It is no surprise the Milwaukee Bucks have struggled at the beginning of the 2021-22 season.
A multitude of factors can be attributed to their 10-8 record, with the following being the biggest culprits of the Bucks slow start: injuries, championship hangover, a short offseason, and new faces coming off the bench. As fans question the beginning of this season, it is time to stop focusing on what has happened and transition to what has to happen for the Bucks to right the ship before their Christmas Day game: the unofficial first day of the NBA season, by most standards.
How the Milwaukee Bucks can get back to being the Milwaukee Bucks
1. Get healthy: The Brook Lopez injury has been analyzed ad nauseam, so let’s focus on the players that are ready to play. Khris Middleton coming back from COVID protocols will help immensely in the half-court offense, and presumably, will resume guarding the tougher wing players in the league. Middleton coming back puts the Bucks in a better position than they have been in weeks. Keep in mind, when Jrue Holiday finally came back from his injury, that is around the time that Middleton went into protocols. The Big Three has seen the floor very little this season. The production on the court should rise with the trio playing, regardless of the Lopez injury. Remember: there were Bucks fans and media thinking Lopez was going to be traded, and then in the playoffs, should not be on the court. The problem is NOT just Lopez.
2. Know your role: Simply put, the bench is a work in progress. Right now, Semi Ojeleye and Rodney Hood are not players that should be in the regular rotation. Ojeleye cannot shoot; he is not a poor man’s PJ Tucker. He has struggled with all aspects of his game, including defense in which he was supposed to be good at. Hood is nonexistent. However, the bench is not the only issue.
Holiday is trying to do too much. He is an NBA Champion and Olympic gold medal winner, but his jump shot is inconsistent and he needs to stop wildly spinning the ball off the backboard. With the starters being Giannis Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Holiday, Grayson Allen, and fill-in-the-blank, head coach Mike Budenholzer should put someone in the starting lineup that will not affect the bench mob. Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, and George Hill should always be the first three off the bench. Time to get back to a normal rotation.
3. Understand all teams are coming for YOU. The Bucks have not grasped the role of NBA champion yet. Maybe this will come later rather than sooner, but it seems through coaching or player lapses that they have not realized that the Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, etc. are bringing their A-game to Fiserv Forum. They want to ball out. The Bucks need to match the other team’s intensity, especially at home where they are a dismal 4-4.
Time is on the Bucks’ side. They are still the champions. Eventually, they will start playing like it, even if it doesn’t start until Christmas Day.
Best case scenario: the Milwaukee Bucks come back to form this week. Five-game homestand. Time to remember who they are. The last three wins were a start. Go Bucks!