Milwaukee Bucks: 49 years in 49 days – 1996-97 season

SAN JOSE, CA - 1996: Ray Allen
SAN JOSE, CA - 1996: Ray Allen /

The Milwaukee Bucks added a true franchise legend and prepared for future success during the 1996-97 NBA season.

The season: 1996-97

The record: 33-49

The postseason: N/A

The story:

The Milwaukee Bucks went through quite the down season prior to the 1996 NBA Draft. The team won less games than it did the season before, mostly because of a failure to put talent around Glenn Robinson and Vin Baker.

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It would still take a while for the Bucks to assemble a team capable of making real waves in the Eastern Conference, but help would arrive in the summer before the 1996-97 NBA season kicked off.

First thing was first, though — Mike Dunleavy was removed from his head coaching position with the Bucks, although he was kept in his front office role. Chris Ford was named as his replacement.

The most important news, though, was NBA draft related. The Bucks traded the newly-drafted Stephon Marbury for Ray Allen and a future first round pick. Marbury would go on to have a fantastic NBA career, but Milwaukee made out pretty damn well by getting Allen.

It would take time for the future Hall of Famer to become who he ended up being, but his first season showed some promising signs. Allen averaged 13.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and nearly one steal per game.

That may not be a ton of points Allen was adding each night, but sadly it was enough for third-most on the 1996-97 Bucks. Aside from Milwaukee’s makeshift big three, no Bucks scored more than 9.7 points per game.

Big Dog and Vin Baker continued to excel, as was expected. Baker’s big man game was in prime form, as he posted 21.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. Still, Big Dog stole the scoring lead from him, putting up 21.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game.

Even with those two, Milwaukee had a decent offense and a worse defense. And, there was still the thing about Michael Jordan, Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing, among others, playing in the Bucks’ conference. Potential is nice, but unfortunately it doesn’t win basketball games.

Sadly, Milwaukee actually started the season strong, relatively speaking. The Bucks were 15-14 through nearly 30 games across November and December. The next several months were not so kind, though, especially March. Milwaukee’s 3-12 record in that month ruined any chance of the team having a good record at the end of the season.

The Bucks finished the year with 33 wins, worst in their division and nearly enough to qualify for postseason play.

Next: 49 years in 49 days: 1995-96 season

They may have been in a postseason drought, but the Milwaukee Bucks’ future now looked brighter than it had in a long while. Robinson and Allen would both go on to be crucial cogs on some very fun Bucks squads.