By Craig Fields
The NBA has been so full of stories and twisted plotlines that a team doing well amidst all other expectations might get overshadowed. However, the Milwaukee Bucks are making it harder and harder to ignore them. They are constantly competitive against and beating teams that your average NBA basketball fan would not think they could beat.
The formula for the Bucks success has been defense, hard work, and efficient shots. They also have a pretty good head coach in Jason Kidd who has done nothing but instill a grind it out attitude and has gotten a bunch of 20-somethings to believe that they can win on any given night.
In Kidd’s first year as a head coach he led the Brooklyn Nets sans Brook Lopez, who is arguably their best player, to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Now in his second year as a head coach he has taken and reshaped a team that only won 15 games last year, into a legitimate playoff team.
They are currently 28-22 and are entrenched in the 6th spot in the east and climbing. They are also doing this without their most recent draft pick, Jabari Parker, who has been lost most of the season due to a torn ACL. If you have a question about how this turnaround took place in less than a year’s time, look no further than the defensive side of the ball. They are currently top seven or better in every important defensive statistical category.
With their offensive output they have to play above average defensively. This is a young team that can sometimes lose focus on the offensive side of the ball and ultimately have extended lapses in games where offensive execution just is not there. Even with that being said I’m sure this is what management had in mind when they hired Jason Kidd.
One thing that also marks a good team, besides their starters, is the ability of the players on the bench and bench scoring. It is all but mandatory that you have true value on your bench. Talent that can come in and keep the game in hand and in tact while the starters get their necessary rest. Kidd has built a decent bench and the Bucks rank seventh in the league in bench scoring. Guys like Jared Dudley, O.J. Mayo and Jarryd Bayless all provide necessary scoring and defensive intensity.
They have some veterans and some young “bucks”, pun intended, that have all bought into Kidd’s philosophy. Kidd might actually still be in Brooklyn if he had not wanted complete control of the organization. Although, given the documented struggles of the Nets, I’m not too sure that they would not rethink their decision to let Kidd go. The Bucks are in front of the Nets in the standings and are looking like a team on the up-and-up. Led by young stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brandon Knight, this franchise just may be in good hands for quite a while.