It’s no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks absolutely do not want to lose Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s a 2 time MVP (back to back) and one of the most dynamic players in the league. He’d almost be unguardable if he had a reliable jump shot and could hit free throws at a reasonable clip. Still, the Bucks fell short after having the best record in the eastern conference for the second year in a row.
Now, many would ask why a team would be so quick to make a change and give up two key players and 3 first round picks, when you’re coming off of a season where you had the number one seed in the east, and have arguably the best player in the league. Wouldn’t it make sense to sit tight, maybe add a piece and run it back? I think the fact that the Bucks chose to not go that route is an indictment on how they feel about their current crop of talent. Yes, Eric Bledsoe and George Hill are good players, but they aren’t players that you can count on to bring it every night. At best, maybe 2 of 5 outings they’ll play to their potential and in the playoffs, that prospect becomes even less likely. Take Eric Bledsoe for instance. In the 2019 – 2020 postseason, he averaged just 11.7 ppg, 5.9 assists and 4.6 rebs per game and 38% shooting in 9 games played. And honestly, those numbers look a lot better than he actually seemed to play in real time. No doubt the Bucks want a bit more of a contribution from their starting point guard. And while George Hill is serviceable as a backup, you won’t hesitate to include him in a deal that could potentially land you a much better player. Enter Jrue Holiday.
Over the last few seasons, Holiday has established himself as one of the best 2-way players in the league, although the average basketball fan probably wouldn’t know it. He’s efficient on the offensive end, doesn’t rush or force his shot and looks to get others involved. He’s already shown he’s capable of co-existing with a player who is considered franchise caliber, Anthony Davis, and has shown that he can help win games on the offensive or defensive end. So of course you pull that trigger if you have the opportunity. And more than likely, as long as Giannis Is on the team, those first round picks won’t be as valuable as they might look.
So yes, making such a change does signal that the Bucks knew having Eric Bledsoe and George Hill running the show was a recipe for mediocrity. And that would open the door for Giannis to quickly run out of patience at the thought of wasting his best years in a small market, on a team that has by all accounts underachieved the last couple of seasons. But he still has to sign that extension. He still has to be convinced that his more will propel his team to the point where they can make the eastern conference finals and inevitably the NBA Finals, where he can finally get his elusive championship.