Milwaukee Bucks: The position that could make or break a title repeat

Jul 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

It may sound obvious, but there’s never going to be a perfect championship team. Every team, no matter how great, will have a weak link in their roster construction and could potentially hold them back. Sure, some teams are closer to perfection than others, but there’s never a truly perfect team. The same could be said for the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

Last year most would agree that the biggest position of weakness was the point guard. That’s no disrespect to Jrue Holiday either, he was the only thing the Bucks had going for them at that position. However, as we found out, Holiday can’t play his brand of high-level defense while being out there for 48 minutes. There was virtually no viable depth behind him, however. Jeff Teague played minutes here and there, even having a standout performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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But once Donte DiVincenzo went down, there were few reliable ball handlers at the guard position to take the load off of Holiday and that could have held the Bucks back from winning a championship. But as we all know, head coach Mike Budenholzer found ways around not having a reliable backup point guard. Working around your weaknesses is possible if you have the right personnel.

This season, the position shouldn’t be as much of a concern after bringing back their former reliable backup point guard in George Hill. While there is some concern about his age and how he finished last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, he should at least be an upgrade over Teague. This does mean though, that there is a new position of potential weakness that could come back to haunt the Bucks in their quest to repeat as NBA champions.

The position that could make or break the Milwaukee Bucks chance to repeat as champions

While the Bucks did a lot to improve their depth this offseason, one position group that remained relatively untouched compared to last year is their frontcourt. Although they did well to retain the ever-important Bobby Portis who will play a vital role backing up the veteran Brook Lopez, but beyond those two the only other options to play the five are Giannis Antetokounmpo, who you want to save for the biggest moments in that role, and Mamadi Diakite, who is still unproven.

You’d be correct in saying that center is still a deeper position than what the Bucks fielded at point guard in the playoffs, but there are still some questions surrounding the frontcourt depth. Portis is a great floor-stretcher and offensive rebounder, but the Bucks had a defensive rating of 113.8 when Portis played center, per Cleaning the Glass. It’s part of the reason why Portis was benched for the final three games of the Brooklyn Nets series.

This isn’t to say that Portis can’t be a good defensive big, but that there’s still work to be done on that end of the floor and that it isn’t his strength. It’s also unfair to expect that Portis will shoot over 47 percent from 3 again this season, there should be some regression in that aspect.

As for Lopez, the concern is relatively simple in that he’s 33, going into his 14th NBA season, and has played nearly 26,000 minutes in his career including a championship run where he played nearly 700 minutes. Lopez is obviously in unbelievable shape, but you’d like to have some extra depth to give Lopez some much needed rest through the course of this season.

This is a lot of doom and gloom, but it’s not unrealistic to think that these things could play a factor this season. Like the point guard depth problem, there are ways around it. Semi Ojeleye being a comparable replacement for P.J. Tucker would be a huge help and he has the defensive prowess to do so. And of course, Antetokounmpo could play more minutes at center especially after seeing how crucial it was for the Bucks in the playoffs.

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The Bucks do have quality options in the frontcourt, but their depth could be tested throughout the season as rest will be needed.