We’re officially in the dead zone of the NBA offseason. The Draft and free agency are behind us, Summer League is completed, and training camp won’t start until the end of September/beginning of October.
That leaves us with a lot of thumb-twiddling and time for introspection. With lots of time on our hands, let’s continue our deep dive into the Milwaukee Bucks roster and the current state of affairs.
I’ve previously looked at the franchise and cornerstone tiers, and we continue moving our day down the roster here, as we glance at their core rotational pieces.
When the season concluded with an unexpected playoff exit at the hands of the Miami Heat, the idea of Jae Crowder returning to the Bucks seemed far-fetched. Milwaukee had pursued him relentlessly since the beginning of the season, parting ways with five second-round picks to acquire his services at the trade deadline.
However, things didn’t quite go as planned for Crowder. After sitting out the season until that point, he struggled to find his rhythm and get into game shape, leading to limited playing time in the playoffs under Mike Budenholzer’s coaching. In exit interviews with the media, he expressed uncertainty about his role with the team.
But with the Bucks making a coaching change and bringing in Adrian Griffin, the slate was wiped clean for Crowder. At his best, he’s a versatile defender, excelling against both threes and fours, with the ability to guard every position in a pinch. His presence can unlock elite defensive lineups and disrupt elite wing scorers.
As we look ahead to the upcoming season, the question remains whether Crowder’s stint with Milwaukee was an anomaly or a glimpse of what’s to come. The Bucks are banking on the latter, as they have significant plans for him. For their championship aspirations, it’s essential that Crowder rediscovers his pre-2022-23 form and becomes a pivotal asset for the team once again.
The reign of Bobby Portis’ favoritism in Milwaukee continues, and the fans are eager to witness his encore after an impressive offensive showing in the 2022-23 season. Averaging 19.5 points and 13.3 rebounds per 36 minutes with an efficient 49.6 percent shooting from the field, he proved to be a valuable offensive force.
What sets Portis apart is the unparalleled energy, intensity, and ability to ignite the Fiserv Forum. Every move he makes sends the crowd into a frenzy, chanting his name and fueling the team’s success on the court.
However, Portis faces a challenge in the defensive department. He has long been questioned about his defensive capabilities, and those concerns reached new heights last season. Often lacking engagement on that end, he struggled to deter ball-handlers and protect the rim effectively.
Under new head coach Adrian Griffin’s more aggressive defensive scheme, Portis will be asked to take on a different role, attacking ball-handlers instead of sitting back on screens. It will be a learning curve, and the early part of the season will reveal if Portis has what it takes to thrive in this system.