3 Milwaukee Bucks that are X-factors in quest to repeat as NBA champions

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 15 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 15 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Brook Lopez
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JULY 22 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

The 2021-22 NBA season is off to a wildly turbulent start as new players and coaches enter the health and safety protocols every hour. Despite the league-wide adversity, the end goal for teams like the Milwaukee Bucks remains bringing home another championship at the end of the season. The biggest question right now is if the league will get there as these issues continue to grow, but as long as the season is still going, the Bucks will be full steam ahead.

It is hard to assess the current state of the Bucks, considering they have so many players sidelined in with an injury or having entered the protocols. Yet, anyone who watches basketball understands that a full-heathy Milwaukee team is among the best in the league, if not the very best. They will be among the teams competing at the forefront of a title once the postseason rolls around, and if they will bring home the honors for the second straight season, there are several X-factors that will have to make an impact. With that said, let us look at three of them, as well as a bonus one.

Honorable mention: Brook Lopez will be an X-factor for the Milwaukee Bucks if he returns this season

Brook Lopez is an honorable mention here because there is an incredible amount of uncertainty revolving around his health. He has missed all but one game this season with back soreness, and he will not be returning anytime soon after recently undergoing a back procedure. Lopez’s return could certainly be an X-factor for the Bucks, but there is no guarantee that it will. A back surgery for a 33-year-old center is a tough pill to swallow, and there is no timetable on a potential return, although there is reportedly optimism within the organization that he could return this year.

If Lopez does make his return for at least the postseason, that will obviously be a massive boost for the Bucks. While Bobby Portis has been exceptional in the starting five and DeMarcus Cousins has been serviceable as his backup, neither player can quite fill the void left behind by Lopez. Few players in the NBA truly could, considering the 2019-20 All-Defensive honoree is among the best rim protectors playing today. This defensive excellence was on display throughout the title run in 2020-21, and the Bucks have clearly missed it this season. Getting their man in the middle back on the floor would bolster their title odds without question.

Rather than speculating about Lopez’s potential return just weeks after his surgery, we will focus on three players that will be on the court for the Bucks soon.