When describing the Milwaukee Bucks offensive this season, the unfortunate word that seems applicable is: hesitant.
Almost universally, the Bucks have seem hesitant to do anything. Players catch and pump fake over and over on the perimeter, they pump fake and drive into traffic instead of shooting open shots from the corners and they have been hesitant to keep the ball moving to open players. Even center Andrew Bogut, an aggressive force in the post last season, has gone from deliberate in developing post moves to down right slow.
There was hope in the Bucks win over the Rockets on Friday though. Specifically, one set seemed to illustrate everything the Bucks offense could be if they played with conviction and confidence.
See how quickly Bogut read the double team? Notice the decisiveness in the passes of Brandon Jennings and Chris Douglas-Roberts? And how about John Salmons? Salmons didn’t waste time with a pump fake or a jab step, he quickly drove the lane, aware of how open Ersan Ilyasova would be. He correctly read the play and left it off for Ilyasova to get an easy layups. Milwaukee made four passes with a purpose and successfully got a bucket.
That’s what having Bogut healthy and aggressive on offense can do for the Bucks. If he’s drawing double teams, it opens things up for the rest of the team to attack. It hasn’t always been that simple though. Bogut’s struggled at times passing out of the double team and neither he or Salmons have been able to establish themselves as the main cog in the Bucks offense. Coach Scott Skiles spoke about the issue a bit before Friday’s game.
“We haven’t established offensively yet, kind of a hierarchy of how we want to play,” he said regarding the team’s offensive issues.
“One game we get a little bit inside, another game the pick and roll game is working a little bit. Typically, like what happened last year, John came in, stabilized us and we kind of had a normal way we played. We could kind of count on it every game and we haven’t gotten there yet. We need to get there. It’s the Catch-22 of the players will feel more comfortable when we get there and yet we need production in order to get there.”
It’s possible that Bogut’s taking it upon himself at this point to establish that hierarchy Skiles was talking about. Since returning from back soreness, Bogut is averaging 20.8 points and 16 rebounds (including 5.8 offensive rebounds) per game in four games while shooting 50%. In his first 12 games, he used just 19.89% of Bucks possessions while on the court, in the past four: 29.23%. Part of this has been an increased focus in getting Bogut shots in the post and part of it has been his effort on the offensive glass. Either way, Milwaukee without question functions better offensively when Bogut’s leading the way.
With Bogut back and looking good as ever, Milwaukee may finally be heading towards something positive offensively — without hesitation.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).