Oklahoma City and Milwaukee were recently eliminated from the NBA postseason. There are many questions about both teams, and their futures are not necessarily bright.
In recent years, the NBA playoff series matching the fourth and fifth seeds is the NCAA Tournament's version of 5 vs. 12 seeds: The higher seed struggles and often is eliminated. That was the case for Oklahoma City, which fell to Utah in six games.
While it might have seemed impressive that Milwaukee pushed its first-round series to seven games, the fact they could not defeat Boston, which was playing with its best player, Kyrie Irving, unavailable because of injury, says a great deal about the Bucks.
Here is what each off-season will hold for the ousted teams.
Where Do Thunder Go From Failed Experiment?
Now that Oklahoma City's season is over, it can be said that Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony did not work, period. They struggled mightily for the first third of the season. They started to find ways to play together, but never for an extended period of time. And the tired refrain, "They're (OKC) built for the playoffs," had been put to bed.
While George is not tipping his hand, it is hard to imagine he will stay with the Thunder. Westbrook needs the ball to be effective, but so does George. Though Kevin Durant and Westbrook made it work, they were teammates from the start and shared responsibilities. George became part of Westbrook's team and tried to fit in.
Even if George leaves, that does not suggest Westbrook and Anthony are a good fit either, as Anthony no longer has that first-step burst to get to the rim. Add this to Billy Donovan being nothing more (to this point) than another average NBA head coach and one has to wonder about the Thunder's immediate and long-term future.
Bucks' Coaching, Roster Need Direction
The Bucks are moving into a new arena next year and this offseason will have a large impact on their future. You did not have to be a basketball savant to see Jason Kidd is not an NBA coach. Besides Kidd as a poor hirer, the Milwaukee roster has individually talented players, but they are hardly cohesive.
Of course, the Bucks have to build around Giannis Antetokounmpo. On any night the "Greek Freak," Khris Middleton or Eric Bledsoe is capable of scoring 40 or more points, yet can anyone say with assurance Milwaukee would even win two of those games if each player reached that point total?
Bledsoe will be 29 next season and was thoroughly outplayed by Boston's Terry Rozier. And what about Jabari Parker? Do you sign him to large contract after injury-plagued seasons? Plus, what about the frontcourt, where John Henson and Cody Zeller are nothing more than role players. Thon Maker has great potential, but do the Bucks need a 7-footer chucking three-pointers instead of more presence in the paint?
Is Milwaukee really a team on the rise or do they need to reconstructed to move forward? That is somebody else's job to determine.