The Milwaukee Bucks are excited for the upcoming season. After winning the 2021 NBA Finals, they ran out of gas against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, and were left wondering what could have been had just a few plays gone their way throughout that series.
Still, the Bucks are in a great spot for the upcoming season. They have arguably the best player in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo on their roster right now, and a strong supporting cast around him that has quickly turned the Bucks into one of the top teams in the league.
As the Bucks prepare for the upcoming season, it's clear they have championship aspirations once again. But there are a few burning questions surrounding the team with training camp approaching that could determine just how far they can go this season. Let's take a look at two such questions and examine why they are so important for the Bucks moving forward.
2. Will Grayson Allen be able to make the Bucks shooting guard position his own?
With Donte DiVincenzo out to start the 2021-22 season for the Bucks, that opened up a role for Grayson Allen in the Bucks starting lineup that he ultimately didn't relinquish throughout the season. Allen was the Bucks starting shooting guard for much of the season thanks to his ability to space the floor alongside Antetokounmpo and hold his own on defense.
For the most part, Allen held his own last season, but his limitations were shown against the Celtics in the postseason. He hit just 20.8 percent of his threes throughout the seven game series, and was constantly picked on by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown when he was on defense. It was quite a turnaround considering Allen hit 58.3 percent of his threes in the series before against the Chicago Bulls.
Allen will head into the season as the Bucks starting shooting guard, but that doesn't mean things will stay that way all season long. Pat Connaughton has been a solid bench player for Milwaukee recently, and he made a case down the stretch of the season that he should be starting rather than Allen. Connaughton shot far better than Allen against the Celtics (42.4 percent from behind the arc) and held up much better on defense as well.
Connaughton's high floor probably makes him a safer bet than Allen, but Allen has more potential to be a gamechanger when comparing the two. For that reason, Allen will probably start the season as the team's starting shooting guard, but given the Bucks depth at the guard position, it may not stay that way for long if he struggles to start the season.
1. Will Khris Middleton be ready for the start of the Bucks 2022-23 season?
Of course, the Bucks could technically slide Khris Middleton from small forward to shooting guard and run a double big lineup with Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis. But given how Antetokounmpo is basically a big man himself, that probably wouldn't work. It's also no sure thing that Middleton will even be ready for the start of the 2022-23 season, and that's easily the biggest question surrounding the Bucks right now.
A big reason the Bucks think they were unlucky last season is because Middleton missed the entire series against Boston with a sprained MCL, and they still managed to push the series to seven games. Not only has Middleton had to recover from that injury, but he also underwent surgery on his wrist this offseason that could end up holding him out for the start of the season.
Middleton's status is the biggest question surrounding the Bucks right now. When he's on the court alongside Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee is very nearly unbeatable. His ability to space the floor, create shots for himself, and play strong defense is crucial to the Bucks success.
The hope is that Middleton's offseason of recovery will help him stay on the court for this upcoming season. It's clear Milwaukee is a different team with him on the floor, and if he can't go to start the season, it will immediately throw the Bucks rotation into flux. As previously mentioned, Allen isn't exactly a sure thing at shooting guard, and if Middleton is out, they will have to find someone else to fill that role.
The good news is that the Bucks are deep enough to absorb Middleton missing the start of the season, which still may not even need to happen. Of course, Milwaukee would rather have Khris Middleton on the floor than have him on the sidelines watching, which is why his status for the start of the season is the most important question surrounding the Bucks as they head into training camp.