Are the Milwaukee Bucks still tops in the Eastern Conference?

All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks finished with the best record in the league last season.

During the 2019-2019 NBA season, the surprising Milwaukee Bucks scooted away with the league’s best regular season record at 60-22, only to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to eventual NBA Champion Toronto Raptors. If the 2019-2020 season is intended to be an encore, the question is can they go one step better and actually win the title? 

While college basketball fans will be betting on the Sweet 16 next Match, NBA fans and bettors will be sizing up the field for a last push into the playoffs. While the Western Conference is loaded with many of the NBA’s best teams, there’s some really juicy NBA Championship future book odds on Eastern Conference teams. Currently, the Bucks are sitting at 4-1 with the Philadelphia 76ers close behind at 5-1. Things take a significant rise with the Boston Celtics at 25-1 and the Brooklyn Nets all the way up to 40-1. Clearly, oddsmakers are showing little respect for the conference as a whole. 

With the Buck’s currently rated as the Conference’s top team, let’s take a look at the team’s prospects for taking that next step forward. As a side note: NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard bolted from the Champion Raptors for a free agency deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. With his departure, the Clippers (4-1) are now favored to win it all, and the Raptors don’t have much of a chance at a two-peat.

The most notable thing about the Bucks’ offseason has been an indication the team is happy to stand pat with essentially the same team that won 60 games. It’s hard to argue with that decision, but the 76ers added some muscle and depth. Not only do the Bucks have to be as good as they were last season, but they might have to be better if the current mix of Sixers players jells,

Of course, everything for the Bucks centers around superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo who led the team in scoring (27.7 PPG), rebounds (12.5 RPG) and assists (5.9 APG). It’s noteworthy this fine young player is well on his way to becoming the best player in the league going into his 7th year in the league. Think about that for a moment. Antetokounmpo came into the league 7 years ago at the age of 17. Bucks management has shown great patience is letting him develop into a basketball monster.

Here’s the problem the Bucks may have to contend with this year. They are not going to be able to sneak up on the league any longer. SF Khris Middleton is a fine #2 and Eric Bledsoe has good stuff to offer. Other than that, they don’t seem to have the horses to contend with a lot of teams that went for a significant overhaul. The guess is the Bucks will win their division quite handily, but a wager on them to win the conference or NBA title doesn’t offer enough value for the risk. The prediction is this year’s team will win around 53 games, due in large part to playing in a division where no one made significant moves.