With the NBA season in jeopardy given the ongoing pandemic, the Milwaukee Bucks’ long-term picture just became a bit bleaker.
With the NBA season suspended for the foreseeable future, and no immediate end in sight for the ongoing pandemic we are currently dealing with, it’s worth discussing just how much a potential lost season could alter the long-term trajectory of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise.
Before the season was put on hold, Milwaukee looked as well-positioned to make a run at a championship as they have in any season they’ve had over the past three decades.
They currently hold the NBA’s best record despite having lost three consecutive games for the first time in over two seasons. Their point differential continues to remain far above of the rest of the league, and in historic territory, at 11.3, nearly four points better than the next highest team in the Los Angeles Lakers (7.4).
Their net rating (10.7) and defensive rating (101.6) remain tops in the league as well, and they’re tied for fifth with the Boston Celtics in offensive rating (112.3). Every indication we had, both in the numbers, and from what we saw on the court, suggested that the Bucks were going to be a formidable opponent for anyone come playoff time.
Unfortunately, there’s an increasing likelihood, with each passing day that the season is paused, that the remainder of the 2019-20 season may never be played out. Even IF the NBA is able to resume this season at some point in the coming months, what’s likely to happen over the remainder of the season, and in the playoffs, will probably be substantially different from what we have seen to this point. It would be as if we are starting the season over again, if and when things were to resume.
Regardless of what the NBA decides to with the remainder of this season, the long-term trajectory of the Milwaukee Bucks as a franchise has potentially been altered in a significant way by the season being paused. What may have been a title-winning season may now be lost. Even if the season starts up again, at some point, there’s no guarantee that the team we see on the court then will be anything like the one we saw over the past six months. If that were to occur, and they were to fall short in their pursuit of a title, that could prove to be devastating long-term for the team.
If Milwaukee was to fail to capitalize on this incredible season they’ve had, it’s not difficult to envision that increasing their odds of losing their star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, in free agency in the summer of 2021. No one knows what Antetokounmpo may decide to do right now, but given how competitive he is, and given how many contenders will have the cap space to court him that summer, there’s a lot of options out there for him to explore if he decides he wants to go elsewhere. Leaving may be more tempting to him if Milwaukee has not won a title with him before he’s able to hit the open market.
Even if this season doesn’t affect his status with the team, it will still go down as the biggest what-if scenario in franchise history if they fail to win a title, or if the season never resumes. Everything about this team this season suggested this may have been the finest one the Bucks have ever put on the court. In fact, they’ve been a historically great team by many metrics. We’ll never really get the chance to know how THAT team would have done if a pandemic hadn’t brought the league to a halt when it did.
Maybe things will still work themselves out, and Milwaukee will get their shot to win the title at some point later this year. However, that’s far from a certainty. The potential for their season to be lost, regardless of what the league does, has gone way up.
The long-term trajectory of the Milwaukee Bucks may have just gotten bleaker. We’ll see if they can navigate the potential fallout from this potentially lost season in the months ahead.
To wrap up, let me say that our thoughts are with everyone across the United States, and around the world right now, as we deal with this ongoing public health crisis. We hope you’re all staying safe during this difficult time, and we urge everyone to do what they can to help those in need, and to continue to engage in proper social distancing practices to keep you, your family, and everyone else safe.