So perhaps I was a little overconfident back in October when talking about the Milwaukee Bucks being on the cusp of a great season. To be fair, I never said “great”; I said “good”. But with a final record of 33-49, sitting them at 12th in the Conference and last in the Division, the Bucks were in fact a bad team.
Sure, you can point to the – never-mind, every bright-stat is balanced by a black hole. These eye-charts make me want to look away for more reasons than one.
As much-better teams continue in the playoffs for what seems like an eternity, let’s take a moment and examine the three points I made before the season regarding why it was time to be a real Bucks fan, how I missed the mark on those points, and why things are still looking up.
New owners with money and ideas. New-ish owners with money, some ideas.
Last year I was excited to see what the new owners brought to Milwaukee; I liked the free swag, fresh entertainment, and new options at the aging BMO. But year 2 brought little new to the table. The one major exception, and perhaps the biggest reason to doubt my last sentence, was “Milwaukee Mondays.” This idea of giving local music acts center-stage during halftime, sponsored by 88Nine RadioMilwaukee, was a fantastic way to both support local artists and encourage a more diverse crowd at the games. Keep the Milwaukee-love pouring into the arena, and the money will follow.
New stadium and neighborhood. Fan attendance was 5th-lowest in the league
There’s a reason the BMO is getting torn down: it’s old and uninviting. Last season got us excited with the promise of a new arena and new owners, but this season gave us delays and political posturing that even a new logo couldn’t help. The news was stale and not enough to make us want to walk those cold, hard steps to the nosebleeds again. But this June should bring the groundbreaking for the new arena in Park East, and the next couple of years of constant construction next door will remind us of the newness coming.
New, young, talented team. We’ve got talented players, but a bad team.
I don’t have the back-room insights for the Bucks that Rob does for the Brewers, but I did spend a lot of nights watching some talented young men play horrendous basketball. I’ll accept that a chunk of the problem stems from most of the guys being young and playing with talented but non-leader veterans. Keep them together in Milwaukee and that inevitably improves.
But I’m concerned with Coach Kidd and his inability to put the right guys on the court at the right time. The rumors that started in Brooklyn never seemed to die: Kidd doesn’t want to be coach, he wants more. I’m open to keeping him in the organization, but I’m not convinced Kidd cares enough about his current position to effectively develop this batch of young players.
Even with the disappointing record and the issues I see with the organization, there’s little doubt that the Bucks are on an overall upward projection. After sitting down to write an article bemoaning the state of affairs in Park East, instead I find myself standing by what I wrote months ago: “Milwaukee is not only lucky enough to have an NBA team in our city, but an exciting and (hopefully, sometime soon) good one at that. Join me in cheering them on like they deserve. Fear the Deer.”