Bucks Roundtable: Reflecting on a crazy off-season and what comes next

Oct 17, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 10, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

What’s the biggest X-factor for the Bucks this season?

Sell: Health is the obvious answer here, as it’s been an issue for the Bucks over the last two years. If everyone stays healthy, the answer is wing defense. As highlighted in a previous section, there is a big need for a reliable wing defender on this team. With Lillard, Antetokounmpo, and Middleton, the Bucks will have offense, but they need that 2021 P.J. Tucker archetype to go out there and take on the tough assignments nightly. Right now, the likeliest candidates are Andre Jackson Jr., MarJon Beauchamp, and Jae Crowder, but they all have question marks. Perhaps the team could swing a trade before the deadline to bulk up their wing defense. It’s a huge X-factor.

Moxon: The biggest X-factor is Khris Middleton’s health and I guess the team’s health in general. The Miami Heat deservedly won that series but who knows if Giannis was fully healthy would it be different? Middleton was one of the positives from that series and now with Dame and a bunch of new guys, that on-court familiarity needs to be built so it is integral he plays more regular season minutes with those guys and then can hit the playoffs at full steam. If you have two MVP calibre players, an All-Star and then a First Team All-Defense and DPOY candidate in Brook Lopez all fully ready to go then the Bucks should steamroll the early rounds of the playoffs.

Luna: It will have to be Khris Middleton’s health for me. Even now, Middleton’s health status seems murky to me. The team has been very careful managing his load in practice and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But he might actually be the difference between a surefire championship and a hard-fought Eastern Conference Finals. If Middleton is one of the wings that opposing defenses will have to leave open to double team Lillard or Antetokounmpo, the Bucks go from dominant to downright unstoppable. I think that if he can stay healthy, the Bucks will be one of the favorites to win the championship.

Ridenour: Chemistry. That will be the biggest thing, especially with Lillard arriving fairly late to the Bucks this off-season. There will no doubt be growing pains, and it’ll be obvious the first few weeks of the year, but it’ll eventually smooth out as the season progresses. However, if they can’t get on the same page come January and February…it could become problematic.

Valind: The biggest X-factor for the Bucks this season will be their role players. As we’ve seen in the previous few seasons, the team has tried to surround Antetokounmpo with perimeter shooting threats to kick the ball out to when the defense takes the paint away. Following the acquisition of Lillard, Milwaukee now has two superstars to attract the attention of the defense. It’ll be huge for the role players to be able to step up and make shots to take the pressure off of Antetokounmpo and Lillard.

Moen: How will new coach Adrian Griffin coach with massive expectations? There is the thought that anything less than a championship this year is a disappointment. The team went all in for Damian Lillard, now it’s up to Coach Griffin to make sure Milwaukee reaches their stated goal of bringing back a third championship for Milwaukee.

Griffith: The biggest X factor for Milwaukee this season is finding a successful formula on the defensive end. Milwaukee will have to find a formula that allows them to get stops with their current personnel. The 3-point defense may be the biggest overall factor.

Schickert: Easily MarJon Beauchamp. The Bucks obviously believe in him. Getting to keep him when making the Lillard deal seems like a big deal to me.