Positional Reviews: The Guards Part Two

Part One of Ian Segovia’s first post here at Bucksketball was posted earlier today.  It addressed the positive aspects of Bucks guards this season.  Now, for part two.


  • Slamming John Salmons

Let’s keep this short because Salmons is going to be mentioned a lot while going through the rest of the negatives.

Many people like to point to his contract as a cause for his laziness. I will do no such thing. The reason there’s so much negativity towards the effort Salmons put forth is that the general public believes far too much in itself. Everyone believes that if they were handed millions of dollars to play basketball, they’d always play hard, do the little things and be the perfect teammate. This is bullshit. If it was, you wouldn’t have an office feud with Tammy in accounting.  You wouldn’t be on the internet right now. You’d be working, spending time with your kids, looking for a job or trying to make humanity better.

Here’s a less cynical explanation for Salmons season.

After the Bucks traded for him, Salmons became a prime scoring option along with Jennings and Carlos Delfino. But with the return of Bogut, the additions of Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden, Salmons’ touches have gone down; Hoopdata has his usage rate going down from 22.7 to 20.9. Understandable, the roster got a little more crowded than the previous year and there are only so many possessions in a game. What isn’t understandable is his lack of aggression. He only has 2.4 attempts at the rim last season as opposed to 4.2 in 2010. But all of this is in-tune with Salmons’ history, very happy as a first or second option, but goes into a funk when he’s given less to do.

Okay, that was still a bit cynical.

  • Pick n’ Roll Ball handling

The top two ball handlers in the Bucks pick and roll offense are Jennings and Salmons.. In pick and roll situations, Brandon Jennings and Salmons record .82 and .8 points per possession and shoot 38.6 and 39.8 percent respectively. Keyon Dooling is even worse. His points per possession are .75 and his shooting percentage is 39.8. The team’s best pick and roll ball handler is Boykins, who scores .88 points per possession and shoots 46.6 percent in those situations. Together, they led the Bucks to the distinguished rank of twentieth in the league in pick and roll ball handling, according to mysynergysports.

The guards’ numbers show a lack of aggression in attacking the basket. It’s a sort of malaise that affects the whole team. One can blame it on the offensive philosophy of the coaches and some of it should be placed there, but it’s still up to the players to make better decisions on the court. Instead of persevering through a big man hedging on the screen, they take the easy way out and settle for a jumper. Jennings isn’t lighting the world on fire when it comes to finishing attacks at the basket, but as noted earlier, he is getting better.

Dooling’s field goal percentages warrant that he only attack the basket. He’s shooting 65 percent at the rim, but has had shooting woes everywhere else. Salmons can still be quite good when driving through the lane. When he attacks the basket off a pick and roll, he has 1.2 points per possession. Yet, he only does so 20 percent of the time of the pick and roll.

  • Not looking inside

Jump shooting teams can be successful. The San Antonio Spurs are a fine example of this. They’re number one in the league in spot-up attempts and the Bucks are number two in that category. The difference is that the Spurs are competent and confident.

The Bucks tend to work the ball around the three-point with no looks inside, save for some dribble penetration. Their cuts are quite often along the perimeter, not inside and quite often that penetration is for the sake of getting something to the perimeter.

The Spurs on the other hand can do a post entry with Tim Duncan or penetrate with Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili. They show the defense a lot of different looks to get their jumpers. The 1:28 mark of this video is a good example.

One of the best big men in the game is on the team, but Bogut’s usage rate went way down last year to 19.58 compared to his usage rate of 23.24 from the 2009-10 season. Utilizing an inside-out look with Bogut would be huge. The Bucks can only be successful as a perimeter-oriented team, but the guards need to go inside and mean it.

Ian Segovia writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook (right sidebar).

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1 Comment

  1. “Everyone believes that if they were handed millions of dollars to play basketball, they’d always play hard, do the little things and be the perfect teammate. This is bullshit. If it was, you wouldn’t have an office feud with Tammy in accounting.”

    That’s one of the biggest strawman arguments I’ve ever seen. Quite a stretch.

    But I like the article and breakdown.