Hello everybody. Welcome back to Bucksnation.com and another Bango’s Minute. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Bango’s Minute Episode III:
Built to Stay?
Heading into the 2018-19 season, we had no clue that the Milwaukee Bucks would perform at the level that they did. We figured that we could realistically, at best, reach the 4 or 5 seed. The only glimmer of hope that we may do better came from the team’s new center, Brook Lopez. Here’s what he said about the Bucks as training camps were just around the corner. “Absolutely, we feel like that. We definitely think the East is wide open. It’s going to be such a fun, exciting time in the East and it’s going to be super competitive. There are a lot of teams that can do [big] things, from Toronto to Boston to Philly – you just go down the list and it’s clear that the East is as exciting as it’s been in a long time. I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.” Would that be true? Only time could tell. This might not have even been a case of Brook Lopez being sure the Bucks would perform, but a case of Brook being overconfident and too optimistic. Stick with me. The reason I say that is because John Wall said almost the exact same thing about the Washington Wizards, a team that finished with a record of 32-50, and an 11th place finish in the Eastern Conference. But the hype train kept growing, with Fiserv.Forum opening, and the “Built to Stay” campaign growing. Eventually, the Bucks had a very successful season. A lot of this success came from their depth and their stars showing up and performing, day in and day out. Heading into this season, I wondered if we would be performing at the level that we did last season. After the season is around half way over, I can say with utmost confidence that we have overperformed last season, at least up to this point. I did ask myself a question recently, though. Will we be able to keep this up in the upcoming seasons? Today on Bango’s Minute, are the Milwaukee Bucks “Built to Stay”?
To do this, I want to start off by looking at the “Stages of Team Building,” a theory made by Dr. Bruce Tuckman in a 1965 article of his. The first stage, is forming. The Bucks have obviously formed a great team. Sure, comparing themselves to a team that had around the same number of wins in a season, the 1997-98 Bulls (62-20) had much more talent on the surface, with Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, and Michael Jordan. The Bucks best three, consists of Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and Giannis. The team also has great depth, making a huge advantage when the starters are on the bench. However, looking into the latter stages, I feel like this team was really “formed” a few years ago, around the time when Giannis won the MIP. Eric Bledsoe was just an “addition” to the team. Next, we get to norming. I feel that the bucks are lucky that they had a bad supporting cast when Giannis was young. Back then, he was prepared to stay with us since we drafted him, and we were really all he knew. Now, he is smarter as a businessman, and would consider jumping ship if we weren’t good enough. I say this, because we would have had a lot more issues in the “storming” phase if we were more put together. We would have had more arguments, and things may have fell apart quickly, especially with Jason Kidd as the predominant leader in the locker room. Next, we get to performing. With this stage, I would go as far as to say that the Milwaukee Bucks hit it at just the perfect time. If we would have begun performing just a year earlier, chemistry may have been a bigger problem, considering that Eric Bledsoe had just been traded onto the team, and that things weren’t going great with Jabari Parker. If we would have started performing later, like this season, then Khris Middleton may have left, and I could confidently say that if this happened, then Giannis wouldn’t have been in Milwaukee much longer. Here, a question comes up. How long can we perform at this level? Well, personally, I would say it depends on how we perform this season. That may not seem like much, but it leads to something bigger. Here, is where I address the elephant in the room. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s impending free agency. Now, Giannis can earn much more money if he stays with the Bucks, rather than signing with another team. Giannis has been on record saying that there is something a little more important than this to him. There was a report that Giannis stated that his decision would heavily depend on how the Bucks perform this season. He would later deny that, saying “We have a goal, which is to play ’til the end, and I’m not going to talk about my free agency at all this season, I’m not going to distract my teammates. The attention isn’t going to be on me, it’s going to be on this team and what we’ve got to do to win.” If Giannis stays, who knows how long the Bucks will be able to stay on top. If he goes, the team will head back into the frustrating stage of rebuilding. That would take us to the last stage of team building, adjourning.
But let’s face it, no Bucks players, staff, or fans are focusing on the end. They are focusing on the now. This brings up another question. How long will the now last? How many more years will the team perform at the highest level. How many more shots at the championship will we have. How long until this era ends. Well, there isn’t a way to know the answer to any of these questions. But, we can look at some factors that will contribute to this, to try and get a good idea of what the answer may be. “Is it their star power?” asks Tom Oats, writer for the Wisconsin State Journal. “Their bench? Their defense? Their resiliency? Their consistency? No, it’s their chemistry,” he says. “I think the chemistry that this group has has been cooking in the oven really since the summer ,” said coach, MikeBudenholzer, citing the players’ penchant for getting together for non-mandatory workouts and open gyms throughout the offseason. “All of that was happening before there was a single win. And you could see it and feel it at that time, in that phase. To be honest with you, the day I got here, (I saw that) this is a group that likes each other, that gets along. I think there’s a respect for each other, an understanding of each other that’s in a really good place.” The players know that they have their own agenda, and that other players have their own agendas, too. Still, the team manages to stick together, recognizing that they need to perform as a team for every player to do what they want to do. But chemistry, is just one part of the puzzle. Another part, is confidence. “We stay humble, hungry, and we keep trying to play good basketball,” says Giannis. “I don’t think there’s a team in this league we cannot beat.” The thing is, it’s not just him saying that. Other players and teams in the league agree with him. That confidence from the team, and the recognition from other teams, is great motivation that is helping push the team forward. Finally, I want to touch on what last week’s Bango’s Minute (which you can find on BucksNation.com) was based on. How Giannis, and the team, are revolutionizing the game. Here is what Nicolas Batum (Forward, Charlotte Hornets) said on Giannis, prior to the NBA Paris Game. “For his height, he is a unique player. What he is achieving is unbelievable. He has revolutionized the game a bit in his own way. He is efficient on the court, he is a pure basketball player.” Not only us Bucks fans recognize this. Other players do, too.
The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the most impressive teams in the league. They are performing at a high level, and impressing people all around the league with how they do it. Hopefully, the Bucks can stay at the top of the league for a long, long time.
Thank You for reading this week’s edition of Bango’s Minute, and GO BUCKS!