Milwaukee Bucks need to build for the future before it’s too late

Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez, guard Grayson Allen & guard Jrue Holiday (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez, guard Grayson Allen & guard Jrue Holiday (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

Consider some of the most prolific dynasties in basketball history: Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics, the Showtime Lakers, Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs, and the modern-day Golden State Warriors. What do they all have in common? These franchises adapted on the fly, innovating their lineups by infusing new talent and young players to keep the dream alive — something the Milwaukee Bucks need to learn from as soon as possible.

There are eight players over 30 on Milwaukee’s roster and only five under 25 including training camp deals. To make matters more alarming, the veterans comprise most of head coach Mike Budenholzer’s rotation and the vast majority of Milwaukee’s cap sheet right now. This is a team built to compete right now, which puts them in a great position in the short term. However, it’s plausible that this spells trouble as these players reach the point of no return.

At just 27, there’s plenty left in the tank for superstar Giannis Antetokoumpo and at the end of the day, he’ll always be the engine that makes the machine run. This isn’t meant to diminish the impact of the elite talent offered by Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, but they’re also likely to decline well before Giannis is done contending for championships. Like with this year’s Golden State team, hungry young players are the key to supplementing their unavoidable decline over the course of time.

Leveraging the future to compete now could ruin the Milwaukee Bucks’ fortune.

With most of its first-round draft capital tied up in the Jrue Holiday trade, the Bucks have limited pathways to acquiring young talent. Future draft picks attached with salary could return some impact players, but even then, it’s difficult to trade for promising young players. Still, Milwaukee could trade veterans for late-round draft capital or rehabilitation projects in order to develop its core for the future.

Ultimately, the Milwaukee Bucks are in fantastic shape for the time being. Stability goes a long way in contending for championships and there’s an argument to be made that the Bucks have it more than any of its Eastern Conference foes. However, now is the time to begin considering how today’s decisions impact tomorrow, and luckily for the franchise, it’s well-equipped to handle this.

Middleton was tacked on in a sign-and-trade with the Detroit Pistons for short-lived bucket-getter Brandon Jennings. The team jumped at an opportunity to sign fan-favorite Bobby Portis on a cheap deal, helping them win a championship during his first year in Milwaukee. Guard Grayson Allen was acquired for pennies on the dollar, wing Pat Connaughton was added coming off his rookie contract and Jevon Carter was signed in the middle of last season after being waived.

Not only does the Milwaukee Bucks organization have a track record of finding talent in odd places, but it develops these players and molds them into Coach Bud’s system.

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That, coupled with a chance to play with a historically-great player in Giannis, is enough to draw young players to the team.