to strike twice with the mismatched pieces they have this year and something has to give at this point, whether that’s scheme changes or different lineups.

So at this point, until we see a pattern of positive results, the expectation of this year’s team living up to the standard of last year’s team must disappear.

The team can always get out of the hole that they’ve dug themselves in this early into the season, but more drastic changes may be on the way if things continue the way they have been.

Hopefully, that results in the coaching staff embracing a new identity (hint: the 3 P’s might work) because the sooner we move away from last year’s team, in both their success and identity, the better.