Evaluating the 2021-22 Milwaukee Bucks

June 6th, 2022

By Alan Lu

The Milwaukee Bucks had won the NBA championship last year by defeating the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals, and superstar point forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo put forth a masterful, legendary postseason performance to lead his team to win the title last season.

This year, they appeared poised and ready to defend their title, as they began their title defense by bringing Giannis and nearly everyone back to do so.  They did lose P.J. Tucker in free agency to Miami, but they were able to acquire Wes Matthews and Grayson Allen in the offseason.  The Bucks managed to win 51 games in the regular season, but Khris Middleton got hurt in the playoffs, and they ended up losing to the Boston Celtics in 7 games in the second round this year.

Key Players:

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a really good season this year for the Bucks, but they came up short in the playoffs, as they were without Khris Middleton in their second round series against the Boston Celtics.
(Photo:
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Behind the Buck Pass)

Giannis Antetokounmpo
2021-22 (MIL): 29.9 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 55 FG%, 29 3PT%, 72 FT%, 63 TS%, 32.1 PER, 12.9 WS

He is a superstar point forward that had a great season this year, and he did virtually everything really well for the Bucks, sans an outside shot.  Still, he was able to get his team pretty far without Khris Middleton in the second round of the playoffs before losing to a very good Celtics’ team.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting power forward on the Milwaukee Bucks

Khris Middleton had a good season for the Bucks, but then he got hurt, which caused him to miss the entire second round series against the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
(Photo:
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images, via CelticsBlog)

Khris Middleton
2021-22 (MIL): 20.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 44 FG%, 37 3PT%, 89 FT%, 58 TS%, 18.1 PER, 5.3 WS

He is an athletic, versatile swingman that played very well this year, but he got hurt late in the season due to a knee injury that caused him to miss the entire second round series against the Celtics.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 3.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting small forward on the Milwaukee Bucks

Jrue Holiday played very well for the Milwaukee Bucks, and he had a terrific game 5, as he had a game-saving block and steal on Boston Celtics’ guard, Marcus Smart to get them the win in that game in the second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
(Photo:
Charles Krupa/Associated Press, via Santa Fe New Mexican)

Jrue Holiday
2021-22 (MIL): 18.3 PPG, 6.8 APG, 4.5 RPG, 50 FG%, 41 3PT%, 76 FT%, 59 TS%, 19.8 PER, 6.9 WS

He had a very good season, and he made terrific plays to help his team win Game 5 against the Celtics in the second round this year.  Holiday is one of the best defenders in the NBA, and he is a smart, skilled point guard that does virtually everything well and plays sound, smart basketball on the court.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 3.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting point guard on the Milwaukee Bucks

Brook Lopez
2021-22 (MIL): 12.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 47 FG%, 36 3PT%, 87 FT%, 57 TS%, 16.0 PER, 0.7 WS

He is a skilled, mobile big man that can shoot and defend, but he missed a lot of time in the regular season due to injury this year, and he didn’t shoot the ball very well in the second round of the playoff s this season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting center on the Milwaukee Bucks

Bobby Portis had a very good season, and the Bucks were greatly bolstered by his tenacity, inside scoring, defense, and toughness this year.
(Photo:
Stacy Revere/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Hoops Habit)

Bobby Portis
2021-22 (MIL): 14.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 48 FG%, 39 3PT%, 75 FT%, 57 TS%, 17.7 PER, 5.5 WS

Portis had a really good season for the Bucks this year, and he played much more because Brook Lopez was injured for most of the season.  Portis thrived as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder for his team, and he provided his team with some much needed toughness on the team.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Side Note: Portis has a player option that allows him to opt in to his contract at the end of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Pat Connaughton
2021-22 (MIL): 9.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 46 FG%, 39 3PT%, 83 FT%, 62 TS%, 13.4 PER, 4.4 WS

He is an athletic swingman that excelled as a 3 and D player for the Bucks this year, and he shot the ball well in the regular season and in the playoffs.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Milwaukee Bucks

Other Notable Players:

Wesley Matthews

He provided his team with a stable, veteran influence as he played a 3 and D role on the team this year.  He guarded plenty of tough opponents, but he didn’t shoot quite as well as hoped this season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Milwaukee Bucks

Grayson Allen

He did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball this year, but Allen didn’t defend quite as well this season, struggled to make shots in the second round against Boston, and he also made a reckless, dirty play against Alex Caruso that injured his opponent in the regular season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Milwaukee Bucks

George Hill

Hill is a veteran point guard that can run the team at the point, but he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as he had in years’ past, and is an aging playmaker that may be on the decline.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Milwaukee Bucks

Serge Ibaka

He is an experienced big man that shot the ball well this year, and he was efficient as a scorer off the bench, but he didn’t defend nearly as well as he used to.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team

Jevon Carter

He was released by the Nets midseason, as he didn’t shoot very well for them, but Carter shot the ball very well for the Bucks, and he played tough, tenacious defense off the bench for them this year.

2022 Season Grade: C (D- with BRK, A- with MIL)
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team

Jordan Nwora

After having a very good rookie season last year, Nwora received substantially more playing time this season.  He didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well, but he was able to have some good scoring games.  He didn’t factor much into the team’s rotation in the playoffs though, as he didn’t play much in the postseason, but Nwora projects to be a solid 3 and D player off the bench for whichever team he ends up signing with next season.

2022 Season Grade: C-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Side Note: Nwora will be a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Other Players on the Roster:

Sandro Mamukelashvili

He is a skilled, mobile stretch big that excelled as a floor spacer in limited minutes in the NBA, and he also played very well in the G-League this year.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Milwaukee Bucks

Thanasis Antetokounmpo

He’s the older brother of Giannis Antetokounmpo.  He excelled at attacking the hoop to score the basketball and provided energy and motor, but he didn’t shoot the three-ball well on offense.  On the other hand, he provided a good clubhouse locker room influence on his team, and he played fairly well in limited minutes off the bench this year.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Milwaukee Bucks

Rayjon Tucker

He is a very athletic, energetic combo guard that can finish plays above the rim and plays bigger than his listed size. He didn’t play much in the NBA this year, but he played well in very limited minutes.  He also played very well in the G-League, but he will need to improve his outside shot in the meantime.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team

Luca Vildoza

He was listed on the Milwaukee Bucks’ roster, but he didn’t play in a single game for them.  He’s a playmaking point guard that can shoot and pass the basketball, but he will need to show NBA teams that he can play and compete at this level.

2022 Season Grade: I
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team
Vildoza’s NBA Comparison: Carlos Arroyo

Lindell Wigginton

He is an athletic, skilled combo guard that didn’t play much in the NBA this year, but it’s an accomplishment that he was able to do so, and with the Milwaukee Bucks.  He played alright in limited minutes for the Bucks, but he didn’t play nearly as well in the G-League, and he will need to improve his shooting and defense in the meantime.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1 star (1.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team

Head Coach:

Milwaukee Bucks’ head coach, Mike Budenholzer led his team to win 51 games in the regular season, but after they lost Middleton due to injury in the playoffs, his team fell short as they lost in their second round series to the Boston Celtics in the playoffs this year.
(Photo:
Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports, via Yardbarker.com)

Mike Budenholzer
2021-22 (MIL): 51-31, 7-5 in the 2022 NBA Playoffs

He helped the Bucks win 51 games, which helped them get the third seed and was good for them, although they were perhaps expected to win more in the regular season.  Things took a turn for the worse for them when Khris Middleton went down to an unfortunate injury that caused him to miss the entire second round series against the Celtics.  That series was going to be an uphill battle for the Bucks, but they fought tenaciously, and took the Celtics to 7 before losing to them in the playoffs.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 3.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Head Coach of the Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks’ Projected 2022-23 Rotation:
C Brook Lopez
F Giannis Antetokounmpo
F Wesley Matthews
G Pat Connaughton
G Jrue Holiday
__________________
G Grayson Allen
G George Hill
24th Overall Pick
C Sandro Mamukelashvili
F Thanasis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks’ Picks in the 2022 NBA Draft:
#24

The Milwaukee Bucks’ Projected 2023 Win-Loss Record:
51-31, 4th in the Eastern Conference

Their Projected Offseason Plan:

The Bucks aren’t likely to have much, if any cap space to work with in the offseason, so they’ll most likely have to maneuver using trades and in the draft.  They’ll have to decide if they want to bring Wes Matthews, Serge Ibaka, and Jordan Nwora back. Their utmost priority be will to either try to convince Bobby Portis to pick up his player option or to sign for what would be considerably less than market value, so that they can keep him on their team. Otherwise, the Bucks probably won’t be able to bring him back as he’ll be too costly for them to sign and they wouldn’t be able to afford to bring him back. Jordan Nwora will be a restricted free agent, and although he had a relatively down season, he’s a skilled, 3 and D scoring wing that could receive offers from other teams to replenish their bench, so the Bucks will have to decide if they can keep him for next season.

The Milwaukee Bucks excelled at shooting and scoring the basketball, and they also rebounded well.  They could look to add more playmakers and defenders in the offseason, but they also need players that can play off of Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, and they could use versatile players that can shoot, facilitate, and defend in games.

They had a solid season overall, and while it ended in disappointment as they lost in 7 games to the Boston Celtics in their second round series, the Bucks played valiantly, as they were without star forward, Khris Middleton for the duration of that playoff series. They will likely have most of their players back for next season, and while it’s uncertain if Bobby Portis will return, they have a fair chance to keep him. The Bucks will be a very good team that will contend for a title next year, and if they can stay healthy and add some more depth and talent to their roster, they could end up winning the championship next season.

This review of the Bucks took place before the 2022 NBA Draft and the 2022 free agency.  I went to No Trade Clause and Basketball-Reference for research purposes.  Thanks for reading.

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