30 teams in 30 days: No Freak accident - Bucks could surprise


30 teams in 30 days: No Freak accident - Bucks could surprise

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Milwaukee Bucks.

When Kobe Bryant was doling out expectations for some of the NBA’s brightest stars, there was a noticeable omission: Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.
So, Antetokounmpo reached out to Bryant via social media basically saying, ‘what about me?’

The Black Mamba responded with a pretty cut-and-dry challenge – become the league’s MVP.

Antetokounmpo will be in the conversation for sure, especially after being named an All-Star last season.

He averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals per game.
The 6-foot-11 point forward became the first player since LeBron James in 2008-2009 to lead his team in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots.
But for the Greek Freak to come away with the league’s highest individual honor, Milwaukee will have to rack up a few more wins than last season’s 42-40 finish and likely advance past the first round of the playoffs, which they have not done since 2001.
They should benefit from a roster that remains relatively intact and seems poised to build off of last season’s postseason berth, where they were eliminated in the first round by Toronto in six games.
Despite not having a bona-fide, knockdown shooter (although Khris Middleton is pretty darn close), the Bucks were among the league’s best shooting teams in connecting on 47.4 percent of their shots which ranked fourth in the NBA.
However, the Bucks had their share of issues defensively despite having the kind of length at every position that, on paper at least, would lead one to believe they were one of the league’s better teams defensively.
But the numbers tell a different story, with the most noticeable being their defensive rating of 106.4, which ranked 19th in the NBA, tied with Houston and Philadelphia, a pair of defensively-challenged teams from last season.
Still, through the playoff series loss and the defensive challenges come growth, the kind that has the Bucks poised as one of the potential surprise teams in the East this season.
In addition to Antetokounmpo, the Bucks return a lineup that includes rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon (the first second-round pick to ever win the award), Jabari Parker, Middleton, as well as increased depth with Tony Snell, John Henson and Thon Maker.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: None.
Key losses:  Michael Beasley (free agent to New York).
Rookies of note:
D.J. Wilson.

Expectations: 48-34 (Second in the Central Division, fourth in the East)

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Those pesky Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around even before Yahoo's Chris Mannix mentioned the Celtics were "scared" of Kyrie Irving heading there next summer. They picked up steam this week with another report of The Big Apple as a destination for Irving and Jimmy Butler to join forces.

Now, ESPN's NBA Forecast Panel gives the Knicks a slight edge over the Celtics to land Irving, 46.9 percent to  43.8 percent.

Here's part of the panel's explanation on ESPN's "The Jump": 

It would take some salary-cap machinations for New York to lure Irving to play close to where he grew up in West Orange, N.J. They would likely have to risk losing Kristaps Porzingis in free agency next summer by not giving him a big-money extension this season. 

There's also a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency next summer as the Knicks - playoff-less since 2013 and title-less for 45 years - make another attempt to spend their way back to relevance. 

Irving has made it clear he's not going to cost himself millions by signing an extension with the C's this season ("Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense”) and is headed to free agency, so, with training camp more than a month away, get used to a season full of questions about his future. And expect the Knicks speculation to heat up before the four C's-Knicks games (Oct. 20 and Feb. 6 in New York and Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 in Boston). 


Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge was busy on Twitter late last night poking a little fun at a couple of his players.

Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, wondered where the defense was in a video of "Scary" Terry Rozier playing in a pickup game with Wizards guard John Wall and other NBAers. 

A little good-natured payback for Rozier's FaceTime interruption of Ainge's drafting of Robert Williams back in June?

A few minutes before his Rozier tweet, Ainge saw a video tweeted by Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton of Jaylen Brown showing his skills on the piano at the Berkeley campus' Sproul Plaza. Brown spent a year at Cal before being drafted by Boston in 2016.

Ainge couldn't resist a jab at Brown's ball-handling skills. 

So, Celtics players, post those Twitter videos at your own risk because the boss is watching.