Milwaukee Bucks: Exploring the team’s few question marks moving forward

Mar 31, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Mar 31, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jordan Nwora, New York Knicks: Nerlens Noel
Mar 27, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Do depth and development inspire optimism for the future?

Mike Budenholzer has long had the reputation of going 10-deep in the regular season. The third-year Bucks tactician has always tried to maximize his production off the bench to develop young players. Unfortunately, he also has a tendency to play favorites from time to time, as evidenced by his preference for Thanasis Antetokounmpo over Torrey Craig earlier on in the season.

Depth can only be depth when the bench players actually go out and perform, which in turn only happens if they’re developed well by coaching and by experience.

This season, the Bucks will be able to trot out Jordan Nwora to play the role of Bryn Forbes. But this can only happen, first and foremost, if he’s able to overcome the logjam at the wing position and earn the favor (and minutes) of Budenholzer.

Ojeleye, too, will surely be given chances to establish himself within his 3-and-D role, while DiVincenzo will be expected to make another leap forward in his senior season with the Bucks as he will now have to compete for starter minutes with Allen and Hood. Mamadi Diakite may be handed a few non-garbage time minutes, too, and he’ll have to prove he was worth the contract he inked with the organization.

Other Bucks rookies like Sandro Mamukelashvili and Giorgos Kalaitzakis have also shown promising signs in the Summer League. With the depth on the roster, though, it’s unlikely they’ll see meaningful developmental minutes for the win-now Bucks.

Even then, the question of development applies across the board for the Milwaukee Bucks, whether it involves youthful prospects or established veterans. Individual growth posits a question worth asking of every team, but more so for a team sporting a 26-year-old Finals MVP: How do they get better from here in the short term? What about the longer term, years from now?

Middleton and Holiday ultimately played a significant role in bringing the gold back to the state of Wisconsin. Prior to that, though, they were often panned for their inconsistencies on the offensive end. It’s still a contentious point to make for borderline All-Stars who averaged 20.4 and 17.7 points per contest this season en route to making title-winning plays all season long. But the criticisms are there, and they’re there for a reason.

Giannis, too, still has a world of improvement to make in his already omnipotent game, most notably with his shooting from the stripe. His 17-for-19 statline from the free-throw line in the title-clinching Game 6 was a sight to behold, but this free-throw shooting should be seen as the exception rather than the norm. He still shot 68.5 percent from the line on 9.5 attempts per game this past season.

This postseason, Giannis laid claim to bucket after bucket when he was on the warpath in the interior. His baseline fade-away took something of a backseat in these tight moments, but as the playoffs wore on, he also treated fans to a steady improvement in his post-game as he made hook shots, short jumpers, and other back-to-the-basket moves in clutch moments. (Looking at you, Bag Twitter.)

Milwaukee Bucks: 3 ways Jordan Nwora can crack the 2021-22 rotation. dark. Next

It remains to be seen what other moves he—and the Milwaukee Bucks as a whole—add to their bag moving forward. Regardless of how they’re addressed, one thing is certain: the Milwaukee Bucks have reloaded for another crack at the Larry O’Brien trophy.