Over/under. The great unifier and divider that can bring together this nation in discussion and then rip it apart in argument. I can’t get enough of over/under talk before a season starts, so I thought I’d come up with some arbitrary lines and toss them out to the Bucksketball writing staff for feedback.
One note: Sportsbook.com has the Bucks win total over/under at 28, which seemed a bit insulting to me and potentially a great thing if you’re someone who likes to gamble (and in a place where that sort of thing is legal). Not that we’re doing this for anything other than recreational purposes. But I’ve bumped the over/under up a bit to 33 for wins. Everything else I’ve established based on my own thoughts and theories.
Without further ado … let’s play the over under game.
Bucks wins: 33
KL: Over. The Bucks improved perimeter shooting should propel the team to a slightly better season than the one they had in 2012-13, but only if they improve their work on the defensive glass.
Jon: Under. The Bucks are too deep to be a bottom-five team in the league. However, barely anyone on the roster can create offense on their own and a significant injury to Sanders, Ilyasova, or Mayo would be devastating to the offense. The improved chemistry will allow them to win more games than Vegas expects, but you still need playmakers to win in this league.
Ian: Under. Somehow this is a team that can shoot, but can’t score since they lack any scoring options that can post-up or pick-n-roll. Pair that with a mediocre defense and a completely new roster and there just isn’t anyway they get to 30.
Mitch: Under. Let’s get one thing out of the way – the Bucks don’t look like they’ll be a good team this year. Intriguing? Yes. Young and with potential? Yes. But I just can’t see them doing better than they did last year, and I can see them being worse. Just remember, this team doesn’t have to be great this year. There’s room to grow.
Preston: Over. The Bucks have won less than 33 games just three times, excluding the shortened 2011 season, since the turn of the century. I have faith that their front office and players will do whatever it takes to win more than 33 games (and less than 45) for the near future.
O.J. Mayo points per game: 17.2
Jon: Over. Someone on the Bucks has to score and it might as well be the only guy on the team who can create a shot on his own. Mayo played exceptional early last season when he was the Dallas Mavericks’ number one option while Dirk Nowitzki was injured. I don’t expect him to match the 51.9 percent three-point shooting he posted in last season’s first 25 games. But he should be able to do enough to pass 17.2 points per game.
KL: Over. Without an abundance of offensive playmakers in the starting lineup, Mr. Mayo is going to have the ball in his hands often. While he’ll pass an appropriate amount, he’s also going to get enough shots to push his points over the number.
Ian: Way Over. This is simply a matter of where the shots are going to go. Caron Butler is the only other guy that has shown he can score at a decent volume and he’s on the wrong side of 30. Mayo is a decent shooter entering the prime of his career.
Mitch: Over. Mayo’s done well in the past when he was the featured scorer (see Dallas, 2012), and he won’t have to contend with another ball-monopolizing guard, leaving plenty of shots for the Juice. He won’t magically shoot 45%, but the volume enough should push him to the over.
Preston: Over. In his rookie season – the only one in which he scored more than 17.5 points per game – he posted a career-high in minutes (38.0 per game), usage rate (24.5 percent) and field goal attempts (15.6 per game). Due to a lack of playmakers around him, Mayo will probably approach or eclipse those numbers this season.
Brandon Knight assists per game: 4.7
Jon: Over. Especially if the Bucks continue to push for Larry Drew’s preferred 25 dishes a game. Only 12 guards last season started more than 70 games while recording less than 4.2 assists per game. Knight was one of those 12, but hopefully this can change with multiple three-point shooters around him.
KL: Under. The team keeps saying that Knight will be the point guard, but that designation is half based on defense. On offense, Knight won’t have the ball in his hands at all times. He’ll be sharing with Luke Ridnour, Gary Neal, and especially Mayo.
Ian: Under. It would seem kind of hard for him to not get five assists with a bunch of shooters surrounding him. Knight hasn’t shown any talent running the pick and roll. With Luke Ridnour on the roster, Knight may not get enough minutes for that many assists per game.
Mitch: Over. He’s never averaged more than 4 assists per game, but keep in mind that in his first two years Knight was 1) a rookie and 2) moved to shooting guard during his second year in Detroit after Jose Calderon came to town. He seems committed to becoming a point guard and he’s young enough to make the improvement.
Preston: Under. Knight averaged 4.0 assists in 31.5 minutes per game last season. Both of those numbers seem like fair expectations for this season. Larry Drew’s offensive philosophy, which encourages player and ball movement, could help inflate Knight’s assist numbers – but Knight isn’t a pass-first point guard, and some of his playmaking duties are going to be deferred to fellow starting guard O.J. Mayo.
Caron Butler shooting percentage: 43%
Jon: Under. Dude is old.
KL: Under. The 33-year-old shot 40.7% and 42.4% the past two seasons in a better offense with a much, MUCH better point guard. Plus, he’ll still be taking a lot of threes.
Ian: Over. Butler was relegated to a perimeter shooter while he was with the Clippers, so his FG% took a dip below 43%. Over a third of his shots with the Clippers were three-point attempts. He’ll have a more diverse shot selection without Chris Paul running the show that will benefit his FG%.
Mitch: Under. He’s on the wrong side of his prime and has begun relying increasingly on shooting outside the arc, where he’s only 38% in his career. He’s shot 42% or less in his last two seasons and it doesn’t get any easier in Milwaukee than it was in LA with the Clippers. His only saving grace might be a wiser shot selection as he gets up in years.
Preston: Under. At Media Day, head coach Larry Drew said Butler was a third or fourth offensive option with the Clippers and “that won’t be the case in Milwaukee.” So, look for Butler to be the first or second scoring option when he’s in the game. If the Bucks indeed rely on him to create his own offense – and that of others – it could get ugly.
Carlos Delfino dunks: 7
Jon: Under. Dude is old.
KL: Over. When he gets back from his foot injury, Delfino will still be gambling for the steals that lead to fast breaks that lead to dunks. Two per month gets him over the number.
Ian: Under. His foot is still broken, so definitely not.
Mitch: Under. He had 16 dunks last year, but this Bucks offense won’t afford the same opportunities that the Rockets’ potent attack did last year. Combine that fact with a broken foot that will cause him to miss time early in the season and (potentially) limit him farther into the season.
Preston: Under. According to Basketball-Reference, he dunked 16 times last season and eight times the year before. But he will have to stay healthy to get close to those numbers again – and that’s no guarantee since he’s still recovering from a foot fracture, which may cause him to miss the beginning of the season.
However, I will take the over on the number of “sneaky athleticism” references during broadcasts this season.
Giannis games played: 55
Jon: Over. It would be great if Antetokounmpo spent some time in the D-League to play starter minutes and work out kinks. But he’ll likely stay up with the big boys, play 12 minutes a night, and consistently make our hearts swoon.
KL: Over. Giannis has so much to learn, but without Marquis Daniels and Luc Mbah a Moute around, becoming the best defensive small forward on the team is a task not nearly as tall as he is. The kid could soon absorb enough teaching to do it. If he does, the DNP-CDs vanish.
Ian: Under. Once Delfino is healthy, Giannis shouldn’t be seen on the court very much. He just isn’t ready yet and will probably see a stint in the D-League.
Mitch: Under. He’s adorable and talented and amazing and I love him. But Giannis is also just 18 years old and the coaching staff seems very interested in bringing him along slowly to ensure that he develops correctly and grows into his enormous potential. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see him play some significant minutes this year, but he’ll also be given an easy workload as he acclimates to the NBA.