With Giannis Antetokounmpo once again establishing an MVP-caliber level of performance, it may be no surprise that the Milwaukee Bucks are making some noise once again in the 2019-20 NBA season. Before the NBA went on hiatus due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States, the Bucks were sitting at the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference — with the league’s best 53-12 record. However, to strengthen their chances of fully dominating the Eastern Conference and winning the 2020 NBA championship title, the Bucks needed their other players to step up.
According to Mandela Namaste of Bleacher Report, veteran point guard Eric Bledsoe could be the biggest X-factor for the Bucks in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Namaste believes that Bledsoe’s performance in the upcoming postseason may determine the Bucks’ fate in the 2019-20 NBA season, as well as Antetokounmpo’s future in Milwaukee.
“With player health serving as an even more volatile proposition than usual this year and Giannis’ jumper still eminently questionable, the point guard will likely be called upon at some point,” Mandela wrote, referring to Bledsoe.
“Will he be able to rise to the occasion and complete a Hollywood-style redemption arc? Will the memories of previous failures continue to loom large? The answer could determine whether Milwaukee wins a title. By extension, it could also determine whether the Bucks are able to keep Giannis for the next half-decade.”
Bledsoe was indeed one of the major reasons the Bucks have managed to reach the top of the Eastern Conference over the past two years, but his underwhelming performance in the postseason also played a major factor as to why they still haven’t won an NBA championship title under Antetokounmpo’s leadership. Bledsoe was undeniably a solid point guard in the regular season, but in the Eastern Conference Playoffs — where winning matters the most — Mandela said that the veteran point guard “faltered spectacularly.”
If Bledsoe shows a massive improvement in terms of his future performance and become more consistent in the upcoming playoffs, it’s hard to imagine any powerhouse teams in the Eastern Conference beating the Bucks in the best-of-seven series. Having an improved playoff version of Bledsoe on their side would also boost the Bucks’ chances of beating Western Conference title contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers — or the Los Angeles Clippers — in the 2020 NBA Finals.
As Mandela noted, the outcome of the 2019-20 NBA season is vital for the Bucks. If they win the championship –or at least enter the 2020 NBA Finals — it would give them a better chance of convincing Antetokounmpo to sign the massive contract extension that they are planning to offer this fall. If they suffer a disappointing season, Antetokounmpo may consider following in the footsteps of other NBA superstars, leaving Milwaukee.