After surging late in the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks looked like they had a strong chance of repeating as NBA champs.
They handled the young and talented Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, but lost Khris Middleton, their second-best player, in the process.
Still, against the red-hot Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Giannis Antetokounmpo put his team in position to win, even after blowing Game 4.
But after taking a 3-2 series lead, the Bucks gave the series away, despite the Greek Freak throwing up 44 points, 20 rebounds, and six assists in Game 6.
In retrospect, the absence of Middleton, who would’ve likely thrown some cold water on at least one late Boston rally, is the main reason Milwaukee will be watching the rest of the playoffs instead of participating in them.
But this offseason, it needs to go out and get a certain type of player in order to regain the world title next year.
A Stronger Bench Is Needed
Coming into this season, the Bucks’ reserve corps looked solid, but against Boston, it looked like it was in need of some reinforcements.
But the team doesn’t have a legitimate backup point guard who can run the team and get guys easy looks.
George Hill was supposed to be that man, but he did almost nothing versus the Celtics, averaging (this is not a misprint) 1.0 points on 20.0 percent shooting and 0.6 assists in 15.2 minutes per game while also being a defensive liability.
Tatum hunting George Hill: pic.twitter.com/ItmYBs96lt
— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) May 10, 2022
The only other point guard in the rotation, Jevon Carter, a 6-foot-1 man in his fourth season out of West Virginia, was also a non-factor, as he gave the Bucks just 2.1 points and 0.9 assists in 11.5 minutes this postseason.
One Of The Biggest Benefits Of Such A Player
During the Celtics series, Antetokounmpo played extremely well overall, but he had to work very hard for his shots, especially with Middleton out of uniform.
With Boston’s vaunted defense only needing to worry about Antetokounmpo and starting point guard Jrue Holiday, nothing came easy for Milwaukee.
But another distributor coming off the bench could change the complexion of the Bucks’ offense a bit.
Perhaps, at times, the Bucks could go with a backcourt of such a player along with Holiday, which would probably result in easier shots for the Greek Freak by putting more pressure on the defense.
Once Middleton returns, he would also become a beneficiary of such a player.
For a glimpse into how it may work, look at the impact Rajon Rondo had on the Los Angeles Lakers two seasons ago.
By giving them another ball-handler and table-settler other than LeBron James, Rondo allowed the Lakers to experience an uptick in pace and offensive production when he came in.
Suddenly, James didn’t have to always be the one who pushed the ball upcourt and created either for himself or others, as Rondo took on some of that responsibility.
— NBA (@NBA) November 4, 2018
It was a significant factor in the Lakers winning the NBA title that year.