The Milwaukee Bucks have had a weird season. First, they fired their rookie head coach Adrian Griffin despite a solid 30-13 record through 43 games because he lost the locker room – allegedly. Then, they replaced Griffin with the unpopular Doc Rivers, who has come under heavy scrutiny because of his long history of playoff shortcomings. 

Just as many predicted, the team got worse with Rivers, starting off 1-6 and going 17-17 thus far since his arrival, including three-straight losses against deep lottery-bound opponents this past week.

However, whether under Griffin or Rivers, no one from the main guys outside of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has played really well – not their blockbuster off-season acquisition Damian Lillard, whose scoring is okay at best (24.4 PPG) and is a liability on defense, and not Khris Middleton (15.0 PPG, lowest since his injury-riddled 2016-17), who appears to be declining and has deferred a lot for Lillard.

Such has become an unfortunate hindrance on two Bucks who are contributing nicely: Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis.

Lopez, now 36, is turning into a classic, reliable old veteran. He’s still ‘Splash Mountain’ for the most part, doing a fine job protecting the rim, stretching the opposing bog men out of the paint, and knocking down three-pointers. He has 2.4 blocks per contest on the season, which is currently tied for second in the league. He’ll be a longshot to win, but he has an argument to be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.


Portis, meanwhile, on top of his usual skillset, is playing with infectious energy, just how you’d want someone to perform coming off the second unit. As Fiserv Forum’s favorite, his presence automatically pumps up the home crowd.

The 29-year-old has also shown resolve as he picked himself up from an underwhelming start to the season, going from barely noticeable to being a legit candidate for Sixth Man of the Year – deservingly being in the conversation despite the Bucks’ highs and lows says a lot too.

Ultimately, the two can only do so much, and while it’s good that each is at least getting their name into individual awards, we can only imagine how much more buzz they can get if the Bucks were as good as they were in the past couple of seasons.

In 2022-23, Lopez was second in DPOY and Portis was third in 6MOY.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury

Seemingly like another shot from the Basketball Gods, Antetokounmpo got hurt on April 10th untouched:

The two-time NBA MVP is estimated to be out for at least two weeks, but no one’s also ruling out a return as soon as the playoffs start. Lopez and Portis will be in an interesting situation – on one hand, they will get more opportunities, but on the other, they may need to be thrice as good and do it consistently while the “Greek Freak” is out. 

We’ll see how long they can hold it down. This is a type of challenge that can earn one more good contract for Lopez, and another nice payday for Portis.