Barring an injury to reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks should skate to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Not surprisingly, this is a team that has the fewest needs at the trade deadline.
Still, there are ways every team can improve, and the Bucks are no exception so general manager Jon Horst, like anybody else, is looking for upgrades by the Feb. 6 trade deadline.
Strengths: (1) The Bucks are among the top three in the NBA in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage and among the top 10 in opponents scoring. (2) With Antetokounmpo, they have a player who is able to single-handily take over a game and dominate. (3) Khris Middleton is an ideal second-best player on the team, a proven scorer who is a major three-point threat. (4) After a slow start, former Sixers forward Kyle Korver is again heating up from three-point territory.
Weakness: (1) Antetokounmpo is an improved, but still below average three-point shooter and a poor free-throw shooter. Teams will give him the Ben Simmons treatment – fouling him down the stretch in close games to see if he can beat them at the free-throw line. (2) The Bucks are in the middle of the pack in committing turnovers and could improve in that area. (3) Two starters, guard Wes Matthews and center Brook Lopez have been inconsistent this season and will need to pick up their play in the postseason.
How they match up with the Sixers: The Bucks match up with every team well. They struggled in their 121-109 Christmas Day loss to the host Sixers when Antetokounmpo had a subpar day. So much rides with the Greek Freak, and while he has a solid supporting cast, he has to perform like the MVP for the Bucks to consistently beat the top teams.
Biggest need at the deadline: Another three-point shooter to take up the slack for Matthews and former Villanova star Donte DiVincenzo.
Couldn’t hurt acquiring: A backup center a little more productive than Robin Lopez.
Players who could help at the deadline
Langston Galloway, Detroit guard. The former St. Joseph’s University star is in the last year of his contract so it’s likely he could be a rental. There will be widespread competition for Galloway, who would provide a three-point threat.
Alec Burks, Golden State guard. Just like Galloway he is on the final year of his deal at an affordable rate. He has picked an opportune time to shine and just like Galloway, would be a three-point threat, but don’t look for much defense out of him.
Kyle O’Quinn, Sixers. While it’s not likely the Sixers and Bucks will trade with each other, O’Quinn hasn’t played major minutes recently. He is a veteran player who is a better passer from the high post than he is a scorer or defender.