The Milwaukee Bucks are on a mission to reclaim the NBA championship they last won in 2021. The Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo fronts the squad again, fresh from a stint at the 2022 FIBA Eurobasket. Flanking him are Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Brook Lopez. Is that a deep enough core to carry the Bucks back to the zenith, though? We have our doubts so here we'll discuss four reasons the Milwaukee Bucks won't win the 2023 NBA championship.
Keep in mind that earlier this year, if Khris Middleton had been healthy, the Bucks may have won a second consecutive title. As such, it makes sense that they didn't do too many big changes during the off-season. The Bucks did re-sign Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, and Wes Matthews, three crucial rotation players. They also have Jevon Carter and Serge Ibaka for depth.
The wild card is swingman Joe Ingles, who, with his shooting and passing abilities, could be a really useful player for them. That is as long as can return healthy and get his legs under him before the playoffs.
Given this context, here are four reasons the Milwaukee Bucks won't win the 2023 NBA championship.
4. The Bucks are aging and just not deep enough
For the most part, the Bucks' strategy has worked, and they expect it to do so again next season. Their wombo combo of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday is one of the best in the league. Even in the 2022 NBA playoffs when they were forced to face the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs without Middleton, they still did well. Keep in mind that they managed to push that series to seven games. Had Middleton played, it would have been a much different outcome.
Having said that, simply running things back may not work in 2022-23. One big factor is that the Bucks are getting older. They currently have eight players who are 30 years old or older on their roster, with four guys who are 34 or older. These are George Hill (36), Joe Ingles (34), Brook Lopez (34), and Wes Matthews (35). Not surprisingly, the Bucks also currently have the oldest average age of any team in the NBA (yes, even older than the Los Angeles Lakers) at 29.2 years old.
That is on top of the fact that the Bucks made no substantial off-season additions to make the team younger. In all, the Bucks are getting older and not getting any deeper.
3. The East is too stacked
The Eastern Conference will be completely stacked next season. There are nine teams who are reasonably vying for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals and maybe the NBA Finals.
— Enzo Flojo (@hoopnut) October 2, 2022
It's clear that the days of the Western Conference being the vastly deeper conference compared to the Eastern Conference are passed. In the 2022-23 season, we have a slew of clubs that are going all-in for an NBA title. For sure, teams now understand that mediocrity is no longer an option. You either go big or go home, in a manner of speaking. Teams have just two directions now — go all-in for a championship or go all-in on tanking to rebuild through the draft.
Last season, the Boston Celtics reached the NBA Finals, defeating several extremely great teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat. The Celtics are retooling their squad in the hopes of repeating their Finals success, including the additions of Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. Their current issues with disgraced head coach Ime Udoka have thrown a wrench in their machinations, though.
As for the rest of the conference, the Heat and 76ers will surely be back as primary challengers, while other teams, such as the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers have improved. There's also the Brooklyn Nets featuring one of the league's most talented rosters. And then we haven't even talked about the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls. Basically, the Bucks have their work cut out for them, and by the end of the day, the East may just be too stacked even for them.
2. The Golden State Warriors are just too good
The reigning champions begin next season atop the NBA championship odds board and might remain there despite some interesting personnel changes.
Toward the end of last season, we saw Steph Curry continue to be Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson begin to regain his rhythm after missing two full seasons. Draymond Green, however, had a dramatic downturn in the playoffs.
That trio is set to earn more than $114 million next season, which put the retention of their supporting cast in jeopardy given the luxury and repeater taxes they have. They've already lost Gary Payton II and Otto Porter, two key players in their championship run.
Still, the Warriors have deep pockets and are in a unique position to infuse young talent like James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody into an aging roster. Speaking of aging, take note that Andre Iguodala is returning for another season. These young ‘uns potentially unlock new upside while keeping their veterans fresh for another title run.
As things stand, there might be no stopping the Warriors from repeating. The Bucks are older than the Warriors and surely not as deep. If Milwaukee finds a way to survive the stacked East, they probably won't have enough left to beat the Dubs in the Finals.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo is no longer enough
As Giannis Antetokounmpo starts his 10th season, his resume already ranks him among the most decorated champions in NBA history. So the issue is, how will he add to that list? Can he earn his third NBA MVP award? The Bucks will be among the title contenders, but will Antetokounmpo earn another Finals MVP award? Once more, expectations are sky high for Antetokounmpo.
Update: Giannis found more snacks. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/LrrTtTJYL3
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 2, 2022
His claim to be the best player in the world has only grown stronger in the last year, thanks to his absolute consistency and consistent dominance each night. No player in the league can possibly match his influence on both ends of the court.
Following his first Finals MVP award, Antetokounmpo vied for the scoring championship, averaging 29.9 points (third in the NBA), 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. In their second-round playoff series against Boston last season, Antetokounmpo averaged 31.7 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in the postseason. As great as he was, though, it wasn't enough to beat Boston. That might happen again in the 2023 postseason. Giannis will play like a beast only to fall short against one of the other top teams in the East or against the Warriors in the Finals.