You know how sometimes you just can’t find something? You’re looking and looking and then people around you are quick to say, “it’s always in the place where you least expect it?” So you go and look, say, under your washing machine, only to find out it isn’t in that place where you would least expect it? Then you see it on a coffee table, a pretty logical place where you would expect it to be.
That’s kind of where the Bucks offense is heading right now.
Finding offense hasn’t been easy for the Bucks this season. They’ve looked and looked. At various points of the season a much more Andrew Bogut-centric offensive game plan seemed like an answer, but that seems silly now. Injuries sapped some of his effectiveness earlier in the season, and just when he appeared to be getting past those, he was felled with a mystery virus about a month ago that’s still plaguing him today. Bogut said he’ll be getting more tests done to figure out just what’s wrong with him Thursday, but it doesn’t sound like he’s on his way out of the woods just yet.
The way his offense has suffered in the wake of coming down with whatever he’s come down with has made it natural for the Bucks to move elsewhere in their season long search for consistency. John Salmons has given Milwaukee flashes of positive play and has been very accurate with his 3-point shot for the better part of two months. But he missed Milwaukee’s game Wednesday against the Wizards with some hip soreness that has apparently been nagging at him for a while. Aside from that, while he’s been shooting the three well, it’s still been a battle for him everywhere else and, last season removed, he doesn’t have a strong track record of being able to hoist an offense up on to his shoulders.
So it makes sense that Milwaukee may have found their most reliable offensive performer in the guy they brought in this summer to be a reliable offensive performer. It’s your time to shine Corey Maggette.
Realistically, the Bucks as currently constructed are probably going to be around at least through the end of this season. Everyone loves big, elaborate trades, but Milwaukee’s pieces aren’t going to be easy to move this year. They have to be ready to ride it out and make the best of a less than ideal situation. With Brandon Jennings and Carlos Delfino returning, they might be the right compliments to Maggette’s certain brand of basketball.
Removing the Heat game in which he played just seven minutes, Maggette has averaged 18.7 points per game on 53% shooting over his past six games. I’ve been quick to write off Maggette’s scoring as something of a problem this season, noting that often when he scores 20 points, the Bucks lose. But going forward, I see hope here, because it’s not all on Maggette. If Maggette is scoring well and his teammates continue to shoot horribly, that’s not entirely his fault. While some would argue that Maggette’s style of play alienates teammates on the court, all of that is forgotten if they are hitting shots.
Against the Wizards, the Bucks did just that. Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins combined to shoot 14 for 21 and five of six from 3-point territory. It’s hard to expect they can continue to put up performances like that, but when Jennings, Salmons and Delfino are the other guards on the court with Maggette, suddenly his supporting cast could be making shots when he’s not driving to the hoop.
The shooters may never be a constant this season, but going forward, perhaps Maggette’s 20 points on 50% shooting will be. With increased minutes lately, Maggette’s been much more productive. One of the things limiting Maggette so much earlier this season was the actual limiting of his minutes. Coach Scott Skiles said earlier this season he wanted to be smart with Maggette’s minutes, coming off off-season ankle surgery, and make sure he was fresh down the stretch. As we head down the stretch, Maggette seems fresh, comfortable and, like the old Corey Maggette.
It’s not always roses and sunshine for Maggette on offense, that much has been proven this season. He’s still only shooting 42% on the season and in his past six games, the ones when he shot well, he’s averaged 2.8 turnovers per. Maggette’s always going to be a high usage, high turnover guy. But, if he’s shooting well, those are vices that the Bucks can live with. Given the few other players on the Bucks who have proven they can be relied upon throughout their career, it just may be time to ride his broad shoulders and hope for the best.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).