As the Milwaukee Bucks have at a rate higher than ever before, they tossed the ball into Andrew Bogut with 28 seconds left. Guarded by the much smaller Al Harrington as he had been often in the fourth quarter, he was able to back down into a spot where he’s often been comfortable from seven feet from the basket. The extended summer vacation having done his right arm wonders, Bogut pivoted and turned to the baseline and lofted up a baby hook shot.
The shot had a unique but similar fate to so many other Bogut hook shots this season when it fell limp off the front of the rim. It was fitting his shot that could have given the Bucks to lead with less than 30 seconds to play Monday was left short. With the Bucks making him the centerpiece of their offense after years of pleas from their fan base to do so, Bogut’s come up short through four games.
After making three of eight shots from 3-9 feet Monday night, Bogut’s now made just eight of 32 shots from that distance this season, leaving him at 25% through four games. Over the past five seasons, injuries and all, Bogut’ never made fewer than 41.8% of his shots from what’s been his favorite range in terms of attempts. Over the past two seasons as we’ve seen Bogut become a more aggressive fixture in Milwaukee’s offense, Bogut’s attempted 6 and 5.4 shots from 3-9 feet per game. This season he’s attempting eight.
That’s not a bad thing. More shots for Bogut has often meant more success for Milwaukee. Two seasons ago, the Bucks were 17-10 when Bogut took at least 15 shots. As he struggled through injuries last season, Milwaukee slipped to 3-6 in those games as his accuracy was far from a given. But with a right arm that he’s showed little hesitation in using, his health appears significantly better, much closer to 2009 than 2010 and he’s said as much himself.
The numbers certainly don’t reflect his rediscovered health. Beyond his struggles from 3-9 feet, Bogut’s shooting just 36.4% on post-ups in general this season, down from 43% in 2009-10. But almost nothing has changed on his attempts beyond the season. He’s getting the same looks, making the same moves and finding much different results.
Bogut’s not the only one finding different results in the NBA this season though.
The league average for offensive rating last season was at 107.9 by season’s end. As of today, the league sits at an average offensive rating of 102.9. Whether it’s shortened training camps or the suddenness of how the season came upon us all, something is up with offenses throughout the league, as we could have expected. Big men across the league have seen their shooting percentages take a tumble.
Nene led the league in field goal percentage at 61.5% last season. This season he’s made just 54% of his shots through five games. Emeka Okafor sat at 57.3% last season and has tumbled down to 48.6% shooting this year. Even Superman, Dwight Howard has seen a 5% dip in accuracy early on. It’s an epidemic throughout the league’s centers I say!
And apparently Bogut isn’t immune. Damn that lockout! But it’s a stretch to assume all of these players will be so inaccurate all season. It might take them a while to find their legs, their wind and their touch, but the top half of the league’s big men are unlikely to see such a decline continue throughout the season. And that includes Bogut. It could take him a while, there’s really no telling how long a while because we have little precident in general on this sort of thing and no precedent with Bogut, but it seems safe to assume his touch will return.
And when (if?) it does, if the Bucks continue to feed their big man as much as they have, some good things could lie ahead for Milwaukee.