Bucks took shortcut to contention around Giannis Antetokounmpo and came up short

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to their best season in seven years and won Most Improved Player in 2017. He began the following season absolutely dominating. But Milwaukee started just 4-5. That type of backslide had become the norm for the Bucks. They hadn’t made the playoffs in consecutive seasons in 14 years. They’d gone even longer since winning a postseason series. Milwaukee had become defined by unsustained moderate success. The Bucks were determined to break the trend, though. Antetokounmpo was special and deserved a commensurate supporting cast. Less than a year later, Milwaukee had a championship contender. That sudden emergence is an incredible success story. It also raised expectations – making this year’s second-round loss to the Heat a bitter disappointment – and creates long-term complications as the Bucks approach Antetokounmpo’s super-max decision. How did Milwaukee get here? Adding proven contributors around mainstays Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, who both continued to improve. The Bucks traded for Eric Bledsoe, hired Mike Budenholzer, signed Brook Lopez, traded for George Hill and signed Wesley Matthews to form the rest of the main playoff rotation. The catch with proven contributors: They cost. Milwaukee surrendered first-round picks in trading for Bledsoe and Hill. The… Read full this story

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