Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks’ breakout player will be…

Milwaukee has a Malcolm Brogdon sized hole at shooting guard and no imminent option to fill it even though they have a plethora of players in Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, Donte DiVincenzo, Pat Connaughton and Sterling Brown all fighting for regular spots in the rotation. Entering the 2019-20 season, Brown looks most capable of breaking out and providing the Bucks with the extra depth they need. He flashed at certain points last year and was even the starter for the first round of the playoffs against the Detroit Pistons. He also has the size and potential shooting ability to fill in on the perimeter on both ends of the floor, and will get every opportunity to rise to the challenge.

It all goes wrong if…

The Bucks are unable to consistently create shots for one another in their five-out offense. Last year, head coach Mike Budenholzer installed a scheme that allowed his players to roam the perimeter and create open looks for one another. However, that means someone must be able to take their man off the bounce and either create for themselves or others. Last year, only Brogdon, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe averaged more than 10 drives per game. With Brogdon moving on, it leaves a real void. Although Khris Middleton is a great player, he lacks the explosiveness to create consistent separation using his dribble. If Milwaukee is unable to rely on Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe or if another wing doesn’t step up and provide shot creation, it could be a more difficult year than anticipated.

What we’ll be saying about Bucks at the end of the season…

After just one season, Milwaukee quickly jumped the phase where the regular season matters. They didn’t make any bold proclamations about winning 60-plus games at Media Day, and seemed focused on improving every day and getting another shot at reaching the NBA Finals. We won’t know anything new or different at the end of the regular season that we don’t already know now. Instead, we’ll have to wait until the playoffs to see what this team is really made of and whether they’re ready to take the next step toward winning an NBA Championship.

Final prediction

Vegas has the Bucks’ win total set at 56.5 for the upcoming season, and that seems like a pretty fair assessment. In my mind, Milwaukee is clearly a better team and could easily win 60 games if they put the pedal to the medal. Although they don’t have the same amount of top-end talent as some other teams, their pieces fit a lot smoother. However, Milwaukee might have a hard time staying focused and motivated to win 60-some games this season. I don’t get the feeling they’re especially motivated to get the top seed in the East, and nobody beside the Philadelphia 76ers will likely be close to them. That means they can cruise to a two-seed without having to over-exert themselves in the regular season. Still, 57 wins is very doable for this squad and I have them covering the over.

Final prediction: 57-25

Brian Sampson (@BucksFilmRoom)