Washington Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: Milwaukee Bucks

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Eric Bledsoe (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Eric Bledsoe (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

One of the best in the East versus one of the worst in the East. But anything could happen for the Washington Wizards, right?

Washington Wizards record versus Milwaukee Bucks last season: 1-2

Bucks lost: Malcolm Brogdon, Nikola Mirotic, John Henson, Tony Snell, Tim Frazier

Bucks added: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Dragan Bender, Kyle Korver, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez

Giannis Antetokoumpo: The Greek Freak. The MVP. The unstoppable force that is bound to terrorize the Eastern Conference and entire NBA for the foreseeable future. Etc, etc, etc.

You can’t talk about the Milwaukee Bucks without talking about Giannis Antetokounmpo, so I thought I’d get that out of the way.

Last season, when he played against the Washington Wizards, Antetokounmpo dominated. He missed the first matchup between the two teams due to a minor injury, but in the other two contests, we saw why he was the MVP. Antetokounmpo averaged 40 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in two wins over Washington. The game he missed was the only one the Wizards won versus the Bucks.

This year it should be a lot more of the same. If you can’t stop Antetokounmpo, you can’t stop the Bucks. Losing Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers is a huge blow. Brogdon quietly had himself a 50-40-90 season and was integral in getting the Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals. But they reloaded pretty well and focused on the MVP’s major weakness; the three-point shot.

While Antetokounmpo is nearly unstoppable from near;y everywhere on the court, teams would prefer he shoots from deep instead of leaping over helpless defenders in the post. He shot just 25.6 percent from behind the arc last season, and he isn’t much better for his career. Through his six seasons in the NBA, he’s shot just 27.7 percent from three.

Brogdon, Tony Snell, and eventually Nikola Mirotic all helped balance the offense. As a result, only the Houston Rockets shot or made more three-pointers than the Bucks last season. All four players listed shot at least 35 percent from three, and none of them will be back this season. The Bucks are hoping Wesley Matthews (38.2 career three-point shooting percentage ), and the final remains Kyle Korver (42.9 career three-point shooting percentage) can fill their shoes. Pat Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo could be some younger options from three if they can progress in more significant roles this season.

When they meet this season, the Wizards aren’t going to outscore the Bucks. The Bucks played at the fastest pace in the NBA and had the fourth-highest offensive rating last season, per Basketball-Reference. They ran a lot of teams off the floor, including the Wizards. In both games featuring Antetokounmpo, the Bucks scored over 130 points.

It’s tough to score against any team with that kind of firepower. It’s even harder when that team length all over the floor. The Bucks have that, and they had the NBA’s best defensive rating last season. Good luck, Wizards.

Wizards to Watch

For this matchup, I’m watching a Wizard that’s not technically in uniform; Scott Brooks.

The Wizards will be outmatched at nearly every position when they play the Bucks. Bradley Beal will be their only advantage. The Bucks will have the best player on the court in Antetokounmpo. Brook and Robin Lopez will present some matchup issues, whether they’re stepping out to drain threes, in Brook’s case, or crashing the boards. And while Eric Bledsoe isn’t what he used to be, he’s the best point guard between the two teams.

You could argue that these problems will exist for the Wizards most nights. Against the Bucks, though, they’re magnified to the nth degree. Will Brooks go small and try to keep up with Milwaukee’s rapid pace? Will he focus on shooting and put together a lineup that includes Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, and Garrison Mathews in an attempt to keep up with the Bucks’ scoring? Or will he admit defeat and focus on some development?

2019-20 Game Predictions

Tuesday, January 28 in Milwaukee

By now, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be fully entrenched in his second-straight MVP campaign. Nobody’s stopping the Greek Freak. I fear he picks up right where he left off against Washington and drops 30+ points in an easy win.

Monday, February 24 in Washington

This game is the first of a road back-to-back for the Bucks. They play the Toronto Raptors the next night. Can the Wizards steal one while the Bucks look ahead at a chance at revenge? Nope.

Saturday, March 21 in Washington

I’m predicting that Beal survives the trade deadline and is still a Wizard when these two teams matchup in March. Beal’s good for at least one game for home-cooking per year, no matter who the opponent. Expect a scoring burst from Beal, somewhere over 35, but don’t expect a Wizards win.

Next. Washington Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: Brooklyn Nets. dark

Friday, March 27 in Milwaukee

I’m going to guess that the Bucks rest Antetokounmpo for this game. It’ll be their second game versus Washington in less than a week. If he does sit, the Wizards will get their first and only win against the Bucks this season.