Bucks Lead

Projecting Milwaukee’s 2019-20 Stat Lines

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The Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks are now an offseason removed from a 60-win season, which sadly ended with a Game 6 exit in the Eastern Conference Finals. First year coach Mike Budenholzer took over a team with great potential and talent, and took them to the next level. Newcomers like Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, Ersan Ilyasova, and George Hill were all huge factors in Milwaukee’s historic season. But the Bucks are far from done.

Offseason Moves

Key Departures: Malcolm Brogdon (IND), Nikola Mirotic (Overseas), Tony Snell (DET)

Key Additions: Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, Robin Lopez, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Dragan Bender, Frank Mason III (Two-Way), Cameron Reynolds (Two-Way)

While losing Brogdon hurts, the Bucks did receive a future 1st-round pick and two future 2nd-round picks in return. They also brought in more-than-capable replacements at his position in Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver. Will either of those guys have 50-40-90 seasons like Brogdon did last season? Probably not, but they don’t have to do that in order to be effective.

Predictions

I am going to give statistical, role, playing time and impact predictions for every player on the 17-man roster (including the two-way players) for the upcoming season. Keep in mind this is with the assumption that Dragan Bender will be the 15th guaranteed player as his deal is not yet guaranteed and will need to earn it in camp.

17. Cameron Reynolds, F

Season Prediction 9.6 MPG | 1.9 PPG | 1.3 RPG | 0.3 APG | 43% FG | 35% 3P

It is pretty safe to assume that Cam Reynolds will not have a large role with the Bucks. Reynolds will see most of his playing time 90 miles north in Oshkosh with the Wisconsin Herd. However, Reynolds does have the capability to be a high impact player for the Herd. In 33 games with the Stockton Kings last season, he put up 16 PPG on 41.9% shooting from deep. In the event of multiple injuries to wing players for the Bucks, Reynolds would bring a sweet shooting stroke to the Bucks’ rotation.

16. Frank Mason III, G

Season Prediction 10.1 MPG | 3.9 PPG | 2.9 APG | 1.0 RPG | 41.3% FG | 34.0% 3P

When I got the notification that Mason was signing with the Bucks as a two-way player, I was pretty surprised. I admit I didn’t know a lot about him, but I knew that he has played a pretty solid role in Sacramento for the last two seasons. I felt like he was a very good player to get on a two-way deal. He will also struggle to see minutes with the Bucks, especially considering the guys ahead of him on the depth chart are Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and Donte DiVincenzo, who the Bucks seem to be very high on. Mason is also likely to see a big role with the Herd and has a chance to be a top G-League player this season.

15. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, G/F

Season Prediction 8.4 MPG | 2.1 PPG | 1.9 RPG | 0.8 APG | 41.6% FG | 29.6% 3P

Thanasis isn’t here to impact the Bucks on the court. We know that. Do I believe he can be a solid role player? Yes, I do. I think with his athleticism, leaping ability and energy on the defensive end, he could be an impact player, especially with the great developmental staff of Mike Budenholzer, and having his MVP brother by his side. I just don’t see him getting enough opportunity in Milwaukee. Thanasis, like Mason and Reynolds, will be key a player for the Herd this season, and he will also be there to support Giannis and company.

14. Dragan Bender, F/C

Season Prediction 11.4 MPG | 3.9 PPG | 2.8 RPG | 0.6 APG | 43.4% FG | 34.6% 3P

The Bucks do not have a rookie this season because they traded away their first round selection this year, but I like to think of Bender as a draft pick for this season. After three underwhelming seasons in the NBA, the 7’1 Bender is still only 21. His play style fits in perfectly with Budenholzer’s system: a stretch big. He isn’t going to be as good as Brook Lopez, or even Ersan Ilyasova, but if the Bucks can help him develop a more consistent jumper, as well as helping him get better on the defensive end, he can become a formidable bench option in this system.

13. D.J. Wilson, F

Season Prediction 16.4 MPG | 5.3 PPG | 3.8 RPG | 1.4 APG | 45.3% FG | 35.6% 3P

After many Bucks fans seemingly wrote Wilson off after a lackluster rookie year, those same fans were calling for Wilson to take all of Ilyasova’s minutes last season. Wilson took a big leap under Budenholzer, which isn’t a coincidence. Wilson is an undersized PF, but his shooting ability, rebounding and quickness make him more versatile than most 4’s in the NBA. He still has several bigs ahead of him on the depth chart, like Giannis, Brook, Robin, and yes, Ersan. Despite that, there will certainly be several games where Wilson will be given a lot of time to show what he can do again.

12. Sterling Brown, G

Season Prediction 16.8 MPG | 5.7 PPG | 2.1 RPG | 1.4 APG | 44.3% FG | 34.7% 3P

I am a massive Sterling Brown fan. He’s inconsistent, sure, but when he’s on, he really does have it all. His biggest quality is his defensive effort. He is one of those guys that the offense absolutely hates having to deal with, because he is so aggressive and is such a nuisance. Sterling is also a good shooter, especially on spot ups, and he is ferocious while attacking the rim. When Brogdon left, I thought Sterling might get an increased role this season, even if the Bucks brought in a new two-guard. Now he is back behind Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver, but he will still be a guy who will come in a be a good spark for the team, especially on the defensive end.

11. Donte DiVincenzo, G

Season Prediction 18.4 MPG | 5.9 PPG | 2.9 APG | 1.4 RPG | 42.3 FG % | 34.2 % 3P

Donte is the guy who will see the biggest role increase from last season. He suffered through injuries through most of his rookie year, but when he played, he was productive. DiVincenzo is a premier athlete, and is very active with his feet and hands on defense. Budenholzer also experimented with him playing some point guard last season, which I expect to translate to this season and years forward as well. His ball handling and distributing ability makes him capable of running point. Because of the two proven veterans above him at that position, he won’t have a premier role with the team, but a combo guard with his athleticism as a fill in player and depth is very ideal.

10. Pat Connaughton, G

Season Prediction 17.4 MPG | 5.4 PPG | 3.4 RPG | 1.4 APG | 46.7% FG | 37.5% 3P

Connaughton saw a career high in usage and minutes during his first season with Milwaukee. He was a pleasant surprise last season. We knew he was very athletic and had an insane vertical, but we didn’t really realize that he actually is a complete player. What he lacks on the defensive end is staying in front of guys and lateral quickness, but he more than often makes up for that with his leaping ability and being able to block shots mid air. And on offense, he is just smart. He isn’t going to shoot the lights out and he isn’t going to be having many 30+ point performances, but he never really makes mistakes. I actually do have him seeing a drop in usage and minutes, but not to any fault of his own. He is just part of a deep wing rotation.

9. Ersan Ilyasova, F

Season Prediction 16.1 MPG | 6.2 PPG | 3.9 RPG | 1.1 APG | 44.3% FG | 35.4% 3P

Ersan Ilyasova is good at basketball. I shouldn’t have to start his paragraph like that, but I feel like I have to with the things I’ve heard/seen Bucks fans say about him. Not only is he a good rebounder for his size, but he is one of the best floor spacing bigs in the league and draws more charges than anybody else in the NBA by wide margin. He forces nearly as many turnovers as the steal-heavy Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo. I have him seeing less minutes than last year because he won’t have to play at the 5 as much with the addition of Robin Lopez, but he should still be a key role player and remains a great fit in the Bucks’ system.

8. Robin Lopez, C

Season Prediction 20.2 MPG | 6.9 PPG | 5.1 RPG | 1.2 APG | 1.4 BPG | 54.3% FG | 28.7% 3P

After the Bucks traded John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova for George Hill last season, the Bucks didn’t really have any true centers outside of Robin’s brother Brook. Guys like Giannis, Ersan, Mirotic and even sometimes DJ Wilson were playing the 5. Now, that changes. Robin is a defensive anchor and post moves genius for the Bucks. He won’t drop threes from the logo like brother Brook, but his inside game and defense prowess will be huge when Brook is on the bench. We have also learned that Robin is going to have the green light from deep, like everyone else on the roster, so we may see some actually “splash brothers” in Milwaukee this season.

7. Kyle Korver, G/F

Season Prediction 20.9 MPG | 7.1 PPG | 2.1 RPG | 0.9 APG | 43.4% FG | 42.7% 3P

What a perfect fit. Literally the most perfect of fits. Korver’s lone all-star appearance was under Mike Budenholzer, and there is no better player for a “let it fly” system than the king of letting it fly himself. I have Korver coming off the bench, but I would completely understand if he started to be able to play with Giannis as much as possible. For most of his career, Korver has been catching and shooting off screens. He will still be doing that a lot this season, but because of the ability of Giannis and Bledsoe to break down the defense and draw help defenders while driving, expect him to take more open catch & shoot threes than ever before.

6. Wesley Matthews, G

Season Prediction 25.3 MPG | 12.2 PPG | 3.1 RPG | 1.9 APG | 44.3% FG | 37.9% 3P

The Marquette alum has returned to Milwaukee on a veteran’s minimum deal. That is a major steal for a player of his caliber. Not a star by any means and not as good as the departing Malcolm Brogdon, but again, going with the common theme, he is a great fit. Matthews can shoot efficiently from the spot up as well as the catch, and he is a very solid defender. He isn’t as quick as he was before a torn Achilles a couple seasons ago, but he still plays with a ton of passion and energy. I have him as the starting shooting guard, and it would be hard to find a team with a fifth best starter better than Wesley Matthews.

5. George Hill, G

Season Prediction 25.9 MPG | 10.4 PPG | 3.9 APG | 2.8 RPG | 45.6% FG | 36.4% 3P

After initially having a slow start in Milwaukee following his trade from Cleveland, Hill became one of the most important players on the team. This season, he will be fully immersed into the system and more comfortable with everyone around him, and he will be one of the top bench players in the league. I believe the only reason he won’t run away with the Sixth-Man award is because he will have to share the wealth with the other great bench players in Korver, Lopez, Ilyasova and others. Look for Hill to play a massive role all season, and he may even have a bigger role in the playoffs if Bledsoe struggles for the third consecutive year.

4. Brook Lopez, C

Season Prediction 27.3 MPG | 13.9 PPG | 5.0 RPG | 1.9 APG | 2.1 BPG | 46.8% FG | 38.6% 3P

Aside from Kawhi Leonard, there was no new player to a team in the NBA that made more of an impact than Brook Lopez last season. After not really fitting for the Lakers the year before, he found a home in Milwaukee and immediately became the top stretch big in the league. And even though he spaces the floor than anybody, he is still elite in post scoring and post defense. Brook will also be able to be given more breaks with a real center behind him in his brother Robin. He more than earned his 4yr/$52M deal this offseason and will be vital to the Bucks’ success for years.

3. Eric Bledsoe, G

Season Prediction 27.9 MPG | 15.9 PPG | 5.9 APG | 3.5 RPG | 1.9 SPG | 46.9% FG | 33.9% 3P
Awards: First All-Star Selection, 2nd Team All-NBA Defense

Eric Bledsoe was chosen to the All-NBA Defensive first team last year, and it was so well deserved. He was a monster on-ball defender, and he had so many chase down blocks for a guy his size. He has always been inconsistent on offense, and that likely won’t change this season, but because of a locked in and comfortable proven veteran behind him in George Hill, I believe Bledsoe will have less pressure on himself to perform than normal, and he will have a very efficient offensive season. I also have him making his first ever All-Star team this season.

2. Khris Middleton

Season Prediction 31.1 MPG | 21.2 PPG | 6.1 RPG | 3.4 APG | 1.5 SPG | 45.6% FG | 37.8% 3P
Awards: Second All-Star Selection

Despite last season technically being a down year for Middleton in shooting, he was still selected to his first NBA All-Star game. He was forced to change his game last year in the new system, as Budenholzer wanted to eliminate as many mid-range shots as possible, but Middleton thrived in the mid-range game. This year, I expect him to be more comfortable in this system, and I also expect him to be the guy to take on most of the scoring void left by Malcolm Brogdon. Obviously Wesley Matthews will fill much of that void, but I expect Middleton to be more aggressive, knowing that he is an All-Star, and knowing what it felt like to miss the finals  by just two games. Expect Middleton to have a career year.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, F

Season Prediction 33.4 MPG | 28.4 PPG | 11.6 RPG | 5.4 APG | 1.8 BPG | 1.5 SPG | 51.4% FG | 34.1% 3P
Awards: Fourth All-Star Selection, 1st Team All-NBA, 1st Team All-NBA Defense, MVP Runner-Up

I’m sorry, I don’t have Giannis winning back-to-back MVP’s. That honor, in my prediction, goes to Steph Curry. Giannis is still going to be elite, of course, and he will lead this Bucks team to another very deep run into the playoffs. In my opinion, this is the best supporting cast the Bucks have ever put around Giannis, and he’s going to take advantage of it. The biggest difference for Giannis this year is that I believe he will finally┬ábecome a good shooter from deep. He won’t be shoot 40+ percent or taking a ton of threes per game, but he will have to be respected.

Overall Bucks Season Predictions

Record: 58-24

I know I said this is the best supporting cast, so saying they’ll have a worse record than last year is probably odd. But having 60 wins is so difficult, especially back to back years. No team will figure out how to stop this dominant offensive team, but they will have a better idea of how to slow it down.

Ranking Scoring Leaders:

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.4)
  2. Khris Middleton (21.2)
  3. Eric Bledsoe (15.9)
  4. Brook Lopez (13.9)
  5. Wesley Matthews (12.2)
  6. George Hill (10.4)
  7. Kyle Korver (7.1)
  8. Robin Lopez (6.9)
  9. Ersan Ilyasova (6.2)
  10. Donte DiVincenzo (5.9)
  11. Sterling Brown (5.7)
  12. Pat Connaughton (5.4)
  13. D.J. Wilson (5.3)
  14. Dragan Bender (3.9)
  15. Frank Mason III (3.9)
  16. Thanasis Antetokounmpo (2.1)
  17. Cam Reynolds (1.9)

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About Nick Niles

I'm Nick Niles! I was born in Green Bay Wisconsin, raised in Appleton Wisconsin, and now I'm back in Green Bay at UW-GB studying Political Science and Public Administration. I have been a huge Bucks fan for as long as I have been alive, and I'm also passionate about writing. Twitter: @Bucks_Deluxe | @Nilesmania

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