If there’s been a theme to Beno Udrih’s career, it’s been this: The more he plays, the better he plays.
To an extent this is something of a misleading idea. Obviously if Beno Udrih starts off a game playing pretty well, he’s going to get a few more minutes than he might usually. If he keeps playing well most coaches would continue to play him. That’s just common sense. But let’s assume those games, the ones in which he’s playing so well a coach didn’t want to take him out, were the games in which he played more than 40 minutes.
In the vast majority of games he’s played in, Udrih has played between 10 and 39 minutes. His shooting splits (FG%/3FG%/FT%) are quite striking when separated out for every 10 minutes.
30-39 minutes: .500/.390/.861
20-29 minutes: .449/.362.782
10-19 minutes: .405/.331/.797
Udrih has been pretty effective as a shooter when given more than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, Udrih averaged 18.3 minutes per game with the Milwaukee Bucks last season. As you might be able to predict based on his career shooting splits, Udrih struggled with his shot for large portions of last season. He had his lowest field goal percentage (.440) and lowest 3-point field goal percentage in five years (.288).
Yet all was not lost for Udrih. While his shooting was erratic for the majority of last season, Udrih thrived as a creator with Milwaukee’s second unit. Specifically, as Dan Sinclair pointed out last season while the Bucks were pouring in 30 assists every game, his connection with Mike Dunleavy sparked Milwaukee’s second unit offense. Per 36 minutes, Udrih averaged 7.6 assists last season, better than his previous career high by almost 2 assists.
While the assists remained fairly consistent all season, some of Udrih’s 3-point shooting returned after the All-Star break, as he made .364 of his 3-pointers the rest of the way. He still struggled overall from the field, but so long as he’s hitting threes with more regularity, Milwaukee will absolutely take a lower overall shooting percentage. He’s never going to be relied upon as a primary offensive weapon, more as a supplementary player who maintains a focus on ball movement regardless of what players are surrounding him. His movement sense combined with both of them being capable outside shooters is what makes him and Dunleavy a potent bench combination – they naturally spread the court and are able to cut it apart with passes once it opens up.
With only he and Doron Lamb looming as full fledged guards off the Bucks bench this season, Udrih could be in line for a slight bump in minutes. Shaun Livingston and Carlos Delfino have moved on and the Bucks missed out on a few combo guard targets this off-season so 20-24 minutes per game doesn’t seem unreasonable for Udrih behind Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
And if historical statistics hold true, we could see a little more production as a shooter from Udrih to match his improved assist totals.
Jeremy Schmidt created the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter.