Decisions have been rolling in lately.
Scott Skiles will be the Bucks coach. John Hammond will (probably) be the GM. And Herb Kohl will build the Bucks a new stadium with his own money and bare hands. Or something along those lines.
The Milwaukee Bucks roster though, will be in a state of flux over the next few months. Chief among those in flux, will be Carlos Delfino. But he can look in the mirror on that one.
Delfino came to the Bucks three years ago something of a mystery. He’d played four seasons in the NBA and failed to establish himself as much other than an average 3-point shooter. He shot less than 40% and he averaged less than 20 minutes per game for the better part of his career. After his four season in the league, he ventured to Russia where he made a ton of money and played well enough.
Then the Bucks traded for him and turned him into a featured rotation player – a D and three guy. He played defense, he hit threes. He averaged better than 30 minutes per game in two of his three seasons as a Buck and when he’s been healthy, it’s been almost a certainty that he’d be in the starting lineup. He filled the gaps, knew where he was supposed to be and generally didn’t make too many mistakes in his first two seasons.
But the wheels came off last season.
Without Andrew Bogut behind him, Delfino, much like the rest of the Bucks, was exposed defensively. He gambled for steals almost constantly and didn’t come out ahead often enough. Last season, Delfino allowed .94 Points Per Possession (PPP), up from .85 in both 2009-10 and 2001-11. He plummeted from 91 to 120 to 385 in the league in PPP defensively. Milwaukee universally dipped without a center for most of last season, but the effects were most obvious when it came to Delfino. But it wasn’t just players driving by him off a gamble that hurt Delfino.
Delfino allowed 1.19 PPP to spot-up shooters last season after allowing .87 PPP on spot-up shooters in 2010-11. This was the most drastic change, as 3-point shooters abused Delfino. His struggles with spot-up shooters are a terrific example of how the lack of a true center hurt the Bucks. With Drew Gooden as the only option to defend guys like Roy Hibbert or Dwight Howard, Milwaukee had to bring extra help from the perimeter. Delfino was left scrambling back and forth, trying to pressure post players while keeping an eye on shooters on the perimeter. The results were predictably dismal.
Bucks opponents shot 35.1% from behind the arc last season after shooting just 33.4% the season before.
Gooden’s sub-par rebounding year hurt too, as Bucks guards and forwards had to wade into the paint to help secure defensive rebounds throughout the season as well. Offensive rebounds led to open threes and extra points for Milwaukee opponents all too frequently.
A lot of this wasn’t necessarily Delfino’s fault, but if he’s just another cog defensively susceptible to the same problems as his teammates, where does his value lie exactly? A strong month of April brought Delfino up to the 40% shooting plateau — for his career. His athleticism is often referred to as quiet or sneaky, which is another way of saying it doesn’t show very often. He’s pretty much limited to a 3-point shooting and ball movement role offensively.
Two seasons ago Delfino’s absence after a concussion was blamed for some of the Bucks woes. Last season he stayed healthy and the Bucks found themselves in the same place they were in when he was absent. Delfino isn’t a make or break player, he’s just a serviceable backup. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, he’s been averaging 30 minutes per game as a Buck. Delfino enters this off-season an unrestricted free agent coming off a hernia surgery.
If he’s back starting for the Bucks at the small forward spot next season, you’d be wise to avoid holding your breath on that Bucks playoff run the team has been shooting for the last two years.
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Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com.