The rampant speculation about what’s next for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks has already hit a fever pitch, and it’s not even 24 hours after the team was eliminated from the 2020 playoffs by the Miami Heat.
Aside from the talk about the Greek Freak declining to force a trade and whether he’ll sign a supermax extension with the Bucks, the focus also shifts to how — if at all — the franchise can improve the situation around Antetokounmpo, which could convince him to stay past 2021, when he’s set (for now) to become a free agent.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein threw fuel on that fire:
That’s music to Bucks’ fans’ ears, at least on paper. Eric Bledsoe — who signed a four-year, $70 million extension last year — struggled mightily for the Bucks in the postseason and particularly against the Heat (11.8 ppg on just 32 percent shooting). It looks a lot worse when you consider he got that deal and the Bucks sign-and-traded Malcolm Brogdon and saw him truly blossom as the starting point guard for the Pacers.
Paul would bring more consistency at the point guard position, some veteran savvy and serious drive to finally win an elusive ring, all things the Bucks need.
But it doesn’t cure everything.
Not to put it ALL on Antetokounmpo, but after we saw him take a really positive step forward on his shot — he hit 1.4 of his 4.7 three attempts per game this season — he needs another one.
If opponents don’t worry about his shot, they can sit back and force him inside. In the paint, he’s obviously lethal, but if he’s fouled? That’s another problem: his free-throw percentage actually declined for a career-low 63.3 percent in the regular season and a woeful 58 percent in the postseason.
This quote ESPN’s Tim Bontemps got confirms as much:
“What has he added in the last two years?” an Eastern Conference executive asked of Antetokounmpo. “His 3-point shooting isn’t better. His free throw shooting isn’t better.
“I see him before games, and he’s working hard. But whatever they are doing, it ain’t working.”
Adding Paul and his midrange game, along with his IQ, defense and passing prowess would be terrific. But it’s going to take even more from the Greek Freak if the Bucks want to truly contend in future postseasons.