The Milwaukee Bucks have moved ahead of the L.A. Clippers and Golden State Warriors in the latest oddsboard. The Bucks were the busiest team in the league when the transaction moratorium ended on Monday.
In the latest odds board at BetOnline.ag, Milwaukee has moved to second place behind the Los Angeles Lakers at +500 to win the 2021 NBA championship. Of course, the champs are still on top at +400 but the Bucks now have shorter odds than the Clippers (+750), Warriors (+800), and Brooklyn Nets (+600) who have risen in the list due to the James Harden rumors.
Back last month when the Lakers had just won the 2020 NBA title, Milwaukee ranked fourth in the early market oddsboard to win the 2021 NBA championship. The Lakers opened as a +325 betting favorite to repeat while their cross-town rival Clippers were second at +550. Interestingly, the three-time world champions Golden State Warriors came in third at +700 while the Bucks, who were the top seeds in the 2020 NBA Playoffs were fourth at +800.
Bucks at Fourth?
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) October 24, 2020
There was no question about putting the Lakers on top of everybody. Not only are the Lakers the defending champions, they are expected to bring back their superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis next season. The Clippers were coming off a disappointing finish while the Warriors missed the 2020 playoffs due to multiple injuries. But the Bucks ar 4th?
Milwaukee had the best regular season record in the NBA for the second consecutive season. Giannis Antetokounmpo won his second straight MVP award while Khris Middleton earned his second consecutive All-Star selection. Mike Budenholzer won coach of the year in 2019 and was runner-up to Nick Nurse in 2020.
Yet after the Miami Heat upset the Bucks in round two of the playoffs, there were doubts whether the Bucks could win it all. After their postseason exit, many believed that Giannis Antetokounpo could leave the team because of repeated playoff failures. And with Gianis entering a season where he could sign an extension or become a free agent next offseason, the Bucks appeared to be on shaky ground.
Making The Right Decision
Giannis Antetokounmpo on his future with the Bucks — “I do not know what the plan is. It depends on what decisions they make. If they make the right decision, I’ll be there for many years.”https://t.co/sdA1JmxkFh
— Bucks Nation (@BucksNationCP) November 14, 2020
The Bucks can offer Giannis the sun and the moon if he agrees to a contract extension. But with Antetokounmpo, it isn’t about the money. The Greek Freak has always maintained that he wants to stay in Milwaukee rather than go elsewhere. He talked about people going to other directions when faced with a wall. Giannis once declared that he would rather plow right through that wall.
But as the offseason got deeper, his voice changed tones. He talked about him and the Bucks being on one page, and winning together. Most recently, Antetokounmpo was asked about his future and he said that he doesn’t know “what the plan is”. However, he hinted that will stay in Milwaukee “for a long time” if the Bucks make the “right decision”. That statement was self explanatory.
There’s not question about the talent in Milwaukee. However, while the Bucks have proved to be an elite regular season team, they have not been good enough to win when it matters most in the playoffs. And so when the NBA’s freeze on transactions ended on Monday, the Bucks wasted no time and pulled off two big trades.
Bucks Make Two Big Trades
The Bucks new lineup:
Brook Lopez pic.twitter.com/D9xmST5Olq
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 17, 2020
First Milwaukee traded Eric Bledsoe and George Hill for New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday. Then they engineered a sign and trade deal that sent Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova, and D.J. Wilson to the Sacramento Kings for Bogdan Bogdanovic.
In adding Holiday and Bogdanovic, the Bucks get two players who combined to score 34 points per game last season. Holiday is known as one of the best two-way guards in the league. Last season, the Pelicans’ shooters averaged 1.25 points per shot on Holiday’s 723 assist opportunities. On the other hand, Bogdanovic made 40% of his catch and shoot three-pointers for the Kings.
Whether these two will put the Bucks over the hump is Mike Budenholzer’s job to do and is another topic which should be talked about in another discussion table. But the fact is that Milwaukee has done an upgrade that will not only give them an opportunity to be a better team next season but perhaps make Giannis remain a deer at least for another contract.