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The Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the NBA and one of the game’s best players in Giannis Antetokounmpo. My question for you: Who is Milwaukee’s second star?
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Steve Aschburner: Khris Middleton, like it or not. You can make small-to-medium-sized cases for other Bucks such as Brook Lopez, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon, each valuable in significant ways to the ensemble. But Middleton is the shooter, scorer and defender to best complement Giannis Antetokounmpo, a potential full-service sidekick … who has disappeared at an alarming rate through the first half of 2018-19. Being able to bring it every night in support of the team’s Kia MVP candidate is vital, especially given Milwaukee’s salary-cap limitations. I can’t see GM Jon Horst snagging an alternative No. 2 in the next couple weeks. So it’s on Middleton to demonstrate his true worth from now through springtime.
Shaun Powell: It’s Khris Middleton. However, this team is pretty close to being a shotgun-by-committee because of what Malcolm Brogdon and Drew, er, Eric Bledsoe and others bring almost on a nightly basis. And you could also make an argument that the second star is coach Mike Budenholzer. He changed the offense, introduced the 3-pointer and employs a solid defensive scheme.
John Schuhmann: If the Eastern Conference coaches need a suggest for a second All-Star from Milwaukee, Eric Bledsoe is the pick. He’s been a more efficient scorer than Khris Middleton, more of a playmaker than Malcolm Brogdon, and an important on-the-ball defender for the league’s No. 1 defense. But really, it doesn’t matter who the Bucks’ “second star” is, all of their starters have played important roles, and while Antetokounmpo is the MVP right now, he’s got a terrific ensemble around him. What’s interesting is that the team with the league’s best pace-adjusted point differential by a wide margin has a starting lineup that ranks just 15th (at plus-4.3 points per 100 possessions) among the 26 lineups that have played at least 200 minutes together. The Milwaukee reserves have been critical to the team’s success as well. What’s even more interesting is that (assuming Middleton declines his player option) each of the other four starters will be free agents (and worthy of bigger contracts that they currently have) in July. No matter how things go in the postseason, the Bucks are going to have a very interesting summer.
Sekou Smith: I don’t know if the Bucks have a legitimate “second star,” though Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe do a fine job of playing that role at times. I’ll be curious to see if the Bucks get two players on the All-Star team this season, and if so, who gets the nod. The beauty of what Mike Budenholzer has built (in short order) in Milwaukee is that it almost doesn’t matter who the No. 2 guy is alongside Giannis. An assembly of high-quality players backing up “the Greek Freak” is more than sufficient for contention in the Eastern Conference this season. Crafting the right system to take advantage of all of these guys the way the Bucks have is just another example of Bud’s perfect touch.