Milwaukee Bucks: The need for internal development

MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 15: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 15: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

As the Milwaukee Bucks look to build a path to long-term championship contention, continued internal improvement and development will be essential.

Having come up short at the Conference Finals stage last season, the Milwaukee Bucks have had an eventful offseason in their preparations to perform even better in 2019-20.

Malcolm Brogdon represented a notable subtraction from that 60-win team, but Milwaukee did manage to make a host of moves along the fringes which will see them try to cover over that loss with additional experience and even greater depth.

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Still, simply jumping on the carousel of contending teams competing for veteran ring-chasers to fill out the roster is a risky strategy.

From year to year, there’s no guarantee of what you’re going to get and which players are going to buy into your project. This summer, the Bucks hit the jackpot in that regard, but that shouldn’t lead to any sense of complacency in terms of how future summers could play out.

Even the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, the best teams of the past five years or so, had to deal with their own ups and downs in terms of the quality of veteran contribution at the end of their cap restricted rosters.

One of the best approaches to countering that variance, though, is to place an overly strong emphasis on internal improvement from year-to-year.

For the Bucks, that task may seem a little daunting off the back of a 60-win season, but positive development can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Firstly, a team becoming more accomplished in their preferred schemes, while also expanding the range of options at their disposal can translate to significant strides forward on the court. This kind of development would seem particularly plausible for Milwaukee next season given their increased familiarity and experience working with coach Mike Budenholzer and his staff heading into year two together.

Individual skill work also makes for an intriguing topic as far as the Bucks are concerned, as it has always been a hallmark of Budenholzer and his coaching staff. Their ability to help young players kick on and fringe players become role players has been well-documented over the years, and would remain very welcome in Milwaukee.

Improvements in skill can come into play across a roster too, though. For example, in the Bucks’ case, they’d desperately love Giannis Antetokounmpo to develop a reliable jump shot, or for Eric Bledsoe to rectify his own shooting woes.

Most important when it comes to ensuring the roster retains a coherent and competitive shape from year to year is the ability to maximize the ability of young players.

Without any draft pick entering the fold this year, and with hit and miss returns in recent years, the Bucks don’t have their own reserve of young role players in place to offer the type of cover the franchise ultimately had to hunt for among veterans on the open market.

Getting the most out of your players who are on cheap, cost-controlled deals is crucial, but developing one or more of those players into contributors who could take on even larger roles would be a massive bonus.

On that front, attentions turn to D.J. Wilson, Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, Dragan Bender, and two-way players Frank Mason III and Cameron Reynolds.

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What, if anything, can the Bucks make out of that group? That will prove to be an important question throughout the season, but it could be even more significant beyond that if they can turn any of those players into pieces who could figure into any longer term plans.