Ranking every Milwaukee Bucks season of the past decade

Jan 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MAY 07 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

It’s been a long and interesting journey over the past decade for the Milwaukee Bucks. The team went from the worst in the league in 2013 to the NBA champions in 2021, and there were several interesting seasons and moments in-between. But from a fan’s perspective, what were the best and worst seasons of the last decade? Here is a list from worst to best.

10. The 2012-13 Season

Regular season record: 38-44

Playoffs: Lost first round

Surprisingly, the 15-win 2013 team is not last on this list, despite being by far the worst in terms of the team’s record. The seasons before the start of the rebuild I believe were arguably worse from a fan’s perspective simply because the Bucks were stuck in mediocrity. They weren’t good enough to do anything other than barely making the playoffs, and they weren’t bad enough to get a good draft pick.

This was the final year before Giannis was drafted and the rebuild began. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis played their only full season together and got the Bucks to the playoffs where they faced the powerhouse Miami Heat in the first round.

The most memorable moment of the season was when Brandon Jennings declared that the Bucks would “win in 6” over the Heat before they went on to get swept. Nobody knew at the time how iconic this moment would later become, but it is an integral part of Bucks history now. It was fun to make the playoffs and have a decent team with a fun backcourt duo, but this season was largely forgettable and was the final straw that led to the Bucks finally blowing things up. Jennings and Ellis were gone in the offseason, and the Milwaukee Bucks began to rebuild.

9. The 2013-14 Season

Regular season record: 15-67

Playoffs: None

This was pretty easily the worst season in Bucks history record-wise. However, despite the terrible record, this was a somewhat refreshing season for the Bucks and their die-hard fans. The team was finally starting a true rebuild and going to have one of the best picks in the draft the following summer, so there was at least something to look forward to. Rumors of the team potentially leaving Milwaukee did not make things very enjoyable, but a young kid from Greece did.

Despite scoring just 6.8 points per game, Giannis immediately had some exciting plays that made fans excited about his potential. Even when we lost by double digits, some dunks and games got you excited about what could be coming. Again, it was refreshing to finally have something to be excited about for the future, although watching 67 losses was difficult. Shoutout to Brandon Knight, though.

8. The 2015-16 Season

Regular season record: 33-49

Playoffs: None

After an exciting 2014-15 season (more on that later), the Bucks stepped back in 2015-16. They signed Greg Monroe before the season which got many people excited, but the results were mediocre. The highlight of the season came in December when they ended the Warriors’ 24-game winning streak, but other than that, this was a forgettable season.

Giannis and Middleton were both improving and looking like sure-fire pieces for the future, but everything else was pretty uncertain. Michael Carter-Williams was not the point guard of the future, Jason Kidd was not looking great as a head coach, and the bench needed work.

7. The 2017-18 Season

Regular season record: 44-38

Playoffs: Lost first round

This was a fine season that saw the Bucks finish as the 6-seed in the East, but it was also disappointing and frustrating. Early in the year, the Bucks made an exciting trade to acquire Eric Bledsoe, and they seemed to be putting together a nice team.

But halfway through the year, the Bucks were just 23-22 and didn’t seem to be living up to their potential, and as a result, they fired coach Jason Kidd. Joe Prunty took over as interim head coach and got Milwaukee to the playoffs, but they lost in seven games to the Celtics.

This was the first year Giannis looked like a borderline superstar, putting up 26.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Khris Middleton also averaged 20 points per game for the first time, but still, everything around them was a little bit uncertain, especially the coaching. The top players were starting to become great, but the team wasn’t.

6. The 2014-15 Season

Regular season record: 41-41

Playoffs: Lost first round

This was a remarkable turnaround year that was not supposed to happen. After finishing with just 15 wins the year prior, the Bucks won 41 games and made the playoffs. They had a very balanced attack, with seven players averaging 10+ points, and Giannis, Jabari, and Middleton all gave fans some excitement about the future.

There were a couple of buzzer-beaters late in the season that provided some excitement around the team — Khris Middleton’s game-winning three to beat the Heat in late March and Jerryd Bayless’ buzzer-beating layup in game four of the opening round series against the Bulls. The Bucks didn’t win that playoff series, but the fact that they were no longer the joke of the league and had some hope for the future is what possibly saved their franchise. In the summer following this season, the state senate approved the funding for a new arena to be built that would keep the team in Milwaukee.

5. The 2016-17 Season

Regular season record: 42-40

Playoffs: Lost first round

2016 was the year when people started to believe in the Bucks’ future. Giannis was improving rapidly and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, averaging 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. There was no longer any doubt about whether he was going to pan out — he already had.

Jabari Parker averaged 20 points per game, but suffered his first big injury and missed the final few months of the season. He really would never be the same player again, which was a setback for the Bucks but would later be made up for by Khris Middleton’s improvement. The injury was a very disappointing moment, but people still were excited about Giannis, and the first-round playoff series against the Raptors was very fun, even though Milwaukee lost in six.

4. The 2019-20 Season

Regular season record: 56-17

Playoffs: Lost second round

This was the best winning percentage the Bucks had in a season since the early 1970s when they won a championship. Milwaukee started the season a ridiculous 53-9 and finished with a 56-17 record. Giannis was insane, winning his second straight MVP award and also being named the Defensive Player of the Year. It was looking like a dream season for the Bucks, but after they just had the best regular season record the year prior and failed to make the Finals, there was added pressure to get it done in the playoffs this time around. This made it difficult for fans to just enjoy the season and how much they were winning.

Eventually, COVID hit, the season was put on pause for 5 months, and the league moved to the bubble, where everything changed. The Bucks were unable to find their rhythm and lost to the Heat in the second round in five games. This was now back-to-back years with the best regular season record and not even making it to the Finals. And thus began an offseason of every media outlet speculating about Giannis’ future. He would soon go on to sign the supermax (in your face, everyone).

3. The 2018-19 Season

Regular season record: 60-22

Playoffs: Lost Conference Finals

Maybe this is just because I had never seen a great Bucks team in my life before this, but this was one of my favorite seasons, even with how heartbreaking and frustrating the ending was. In their first season with Mike Budenholzer as head coach, the Bucks won 60 games and had the best record in the NBA. Giannis won his first MVP, Budenholzer was named Coach of the Year, and Jon Horst was named Executive of the Year.

The Milwaukee Bucks came two wins away from the NBA Finals before blowing a 2-0 lead to the Raptors, but it was clear they had arrived. Milwaukee now had arguably the best player in the game, and they were an elite team. Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez signed extensions in the offseason, and the core was being put in place. We now knew the Bucks would be back near the Finals several times, it was just a matter of getting it done.

2. The 2021-22 Season

Regular season record: 51-31

Playoffs: Lost second round

On paper, nothing stands out about this season. The team didn’t have a crazy good record, Giannis didn’t win any awards, and they didn’t make it out of the second round. However, this was a very enjoyable season simply because they had won it all the year before. There was no pressure, there were no questions, there wasn’t a weight on the team’s shoulders, and nobody could make fun of us. We were coming off an NBA championship, and it was hard to get too upset at anything.

Sure, it would have been awesome to repeat, and it sucked that they were arguably just one injury away from doing so. But the team was still good enough to win it all again, Giannis remained the best player in the world, and we could enjoy the season knowing that the Milwaukee Bucks were the NBA champions.

1. The 2020-21 Season

Regular season record: Who cares

Playoffs: You already know

No explanation is needed, you know what happened.

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Stay tuned to see where upcoming Milwaukee Bucks seasons will land on upcoming lists.