The Milwaukee Bucks began their season against the Charlotte Hornets. Hopes are high for the Bucks this year with some added shooters and a developing core, however, a major piece of that core will miss 6 months. While anyone can predict the NBA Finals this year, the Bucks season may be harder to predict.
With a full, healthy team, my prediction would have been a win total between 42-46. The team would be in the playoffs at a 5 or 6 seed and probably win 1 or 2 playoff games, but lose in the first round. With the loss of Khris Middleton, a key piece of the core, that prediction does not stand.
In terms of wins, I think the Bucks have a similar season to last year, with perhaps a few more wins. Last year the Bucks went 33-49, this season I expect the team to go 35-47. I think the team will either miss the playoffs by less than a few games or make it as a 7 or 8 seed. The record will not be the whole story. I think the Bucks will play many of their opponents quite close and possibly surprise teams by experimenting with different rotations. While I do not expect any 24-1 streak-busting games this year, the Bucks never fail to shock me.
Looking at personnel, I think for the regular season the only question is Greg Monroe. Monroe has a player option in 2017, however, unless he is able to elevate his game, I doubt he leaves the Bucks in free agency as not many teams will want to offer him more than $17.8 million. The trade deadline is where Monroe is most likely to move. While the Bucks didn't finalize any trades at last season's deadline, there were negotiations for players like Ricky Rubio and Dwight Howard. Monroe could earn the Bucks a player or two, or a couple of draft picks. With a commitment to Miles Plumlee and drafting Thon Maker, it is possible that the Bucks will shop Greg Monroe and see who will offer what for his services.
This season may be less about success and more about identity. This young Bucks team must overcome adversity to do more than just win. The team must find out who they are, what they can do, and what they can expect in the future.