2022-23 Kia Season Preview

2022-23 Season Preview: Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee are among the favorites to win the NBA title.

The Bucks’ roster is mostly intact after falling short of the NBA Finals last season.

Brooklyn always grabs the most headlines. Philadelphia’s James Harden got serious summer social media play with an apparent rededication physically. Boston was in the news (for unhappy reasons) right before camps opened. Meanwhile, the Bucks quietly went about their offseason prep as an almost overlooked contender to win it all in 2023.

In hindsight, one might argue that some jockeying around for playoff seeding (which cost home court in Game 7 vs. Boston) and Khris Middleton’s sprained knee in the first round against Chicago spoiled Milwaukee’s solid shot at a repeat championship. But there were signs throughout 2021-22 that it was going to be a part-afterglow, part-exhale season. The issue now is, can the Bucks open that title window again and, if so, for how long?

The wondrous Giannis Antetokounmpo, if mostly healthy, makes them an every-spring threat. The Bucks are built to win their way, favoring 3-point barrages around the Greek Freak and a dare-you-to-make-it defense. But this is an older, high-mileage team: Middleton is 31, Jrue Holiday 32 and five others are 33 to 36. Milwaukee knows how to win but might be better off if the postseason began in January.


What has Giannis done for us lately? Harsh, sure. But such is life when your resume, talents and age mount a persuasive case that you’re the best player in the league. Two MVPs, a Defensive Player of the Year award, an NBA title and a Finals MVP trophy are Hall of Fame-assuring. But all of that came at age 26 and younger. What did the legends of this league achieve between age 27 and, let’s say, 33? That’s a six- or seven-year prime demanding, at least, another Finals trip and additional hardware to push into all-time Top 10 consideration.


Once again, the Bucks will begin a season with the end in mind, a self-help standard that permits top contenders to pace themselves mentally but mostly physically. Given some of their recent and past injuries, this is a must. But eventually, Middleton and Holiday are going to have to play like their best selves again, Allen or someone else needs to make the shooting guard spot his own and that infernal “drop” defense will have to hold once more against a crafty counter-attacking league. Projection: Playoffs.


2,339 — The Bucks and their opponents combined for an NBA-record 2,339 3-pointers last season. On offense, they were the only team in the top seven in both 3-point percentage (36.6%, fifth) and 3-point rate (43.0%, sixth). On defense, they ranked 19th in opponent 3-point percentage (35.6%), but had the league’s second-highest opponent 3-point rate, with 44.8% of their opponents’ shots coming from beyond the arc. The Bucks have three of the seven highest marks for opponent 3-pointers per game in the 43 years of the 3-point line, including a record 14.8 per game in 2020-21.

— John Schuhmann


Jrue Holiday: Long considered a stellar two-way player but the playoffs suggested he soon might thrive at either end, not both.

Grayson Allen: Budenholzer gave the feisty guard as much responsibility as he could handle, though it proved too much by the end.

Khris Middleton: Giannis’ indispensable wing man could have to ease into the season after recovering from a left knee strain and left wrist surgery.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: The only guy in NBA history to average at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in four seasons might be tuckered from his EuroBasket work with Greece?

Brook Lopez: The man in the middle has made Milwaukee’s defense work, but he was a clanky 6-of-28 (21.4%) from three in the postseason and a 32.8% bet from the arc the past three years.


Pat Connaughton: Key reserve was one of four Bucks to hit 39% or more of their 3-point attempts.

George Hill: Savvy vet needs to show he has something left in his tank, or Jevon Carter will take more of the minutes backing up Holiday.

Joe Ingles: Had shown signs of slippage even before his torn left ACL last winter, but a full return could add facets to the Bucks’ attack.

Bobby Portis: “Bob-BEE” got paid this offseason and could be a Sixth Man candidate again (as much as bigs are considered).

Wesley Matthews: His challenge is staying spry and healthy enough to shadow wing scorers in a deep playoff run.


How the Bucks have fared stats-wise over the last 5 seasons …

Season W L PCT OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank Playoffs
2021-22 51 31 0.622 114.3 3 111.1 14 +3.2 8 X
2020-21 46 26 0.639 116.5 5 110.7 9 +5.8 4 X
2019-20 56 17 0.767 111.9 8 102.5 1 +9.4 1 X
2018-19 60 22 0.732 113.5 4 104.9 1 +8.6 1 X
2017-18 44 38 0.537 109.0 10 109.1 18 -0.2 20 X

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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