Welcome to Part 21 in our series previewing each of the Timberwolves’ opponents and the respective upcoming season series.
Tale of the tape: Milwaukee took both games in the series last season by double-digit margins. Karl-Anthony Towns had a lid put on his numbers in this series, failing to reach double-double numbers in either game. The second game was highlighted by the scoring of Milwaukee’s two stud guards, leading the Bucks to a 116-101 win in the latter showdown of the series.
Milwaukee is similar to the Wolves in regards to the young talent and promising future of the roster. Like Minnesota, the Bucks also failed to reach the playoffs last season. However, improvement is expected and postseason play could be seen as early as this season.
Delly comes over after winning a championship with the Cavs last season. Perhaps most well-known for a short stint of greatness after replacing Kyrie Irving in the 2015 playoffs, Dellavedova has spent most of his three years off the bench. He is a decent shooter and an underrated defender, and will likely battle for a starting job in Milwaukee. His production has improved each year with an increase in minutes, and the Bucks are hoping he will continue that trend.
Terry, on the other hand, is a seemingly ageless 18-year vet who has found yet another contract. The Jet is a prominent three-point shooter and great from the line. I see Milwaukee utilizing him in late game situations where they need to chip away at a lead, so hopefully we will see some of him in this series.
Thon Maker and Malcom Brogdon were a part of the Milwaukee draft class this off-season. They should both play huge rolls this season. Maker is a 19 year-old, highly-touted import from Sudan who played his high school ball in Canada.
He showed a lot of promise in the summer league, averaging 14 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game in five starts. He’s athletic for his size and will force guys like Gorgui Dieng to pay special attention to him down low. The 7’-1’’ center will likely see a large chunk of minutes during the regular season. He may even see himself in a starting role before years end.
Brogdon was an early second-round pick out of Virginia, and in my opinion, was the most well-rounded player in college basketball last season. He’s above average on both ends. Although he’s had a disappointing preseason thus far, he should still see valuable time off the bench. Should someone like Brandon Rush or Bazz draw his number, it should be a very interesting match-up.
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Mirza Teletovic is an interesting add for a Bucks team that is deep in bigs, especially with the addition of Thon Maker. He has averaged over 20 minutes per game off the bench in each of the last two seasons.
However, I don’t see him having that same workload this season. He plays more of a stretch role, and that doesn’t seem to me like a game plan Milwaukee will try utilize all that frequently, especially considering his 31 percent field goal percentage thus far in the preseason.
The Bucks acquired fourth-year wing Tony Snell from the Chicago Bulls in a one-for-one swap for point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Snell is an okay long-range shooter but has yet to reach his peak on the defensive end of the floor, especially. Realistically, he’s a serviceable bench option with some upside, but not much more.
What’s the same? Milwaukee returns all of their young stars, led by Giannis Antetokounpo. The Greek Freak is the definition of match-up nightmare, as the long, lengthy guard has the quickness of a point man with the power of a big.
Rumor has it that he may run the point this season, which would create a lot of issues for Minnesota. I’m not sure that the Wolves have someone that can efficiently shut him down, as he has a tremendous size advantage over all of the back court. He was one of those stud guards mentioned earlier, scoring 27 points to go along with 12 assists in the match-up with the Timberwolves last March. Forcing him into shooting threes will be the key to eliminating a repeat performance this season.
Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe return down low for the Bucks. Most of Monroe’s value comes defensively with his ability to block shots and rebound. Parker is entering his second full season after suffering from injury his rookie year.
Parker and Towns really went at it last season, and their numbers nearly mirrored each other in each game. Whoever wins this dual could determine how these games swing.
Khris Middleton will be absent from the first game of this series and perhaps even both due to a hamstring injury. He will be sorely missed; he went off for 32 points in the aforementioned mentioned March game last season.
The Bucks traded former starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams to the Bulls for Tony Snell, which is probably a slight upgrade in terms of player value and upside. The issue with the move, however, largely centers on the fact that Milwaukee overplayed their hand and waited too long to move MCW. Otherwise, it makes sense for the team.
My prediction? Both of these young teams will likely see improvement upon their previous season. The Timberwolves have more upside this year, but Milwaukee is well on their way to runs of their own.
I see a split in this series, with both teams taking their games at home. The injury to Middleton will play a big role in the offensive output of the Bucks, which should bode well for Minnesota.
Regardless, we should see a pair of competitive games from two teams that will likely be more towards the top of the league going forward than being the basement teams they have been in years past.
The first of two games between the Bucks and Timberwolves will take place on December 30th in Minnesota.