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The Milwaukee Bucks made a move for the future when they acquired Michael Carter-Williams in exchange for Brandon Knight moments before February’s trade deadline. The trade makes long-term sense, but in the interim the Bucks are 4-12 without Knight and are no longer a lock to make the playoffs. Though Wisconsin sports fans have experienced enough collapses over the past year to last a lifetime, it might actually turn out to be beneficial for the Bucks to stay on their current path to the NBA Draft Lottery.
The Bucks front office clearly is not concerned about this season, and fans should not be overly concerned, either. Their current core of talent is good as any they’ve had since the early 00s. However, the Bucks are still a few pieces away from being a legitimate title contender; their most pressing need being an outside shooter to help with spacing on offense. Missing the playoffs could help them in better position to acquire these pieces.
The Bucks will not be able to lose enough games to have a reasonable chance to win the draft lottery, but if their current slide continues they could be looking at a top-10 pick. And who knows, maybe the ping-pong balls will smile on Milwaukee and reward the Bucks with the #1 pick. For a team that’s playing for next season and beyond, the lottery certainly has it’s advantages.
Another reason the Bucks might be better off missing the playoffs is because they would likely get swept in the first round. Even worse is the scenario that the sweep will be courtesy of the Chicago Bulls, and I don’t think anybody wants to see the Bradley Center turn into the “United Center North.” So given the likelihood of an early exit from the playoffs and the Bucks’ strategy of looking towards the future, might it be in lottery where a franchise-altering player could be there for the taking?
This is not to say there is no value in making the playoffs. The Bucks are a young team and getting acclimated to the postseason would pay dividends later on, even if it’s only four games of experience. More importantly, for a team that’s trying to gain support for a new arena it would be very helpful to give fans something to get excited about. And who knows, maybe everything will start clicking for the Bucks and they’ll surprise us all by winning a series.
Should we root for the Bucks to lose as many games possible? Of course not. However, we should not get too upset if the losses keep piling up. Missing the playoffs would be a bummer, but at least it comes with a silver lining. In this case the silver lining might just be what the Bucks need to take the next step towards being a contender.