The most difficult balance for a professional sports franchise to strike is where to fall on the continuum between patience and urgency. Among all the American sports leagues, this question is of singular importance in the NBA. Franchises rise or fall on the procurement of a single elite, top-10-level player, but no franchise can ever succeed on the back of just one superstar player alone. (Ask the New Orleans Pelicans.) When an NBA franchise lucks into one of those unicorn-type players, the team's owners must project out to when that young player will begin to enter his peak, and when is the best time to go all in on winning a championship now. And the balance between patience and urgency is as salient for the Milwaukee Bucks as with any team in the NBA this season. Last season Giannis Antetokounmpo turned into one of the elite all-around players in the NBA. He was named the most improved player in the NBA and to the All-NBA second team. He became the fifth NBA player to lead his team in all five major statistical categories; the other four – Dave Cowens, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James – are either in the Hall of Fame or soon will be. He is entering his fifth season and, at age 22, appears primed to be entering the league's MVP conversation. He is a unicorn, and one that this franchise somehow lucked into with the 15th pick in the historically awful 2013 draft. And yet, as the Greek Freak enters the first year of his four-year, $100 million contract extension, the clock has already started ticking for this franchise. The Bucks are the second-youngest team in the NBA, a team that started two rookies in its surprisingly competitive first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors last year. Patience can be easy when your team is at the bottom of the heap and lottery-bound. Patience is much harder when your fan base goes into the season expecting – and realistically expecting – 50 wins and a top-four finish in the Eastern Conference. And it's made even harder when that fan base is thirsty for success, having not won a playoff series since 2001.
Patience may be a virtue for Giannis and Bucks, but it may be a hindrance next year
CBS Sports | Sep 26