In a piece last month, I made my case on why the Milwaukee Bucks really need an NBA D-League affiliate. That piece basically talked about how the Bucks would need an NBADL affiliate if they keep on pursuing raw high-upside prospects in the NBA Draft. Because once the Bucks start to thrive and pursue the playoffs, you’re going to need a place for those prospects to develop.
Since that piece was posted, it seems like the Bucks pursuit of a D-League affiliate has intensified. Although that hunt was already progressing before that piece, we’ve started to see some more news trickle down over the last few weeks. At the time of July’s article, five cities were in the running for the D-League affiliate: Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Racine, Grand Chute (town near Appleton) and La Crosse. Since then, the Bucks have eliminated Grand Chute and La Crosse from consideration.
With only three cities in contention, it seems that we’re getting closer to seeing where the Bucks D-League team will play. Just yesterday, the Racine County Board had a meeting discussing a $40 million project that would consist a 135-room hotel in addition to an arena for the Bucks NBADL affiliate. Journal Times’ writer Mark Schaaf also reported that the Bucks executives are scheduled to visit Racine on Friday.
In regards to Sheboygan and Oshkosh, the Bucks have already visited those two cities. Although there weren’t any reports on those visits, Bucks vice president Alexander Lasry has confirmed to Ridiculous Upside that team executives have already visited those two cities.
In regards to what the Bucks are looking for in a D-League squad, Lasry said the following:
Fundamentally we’re looking for a place with a strong fanbase, good place to play and close to Milwaukee. Which all three of the finalists have.
In regards to the location, Lasry is absolutely correct as Racine, Oshkosh and Sheboygan are all within 100 miles of Milwaukee. Racine is the closest location to Milwaukee, as only 24 miles separate the two teams. Meanwhile, Oshkosh is furthest away from Milwaukee, as their NBADL affiliate would be around 89 miles away from the Bucks.
A final decision on where the Bucks D-League affiliate is scheduled for mid-to-late September. A decision in September would give the Bucks an entire year to help develop the squad. That gives them plenty of time to figure out a team name, logo and jerseys to on-court issues like head coach or general manager.
Even though we’re a few weeks away from knowing where their D-League squad will play, it’s safe to recognize that this is a huge step in the right direction for the Bucks organization. As teams like the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors have already shown, the D-League has been a great resource to either find “diamond in the rough” talent or help develop young prospects. Hopefully, the Bucks are able to take some examples from those two organizations, as they look to start their own D-League franchise.
Whether that will occur in Oshkosh, Sheboygan or Racine, Bucks fans all over the state of Wisconsin should get excited about the future of the organization.