Contenders and Pretenders: 3 NBA teams that are the real deal, 3 that aren't

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks
New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Pretender: Milwaukee Bucks

Since hiring Doc Rivers, the Bucks are just 17-17. Their offensive rating is 16th, and their defensive rating is 14th in that stretch. A team with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez is supposed to be better than average.

Speaking of Lillard, he has also not been the same player he was in Portland. His efficiency is down across the board in terms of field goal percentage and three-point percentage. He has shown flashes of the clutch gene he has, but he has battled inconsistency. 

While Lillard does have some signature playoff moments, he is an inconsistent playoff performer. He only shoots 41 percent from the field in the postseason. However, this will be the first time in his career that he will have a superstar next to him in Antetokounmpo. Maybe that will help Lillard find his game.

In addition to that, the Bucks have suffered some pretty baffling losses, especially recently. The Raptors? The Grizzlies? The Wizards? The Lakers without LeBron James in the lineup? Three of those teams are some of the worst in the NBA this season and are competing for lottery positioning. 

The bottom line is that the Bucks have not been the team they were expected to be at the beginning of the season. They have too many issues to be considered a contender. Their lack of perimeter defense will expose them against great scorers in the East.

Rivers also does not have the best track record in the playoffs as a coach, given his sub-.500 record in Game 7s and the most blown 3-1 leads in NBA history. Don’t be surprised if they bow out early in the playoffs…again.