Milwaukee Bucks: Only One Thing Matters In Search For Success

Jan 15, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after scoring during overtime against the Atlanta Hawks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 108-101. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after scoring during overtime against the Atlanta Hawks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 108-101. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t good enough, or together long enough, to worry about internal politics or external perception. There’s only one thing worth thinking about.

It’s too soon for the Milwaukee Bucks future to be defined by anything other than how they play on the court.

There’s not a lot else that should really matter, and those who have the team’s best interests at heart will likely already realize that.

I don’t feel I was alone in this regard, but I got carried away about Milwaukee’s prospects this season. It was hard not to.

Last season the team offered up a thrilling and unexpected ride that pulled them all the way to the post-season. Following on from the worst season in franchise yesterday, it’s still hard to quantify how truly remarkable that feat was.

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The Bucks certainly didn’t just roll over and enjoy themselves when the playoffs arrived either. A strong performance in a hotly contested series with playoff mainstay and bitter rivals the Chicago Bulls was cause for further joy, and so the fires of optimism were readily stoked.

That seems like a steady base from which to build success, but when you add other factors such as the signing of a marquee free agent like Greg Monroe, the return of a top prospect like Jabari Parker from injury, and the continued growth of a young core into the mix, it all starts to sound very exciting.

Prior to the big tip-off, I felt like the Bucks could win 50 games this season. Of course, that sounds ridiculous now, but I wasn’t just drinking the Kool-Aid, I was drunk on it.

For as many who are vocal about their disappointment with the Bucks this season, there aren’t too many who are forthcoming with reminders of where their belief in the team was at the start of the season. It’s important to reflect on that, as it teaches an important lesson.

This season appeared to promise Milwaukee so many of the ingredients necessary for success, but through all of that the reality was that nobody really knew who this Bucks team was.

Almost 60 games later we know even less.

The “we” is important in this context too as it very much applies to the collective. This isn’t just an issue among fans, or bloggers, or sports writers and journalists. It applies to everybody within the organization too.

March 1 will represent 24 months to the day from the Bucks losing 107-98 to Jason Kidd‘s Brooklyn Nets, further consolidating their spot as the league’s worst team with a record of 11-47 up to that point.

In the time since, Larry Drew was fired and Kidd switched over to the opposite end of the sideline, a new ownership group took control and the roster underwent a colossal overhaul.

Only one starter (Khris Middleton) remains from that game against the Nets and only three others who dressed that night remain as current Bucks (Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson and O.J. Mayo).

If we’re being realistic, how could the Bucks have possibly achieved any more than they have in the short span of time since?

The players are not only still developing and improving as the shape of the roster continues to shift, but they’re also still learning how best to play together.

That leaves a lot of questions to be answered and issues to be resolved, in a process that can only figure itself out with time. It’s not to say that the front office shouldn’t continue to look to improve the team, as there can of course be worthwhile, if not in fact necessary moves to be made.

As with everything else surrounding the Bucks right now, such decisions have to be weighed up through the prism of how the team gets better as a unit, and how the key figures who seem capable of making up the organization’s future can be best served.

This means that when rumors of Greg Monroe potentially being traded surface, the last thing anybody needs to worry about is the possibility of it impacting the team’s future free agent appeal. Decisions need to be about how the Bucks can be best served to win in the long-term.

Not to burst any bubbles, but Milwaukee has never been a prime free agent location, and in the bigger picture the capture of Monroe will do little to influence that otherwise.

The Bucks best chance of building a great team will come through the draft, and that is the path they have taken at present. It’s how Jabari and Giannis arrived here in the first place, and by virtue of trading a player who was a Bucks draft pick for his services, it’s also in a way how the team picked up Khris Middleton.

If the Bucks want to appeal to free agents in the longer term, they’re best not worrying about how players around the league might view their past transactions, and instead focusing on developing superstar talent who everybody will want to play with.

As an example, think of the options the Cleveland Cavaliers could have open to them in free agency (if their cap situation wasn’t so tight) with players of their current talent level, and then cast your mind back to this.

It’s funny how winning changes perceptions.

It seems like the only thing that changes people’s minds quicker than winning is losing, and that’s evident in a gradual shift in sentiment towards Jason Kidd as much as anything else.

With recent reports suggesting a slight cooling off in the ownership’s affection towards Jason Kidd, it feels like a timely reminder of just how dispensable the majority of pieces in any NBA organization actually are.

Kidd hasn’t earned the level of trust and responsibility that he clearly wants, and that many have suggested he’s close to having in Milwaukee.

Kidd was a great player, but he’s only in his third season as a coach, and with a below .500 win percentage to date, he needs to rein in any grand aspirations. Walk before you can run.

Officially, Kidd’s role can only be defined as head coach, and therefore that’s the only area where he needs to be focusing his energy.

All of this ties into one larger snapshot of where the Milwaukee Bucks are as an organization right now. There’s a need for patience, but more importantly when decisions need to be made, they need to be measured rather than reckless.

Reckless is what last summer’s Greivis Vasquez trade has proven to be, and with hindsight, it probably also applies to the deal that brought Greg Monroe to the team. If that move proved to be too much too soon for a team who weren’t ready (but overeager) to win, there’s a need to learn from it.

Very little should matter for the Bucks right now outside of getting a read on how good the team’s young trio of Antetokounmpo, Parker and Middleton can be, and helping them to reach those heights. Political power plays and worries about perception can’t come into play.

Next: The Leading Milwaukee Bucks In Each Statistical Category: February Edition

Milwaukee has a long way to go on any potential road to success. Now they need to drive safely to avoid crashing out and burning before they reach their destination.