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FutureStarrNBA Draft Prospects - Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers
The Milwaukee Bucks are one game away from securing the top spot in the NBA standings, as they take on the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday have been the stars for the Bucks this season, each averaging over 30 points per game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece to Nigerian parents and began playing basketball at age 11. He first joined Filathlitikos youth league team before joining the Bucks in 2013, earning back-to-back MVP awards and leading them to their second NBA championship in 2020-21.
He has been a dominant force on both ends of the court, and his electrifying style of play earned him many admirers and accolades throughout his 10-year career. He earned multiple All-Star selections, leading the Bucks in scoring this season with an average of 30.4 points per game.
Since returning from injury, Antetokounmpo has been an unstoppable force. In each of his last three games, he scored at least 30 points, averaging 28.5. Additionally, he recorded double-doubles in each of those four matches and has scored at least 20 points in each of his past nine contests.
The Milwaukee Bucks are the NBA's top team this season and they have a good chance to win their next game against the Indiana Pacers. After winning 21 of their last 23 games, Milwaukee is considered a heavy favorite to prevail in this contest.
Despite losing two of their last three games, the Pacers still have a chance at making the playoffs. They must overcome a 13-point deficit in the first quarter against the Bucks and finish strong to have any chance at making it happen.
Furthermore, they must avoid losing their star player. Tyrese Haliburton has been out due to a knee injury for the last two games and looks unlikely to return in this one as well. That could be an advantage for the Bucks as they will likely have a more balanced offense without Haliburton in the lineup.
Brook Lopez has been an integral part of Milwaukee's success since their arrival in 2018. His abilities as a post player, scorer down low, and floor protector are second to none; plus, his shot blocking abilities are unmatched by anyone else on the team.
He has started in 65 of the 66 games this season, making him the most reliable player on the roster. His durability has kept Milwaukee in contention for a playoff spot.
It's hard to imagine how this team would have reached its current position without Lopez. His impact has been a major reason why Milwaukee boasts the best record in the NBA.
After serving as a reliable backup to Giannis Antetokounmpo for two seasons, Lopez has taken his game to another level this year. He's averaging a career-high 2.5 blocks per game this season, ranking third in the league.
Milwaukee's frontcourt will have plenty to celebrate this year with Lopez back in the lineup. His presence provides them with a veteran post scorer, something they lacked during their championship run last year.
His rebounding has seen a marked improvement this season, ranking third among starters with an average of 5.3 rebounds per game - an impressive improvement over his previous average of 4.2 per game.
However, his offensive production has declined significantly this year; he's shooting 34% from the field this year compared to his career average of 46%.
If Lopez can return to full health and start playing well, Milwaukee will be in a stronger position to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. His presence on defense will also be invaluable as an excellent rim protector who can shut down opponents from within out.
Jabari Parker is an incredibly gifted player, but his career has been hindered by injuries since entering the NBA. In 2014 he tore his ACL and had to miss all of his rookie season while recovering. Thankfully, Jabari is back healthy and playing well for the Milwaukee Bucks.
He was recently named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November and has been an instrumental factor in their recent success. Additionally, his shooting skills and keen sense of team defense are unbeatable - essential elements that ensure any team's victory.
At Milwaukee, Parker averaged 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a valuable bench player for the Bucks, helping them to recent success despite Giannis Antetokounmpo being out with an injury. As such, Parker has become an invaluable part of their recent success story.
While his future remains uncertain, he appears to be progressing well and his impact on the team continues to grow. He has become one of the Bucks' most versatile players, capable of scoring from off-ball positions or providing dynamic playmaking from the bench.
The Bucks have had a slow start this season, but they remain in contention and have an outside shot at making the playoffs. To reach that goal, they'll likely need to win lots of games, but their young core of players should allow them to build upon recent success.
The chemistry between players on the court is growing, and Jabari Parker is beginning to show signs that his injuries are behind him. His minutes on court have no longer been limited medically, his impact has increased, and he's growing in confidence as they head into their final stretch of the season. Jabari hopes he can remain part of this team for years to come and continue to contribute his talents.
Victor Oladipo is the star two-guard for the Indiana Pacers and has led their team to multiple victories this season. His performance has earned him several accolades, including NBA All-Star status and recognition as a two-time Eastern Conference All-Star.
This past season, the Pacers were considered underdogs. But now they sit atop the NBA with 18-9 record and are closing in on a playoff spot. Additionally, they rank among the top five teams for fantasy points per game with an average of 18.5 points on 51.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Rumors swirled that Oladipo would be traded from Indiana during the offseason, but he stood firm and was given an extension. Additionally, the two-time All-Star was an integral part of Indiana's run to the second round of playoffs where he averaged 22.7 points and 6.7 assists per game over four games against Miami.
He's averaged 5.5 points and shot 30.0 percent from the field over his last seven games, suggesting he will still see plenty of action in the paint this season. Additionally, he is an excellent rebounder and defender - making him a valuable asset for fantasy teams.
Oladipo was an integral part of Indiana University's 15-1 start that helped the Hoosiers reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years. He earned him both All-Big Ten Defensive Team and Honorable Mention accolades.
He was an integral part of the Indiana Pacers' breakout success in 2017-18, averaging 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists over 70 games. He made his first-ever All-Star Game appearance and earned recognition on both the NBA Most Improved Player and All-NBA Third Teams. Furthermore, he led the league in steals while being a finalist for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award.
Myles Turner has been an integral part of both the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers for four seasons, serving as their longest-tenured player on the current roster. He earned a reputation as an outstanding rim protector during that time.
His impact has been immense over the years, making him a valuable addition to any team's frontcourt. A strong rim-runner with an impressive history of scoring double figures while providing strong offensive rebounding output, his impact has been undeniable.
He's an outstanding defender and adept at blocking shots. While his blocks per game may not be as high as they were in 2020-21 (3.4) or 2021-22 (2.8), he still ranks fourth among qualifying centers this season with 2.4 blocks per game.
He's an impressive spot-up shooter and has demonstrated that he can be successful on both ends of the court when given possession. In 2022, his true shooting percentage (61.5%) and spot up three-point percentage (77.3%) have both set career highs.
This offseason, the Indiana Pacers made headlines by extending Myles Turner's contract before the trade deadline. This deal, one of the largest in NBA history, earned him a whopping $17.1 million raise.
With a new contract extension in hand, Turner remains the cornerstone of the Pacers' interior rotation. His production and rim-protection will help the Pacers continue their success even if there are some question marks on offense this year. Therefore, trading for Myles Turner makes sense for the Milwaukee Bucks who need another big man to complement Giannis Antetokounmpo.