As much as I’d like to think Corey Maggette turned some kind of corner against the Magic and will earn steady playing time the rest of the season in which he’s productive, I remain skeptical. In an Insider piece for ESPN.com today, John Hollinger lists Maggette as a member of his All-Disappointment team — with good reason.
Maggette has been incredibly disappointing this year, not only because he’s been a shell of his former self as a scorer, but because he’s often been so bad on both ends of the court that he’s failed to even earn minutes. Alone, this would be a troubling issue for the Bucks. But his below average production doesn’t stand by itself in a corner. It’s smack dab in the middle in one of the many rooms full of problems for the Bucks.
The Corey Maggette Wrecking Ball that’s been turned onto the Bucks instead of their opponents has amplified the problems at the small forward spot for the Bucks. If Carlos Delfino were still playing, Maggette’s struggles would be noticable, but nothing Milwaukee wouldn’t be able to withstand. But Maggette’s poor play and Delfino’s absence have left Luc Mbah a Moute logging more minutes at the three than anyone would like to see.
Recently Chris Douglas-Roberts has gotten more action at the three, and he’s produced somewhat better results. But he’s still limited and rough around the edges offensively. So, despite a strong start to the season, Roberts has played like many would expect a third year, second round pick who is getting his first taste of supposedly meaningful basketball after spending two years with the Nets. He hasn’t exactly been a godsend.
The play of Milwaukee’s sub-par forward trio has been reflected in the numbers.
Last season, led primarily by Delfino, Milwaukee’s net small forward production resulted in a 14.6 PER according to 82games.com. That’s a tick below the league average of 15, but Milwaukee wasn’t crippled at that spot. And Delfino’s perpencity for ball movement was reflected in the group’s 1.58:1 assist to turnover ratio. Delfino is as perfect a fit at the three in Milwaukee’s offense as possible. At least when he’s making shots he is.
With Delfino largely removed from the equation this season, Milwaukee’s small forward position has been significantly below average. Their net PER is just 10.6 and their assist to turnover ratio has fallen to just .82:1. For those of you who aren’t especially fond of math, that means Milwaukee’s had more turnovers than assists at the three this season. And I haven’t even gotten into the 3-point shooting yet. But do I really need to? Do I really need to say much about the 3-point shooting of Maggette and Mbah a Moute?
The issues the Bucks are currently having demonstrate the importance of a player being the right fit for a team. Not only was Delfino a good fit, but Maggette and Mbah a Moute especially are bad fits at the three for Milwaukee. That’s why the absence of a role player like Delfino has been so significant for Milwaukee.
So here the Bucks sit. Seven games under .500, with Delfino still improving, but not all that close to returning. In the meantime, they’ll continue to trot out small forwards unable to shoot from deep and more likely to turn the ball over than to assist a teammate in scoring.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).