Matchup Preview: Orlando Magic vs Milwaukee Bucks


Over the next month, we’ll be talking with a variety of people who cover each NBA team to find out a little bit about their team, and how they expect the season to go. We’ll also find out what they believe will be the most intriguing matchup when the two team’s meet during the regular season. Continuing with the Central Division, Eric Buenning of SB Nation’s BrewHoop joins us to discuss the Milwaukee Bucks. You should do yourself a favor and follow Eric on twitter @ericbuenning if you don’t do so already. 

Game Dates 

Friday, November 14th @ Orlando 

Thursday, January 29th @ Orlando 

Wednesday, March 11th @ Milwaukee 

Saturday, April 4th @ Milwaukee 

Last Season: 15-67; 15th in Eastern Conference 

November 13th: Orlando 94 Milwaukee 91 

January 31st: Orlando 113 Milwaukee 102 

February 18th: Milwaukee 104 Orlando 100 

March 10th: Milwaukee 105 Orlando 98 

Projected Starters

Point Guard: Brandon Knight 

Shooting Guard: Giannis Antetokounmpo 

Small Forward: Jabari Parker 

Power Forward: Ersan Ilyasova 

Center: Larry Sanders 

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Jabari Parker (Duke) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number two overall pick to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Q: A lot has been made of Jabari Parker being “NBA ready.” What do you think are fair or reasonable expectations for the second overall pick this season?

A: I think it would be really unfair to expect Jabari to start dropping 20+ppg right away like some of the experts think he can. He might be capable of that, but I think it’s really important to remember that this 19-year-old hasn’t even logged a single minute in the NBA yet. To expect him to be one of the league’s premier scorers instantly is just an unnecessary projection at this point, in my opinion.

Instead, if Jabari could average somewhere around 15-18ppg, 5-7 rebounds, and a low-50s true-shooting percentage, that’d be far more encouraging. It would show that he’s thinking his way through the complexities of the game and picking his spots wisely, all while maintaining an impact in every area of the game. 

He has all the time of the world to further develop into that go-to guy later down the road. There’s no need to set the bar so high right now.

Mar 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks the ball against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 115-110. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Q: Giannis stole all of our hearts last season as he explored America. Developmentally, what’s the next step that you’d like to see him take this season? 

A: Everything, really. Even though Giannis continues to make awesome highlight plays, he’s still pretty raw in just about every area of his game. He’s already improved so much from the beginning of last season, but there is so much more room for him to grow (literally and figuratively, probably). His handle and shot can get a bit loose at times, and he is still trying to figure out how and where to make an impact on the game, but he is only 19 and has all the physical gifts you could ask for. He just needs to keep putting in the time into his craft–and his work ethic suggests that doing that won’t be a problem–and the sky is the limit for him.

Like Jabari, it’s unfair to set any expectations on Giannis right now. You don’t want to single out one or two areas for improvement because he is capable of making an impact in more spots than that. Giannis has a very unique blend of skills, and it’s important that the Bucks let him try and put all of them to use before anything else.

Q: What matchup will you be watching when the Magic and Bucks meet this season?

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A: To be honest, I have no idea. Orlando and Milwaukee are similar in the sense that they both have a lot of young players on the roster that have lots of potential, but haven’t really made that leap into the next tier that deems them an absolutely essential core piece. 

I guess what I look forward to in these matchups will be is seeing how much the youngsters on both teams can grow. I know that sounds really vague, but that’s kind of where both teams stand right now, so that’s my answer. Deal with it

Q: What kind of expectations should the Bucks have this season? Is this a year they just need to show some gradual improvement, or do they take a larger step forward? 

A: I think the most important thing the Bucks can do this year is to figure out what they have with this group of young guys. If this team wants to be any good 3-5 years from now (which is the estimated time frame of this rebuild), some of these guys will have to step up and show they are capable of taking the franchise to new heights. The best way to do this is to let them play and show what they can do. There aren’t as many veterans breaking down the door for playing time as there have been in previous years, so it’s up to the young guys to determine how good they can be.

There won’t be any immediate goals other than getting better each day. This is all about an organic approach to a much brighter future. The Bucks and the rest of us hope that they can at least start laying the foundation this season, though.