30 Teams in 30 Days | 2022

30 Teams in 30 Days: Bucks hope healthy roster can take them back to Finals

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee have the pieces -- and depth -- to win another title.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (center), Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday will be looking to lift the Bucks to their 2nd title in the last 3 seasons.

Milwaukee Bucks

2021-22 record: 51-31

Key additions: Joe Ingles (free agency), MarJon Beauchamp (draft)

Key subtractions: None

Last season: Every year, there are teams that come away from the season feeling shortchanged, and in 2021-22 it was the Bucks, who certainly wondered ‘what if’ regarding their playoff run. What if Khris Middleton hadn’t suffered a late injury and missed the playoffs? The Bucks without their co-star took the eventual East champion Celtics to a seventh game in the conference semifinals. Certainly, Middleton would’ve meant a difference, correct? Anyway, the Bucks won 51 games, received another stellar effort from two-time Kia MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and put themselves in position for a title repeat, and that’s all you can ask.

Summer summary: It was mostly quiet in Milwaukee as the Bucks virtually stood pat and, aside from some housecleaning issues, refrained from any major changes in the rotation. This was understandable; the Bucks still have the main ingredients that allowed them to win a title in 2021 and those pieces are still in their prime. And while the Bucks would’ve liked to fortify the fringes of their rotation, their means of doing so were somewhat limited by the salary cap and lack of secondary assets.

And so the most important item on the checklist was extending Bobby Portis. He agreed to a team-friendly extension (with an opt-out) the previous summer, mainly because he loved the city (and the city loved him back) and he knew the team would eventually take care of him down the road.

Well, he reached that intersection this summer and signed a four-year, $48.5 million extension. That’s good value for an energy guy who’s a fan favorite and works well next to Giannis.

Next up was another championship piece, Pat Connaughton. He got three years and $28 million. Connaughton is a good shooter who also brings some serious hops. Again, this was a good value signing by the Bucks, and Connaughton is a good fit in the system.

From there, the Bucks used whatever money was left to keep Serge Ibaka, Wesley Matthews and Jevon Carter, all role players who are mostly on the back end of the rotation.

The most curious, and perhaps underrated, signing was Ingles. He suffered a knee injury last season with the Jazz and will spend much of the upcoming season rehabbing from it. Essentially, the Bucks signed Ingles for the postseason, stashing him in the medical tent until he’s fit and ready in several months. Ingles is a threat from 3-point range (although his efficiency began to fade right before his injury) and could be useful as a floor-spreading X-factor in the playoffs, assuming his recovery goes well.

The Bucks took Beauchamp with the 24th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and the most interesting aspect of the 6-foot-6 swingman is his journey, which has become typical of today’s young players. Beauchamp played for four different high schools, then participated in a training program for six months, then played 12 games with a community college before finally joining Team Ignite in the G League where he played well enough to get first-round status. If nothing else, he could use some stability in his basketball life.

What the Bucks wanted most from the summer is good news on the health front. Brook Lopez played only 13 regular-season games due to a back injury and therefore wasn’t much of a factor last season. Meanwhile, there’s Middleton. He still hasn’t done any contact work and might see very little, if any, in training camp. There’s no guarantee he’ll suit up on Opening Night. In this situation, given his importance to the team, the Bucks will likely have him on a load-management treatment until his body proves he’s ready to go full blast.

Eventually, the Bucks will need to decide on extensions for Middleton and Jrue Holiday, but that’s in the offseasons ahead. This summer, the Bucks chose to stick with the status quo because they could. And it made the most sense.

Previously: Brooklyn Nets

30 teams in 30 days: Complete schedule

* * *

Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.