Bryce Taylor raised a very fun (and important) topic in the FanPosts that we thought deserved front page treatment: what will it take to make the coming season a success? Check out Bryce's take below and give us you thoughts in the comments! - Frank Madden
Last week, I ran into a guy at the airport who just left his job working on the video team for an NBA franchise. Given my intense interest in all things NBA, especially scouting and player development, we had an awesome talk. While his professional time wasn't spent putting much film about Milwaukee together, he was still eager to talk hoops.
He asked me a question that got me talking for the next 20 minutes.
"What would make the Bucks' 2014-15 season a success? Don't say 'more wins.' Don't say 'Jabari winning ROY.' And don't say 'Giannis improving.' Those are things most NBA reporters all expect to happen. What specifically do you want to see?"
Here I am, an eager Bucks fan just sitting in an airport reading all sorts of overreactions to Summer League on Twitter (and getting excited because I am buying inů) and a total stranger happens to ask me a fantastic question. I took a deep breath, played a quick video montage in my head of my favorite Giannis and Jabari moments from SL, and here is what I told him.
#1: Learn if he is our guy. If Jason Kidd is really our guy, if he is truly all-in on this project, I want to see it. I want to see him teach, strategize, and most importantly, lead. I want to see him disappointed, even mad, after a bad loss; I want to see him high-five his way up and down the bench when we get a win; I want to hear stories about him staying in the gym with Giannis and Jabari until they get every single detail of his new play down.
I don't care how Kidd got here, I care about what he will do now that he is here. By next season, I want to know if Kidd is the coach that this team needs.
#2: Find a team identity. What type of team is this? Will they plan to just let Giannis run the court in three strides? Are we going to see an emphasis on getting the ball to Jabari/John Henson/Larry Sanders in the post? Or is this a three-and-D unit that will take risks? Personally, I always felt like a clear identity was missing under Larry Drew's system, so I want to see a clear line drawn on that spiffy BMOHBC floor: this is our team identity, you play this way or you don't play. We need something for players (as well as coaches and scouts) to buy into, and this season is where that will be born.
#3: Find a personal identity. How does Larry fit into this team? Ersan? BK? Pick a Buck, any of them. What you will find is varying opinions from NBA reporters, bloggers, fans and your next-door neighbor about their role on the team. I want to learn who our fourth-quarter guy is, who is Mr. Clutch for the Bucks? Who becomes the on/off-the-court leader? How does each guy on the bench fit into the vision for this team?
The Bucks are staffed with many young players, ready to learn. Kendall Marshall, Nate Wolters, Damien Inglis, John Henson and so on, all have some level of talent that got them here, but can it be developed, and, more importantly, does it fit with the vision laid out by Kidd and John Hammond? If not, time to move on from them.
#4: Development for specific players. While I want every player to get better (who doesn't?), I will say that there are three that I am incredibly excited to watch grow: Giannis, Jabari, and Larry. I bought into Larry Sanders two years ago. Funny, during that summer league, (you know, where Larry would commit like 15 fouls per game), I campaigned for the Bucks to trade him for any asset that they could get. Then, after a series of double-doubles and block parties, I realized that the guy is finding his place on this team.
Then 2013-2014 happened, and I died inside. Like many of you, I was fed up with Larry and really starting to consider any deal to get him out of here around the draft (Hey, SAC, want him for #8?) but then I changed my mind. I wish I could offer a better argument, but I guess it is a gut thing (hopelessly optimistic?).
And for Giannis and Jabari, well, no words need to be said there.
#5: Have fun. Last season was not fun for the team or the fans. There is so much interest and excitement around the Bucks this year that I really hope to see the players have fun out there. In a Summer League interview that Jason Kidd conducted, he referred to playing playground-style basketball (almost like position-less, just the five best players you have). I think that a style like that would help these young guys have fun, and in turn, make them better players.
The common theme here: improvement. It can come in many different ways, but I believe it will come.