The Milwaukee Bucks shockingly lost in the first round to the Miami Heat in five games. Milwaukee finished the season with the best record in the NBA but was eliminated by the 8th-seeded Heat, to the surprise of many.
Giannis Antetokounmpo got injured early in Game 1 and missed Games 2 and 3. However, he returned for Games 4 and 5, but Jimmy Butler and Miami were too much. This offseason, the Bucks will have to make some changes to get back to championship level.
Milwaukee could have some serious decisions on their hands. Center Brook Lopez is a free agent, while Khris Middleton has a player option. Lopez has been a great fit next to Antetokounmpo as he spaces the floor and protects the rim at an elite level. His presence allows Antetokounmpo to be the roamer on defense, which is where he thrives most. Lopez averaged 15.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He also had 2.5 blocks per contest, shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from three.
Middleton had multiple injuries throughout the season and only played in 33 regular season games. It was a down year for Middleton, who averaged 15.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists, shooting 43.6 percent from the floor and 31.5 percent from downtown. His game was up and down in the playoffs as well.
The Bucks will have some tough decisions to make this offseason. Outside of re-signing players, here are three early NBA free agency targets in the 2023 offseason.
3. Kelly Oubre Jr.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is a player that the Bucks could target in free agency. Oubre Jr. is a two-way player that could add scoring and depth at their forward spot. The Bucks added Jae Crowder at the deadline to improve their depth at forward, but he didn’t get many minutes in the playoffs.
It is still a position of need that the Bucks need to address and Oubre Jr. would be a good fit. He averaged 20 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game in 48 games.
He could be a great contributor alongside Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they try to return to being contenders in the Eastern Conference.
2. Bogdan Bogdanovic
Bogdan Bogdanovic would be a great fit for Milwaukee. He provides shooting and scoring, which are two areas where the Bucks will want to improve. Antetokounmpo thrives with shooters around him, and they could use an additional scoring punch.
Antetokounmpo previously had an interest in the team acquiring Bogdanovic. In 54 games with the Hawks, Bogdanovic averaged 14 points per game while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three.
His shooting and scoring would be a big plus for Milwaukee’s rotation. Antetokounmpo’s desire to have Bogdanovic as a teammate in the past should have the Bucks interested in the 30-year-old three-point sniper.
1. Gary Trent Jr.
Gary Trent Jr. could be an excellent fit for the Bucks. Trent Jr. is a two-way guard that can provide elite three-point shooting as well as high-quality defense. He averaged 17.4 points per game this season. He also shot 43.3 percent and 36.9 percent from three-point range. Trent Jr. also averaged 1.6 steals per game, making an impact on the defensive end of the floor.
He would be an upgrade as the starting shooting guard, spacing the floor alongside Antetokounmpo. His scoring would give the Bucks another element to their roster, which heavily relies on Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Jrue Holiday to score.
Milwaukee has a pivotal offseason ahead as they retool their roster around Antetokounmpo. Many big decisions will be made this offseason that will determine the future of Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Oubre Jr, Bogdanovic, and Trent Jr are targets the Bucks should pursue in free agency.
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