The Milwaukee Bucks are on the precipice of something special, and for a city that has tasted a championship but one time in it’s existence, the future brings a hope that hasn’t been seen since the ‘Big Three’ era of Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell.
On Monday, in Brooklyn against the Nets, a game that the Bucks probably had no business winning coming on the second night of a back-to-back, the upstart Bucks cemented their place as one of the Eastern Conference’s must-watch League Pass teams, and put the rest of the NBA on notice that the Deer is rising, with a 122-118 triple-overtime win.
The young Bucks, led by a new trio (not quite a Big Three, yet) in Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brandon Knight, drowned out the external noise, and jeering of head coach Jason Kidd’s return to his former workplace. Kidd, an expert at focusing on the task at hand, was not fazed by the prolonged booing, saying: “I have bad hearing, anyway. Whatever the greeting was, it’s about the players. Fans don’t come to see coaches.”
Under Kidd’s leadership the Bucks have risen to become one of the top defensive teams in the NBA – albeit 12 games is a small sample size – but, more importantly, he has them believing they can achieve something special this season. Already they lie in fourth place in the Eastern Conference (7-5), but according to Antetokounmpo, there’s hope for more.
“I don’t want to put promises out there,” said the Greek forward, “But I feel that this team can do really special things this year. All the guys believe in it; we just gotta keep working.”
Both Antetokounmpo and Parker have the potential to become transcendent talents in the NBA. Antetokounmpo, for one, is relishing playing under a Hall-of-Fame point guard like Kidd. His scoring has almost doubled from his rookie season (12.3 ppg, up from 6.8), while his shooting has also improved greatly (53.3%, up from 41.4%).
Parker, the rookie, still needs time to develop, but possesses a crazy skill-set for a guy with his size.
As exciting as their talented, super-athletic but raw trio can possibly be, the Bucks still need time to develop. As it stands they are 23rd in the NBA in points per game, plus their true shooting percentage is bad enough to find themselves in the lower tier of NBA teams ( 51.9% – ahead of just five teams).
These Bucks will not be judged solely on what they accomplish this season, though, but on how they develop over the next two-to-three years. That will be on Kidd, that’s why he left Brooklyn – to take over a promising young group, one that he could mold for himself.
“At the end of April, if hypothetically we can make it to the playoffs, we can exhale and say, ‘Did we get better for the school year?” Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel prior to the season tip-off. “I look at it as a school year. It’s being able to say, ‘We passed a couple classes. Did we have to redo a class?'”
So far the move to Milwaukee is looking like one Kidd’s smartest basketball plays more as the days go by.