The truncated timetable, new CBA and still-present pettiness from the lockout is basically like throwing a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets into the offseason. Caron Butler for three years, $24 million dollars. Tyson Chandler for four years, $14 million a year. Eddy Curry back in the NBA. All the Chris Paul trades that aren’t happening. Madness, I say. Just madness.
Meanwhile, John Hammond is just making reasonable deals that the Milwaukee Bucks need. Keyon Dooling’s expulsion was necessary. He’d be buried deep in the depth chart anyway and the Bucks could use the roster spot for the 15ish other guys linked to them. Mike Dunleavy for two years and $7.5 million was also eminently reasonable.
The Bucks offense doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be good enough. As long as Scott Skiles is the coach and Andrew Bogut is patrolling the paint, the Bucks will have an elite defense. If the Bucks have a middling offense (2009-10) and not the worst offense (last year), they can be a moderately successful team. That’s what signing Dunleavy pushes them towards: being good enough.
Obvious: the Bucks need more scoring. Less obvious: they need a certain type of scoring. The Corey Maggette experiment proved that much. Let’s look at the four things wrong with the Bucks offense last year:
1) Aggressively moving the ball inside
2) Shot creation
3) Off-ball movement
4) Three-point shooting
Everyone the Bucks got during the draft address issues one and two. Dunleavy addresses problems three and four.
Just looking at basic per-game team stats between the 2009 – 10 season and last year, the most notable difference concerns three-point shooting.
2009 – 10: 7.9 3FGM, 22.1 3FGA, 53.4 eFG% (effective field goal percentage; accounts for how much more efficient a three is than a two)
2010 – 11: 5.9 3FGM, 17.2 3FGA, 51.2 eFG%
There are two reasons for this major drop in three-point production. First, John Salmons stopped attacking the basket like a madman. Salmons shots at the basket dropped from 4.2 when he first arrived in Milwaukee to 2.4 once he signed his new contract. Bogut also stopped doing work inside. His shots at the rim dropped from 5.8 in 2009 – 10 to 4.9 last year. With such a dramatic drop in production inside, opponents had little reason to leave the Bucks perimeter shooters open last season.
The next reason is that Luke Ridnour and Charlie Bell were replaced by Dooling and Maggette. Ridnour and Bell are excellent catch-and-shoot players, doing well off the opportunities created by Salmons penetration. Bell had an eFG% of 54.8 from three. 93.2 percent of his three-point attempts were assisted. Ridnour had an EFG% of 57.2 from three. 81.2 percent of his attempts were assisted. There’s nothing much to say about Dooling and Maggette’s three-point shooting beyond one of them was no good at it and the other had no interest in it.
Last year, Dunleavy was much better from three than Ridnour or Bell had ever been. He had an eFG% of 60.3, but throughout his career that number has vacillated wildly, hitting bottom at 42.3. What makes Dunleavy a particularly good fit for the Bucks system is that he’s a catch-and-shoot player into his very soul. He moves exceptionally well off the ball which explains his abnormally high level of assisted field goals at the rim, midrange and from three-point range. He can’t create his own shot, but he should be benefitting from everything Jennings, Beno Udrih, Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston are doing.
Personally, I’d like to see Dunleavy running pick-n-pops with Jennings. It’s not his forte, he never set picks for the Pacers. But Indiana run significantly less pick-and-rolls (PNRs) than the Bucks (last year: Bucks 21% of offensive plays were PNRs, Pacers were at 15%). And the Bucks have made Luc Mbah a Moute pop instead of roll on PNRs. The Bucks have tried crazier things is what I’m saying. Basically anything that can force Jennings to not get double teamed on PNRs would be fantastic.
As for his defense, let’s just say that Dunleavy turns into Dumbleavy. Hahaha, amirite? But no, seriously, the Udrih/Dunleavy backcourt should never see the light of day. Individually, Dunleavy gets hammered by anyone with marginal speed because he’s not very athletic and has bad knees. However, the headiness that makes his off ball movement good is the same thing that makes him a good team defender. He rotates well and just knows where to be. I don’t have any recent stats to back this up, but from 2005 to 2008, he finished in the top ten of drawn charges.
The biggest problem with Dunleavy is that his effectiveness is completely at the mercy of other players. If Jennings doesn’t make a leap in production this year or Jackson’s old age begins to catch up to him, Dunleavy will be limited too.
Ian Segovia is a contributor to Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter, fan us up on Facebook.