Stumbling toward the halfway point: Spurs 110 – Bucks 82

(Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
This happened a lot. It wasn’t a very sound strategy for the Bucks.  (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)


Milwaukee Bucks 82 Final
Recap | Box Score
110 San Antonio Spurs
Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -5

Remember those three games when he looked good after his ankle injury? The puzzling shooting inconsistency that’s plagued Ersan throughout his career has reared its head once again and when he’s not scoring he loses all value.

Larry Sanders, C Shot Chart 21 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -5

Committing only two personal fouls was an achievement of its own – and both of those came in a five-second stretch guarding Tim Duncan. Otherwise, there wasn’t much to extrapolate against a performance that came largely against San Antonio’s backups.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 11 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -10

Ridnour hurt his wrist on the last play of the first quarter and did not return.

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 8-16 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | -14

He seems to be the only player for the Bucks that can create his own shot – or make any shots with regularity at this point. The Bucks’ offense is in rough shape this year and while he’s not the only cause, Knight hasn’t been a great distributor.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -19

There were a couple of points where Giannis had the ball in transition and I was nearly pleading for the ball to go in. As he gets stronger and gains experience, those drives should fall more regularly. His halfcourt game still has plenty of room to develop.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -14

I can’t get a feel on Middleton. After a game like tonight I’m surprised to look at the box score and see that he had 8 points and 4 steals. He just seems to disappear when he’s in the game.

He’s also one of the few guys on this team that I would be ok with taking a bunch of shots. Might as well find out if someone can make them with any consistency.

Ekpe Udoh, PF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -5

Four rebounds seemed like a lot for him. That’s where Ekpe’s at these days.

Miroslav Raduljica, C Shot Chart 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -18

Played a bit, had the Tim Duncan Experience. Resumed bench-sitting.

John Henson, C Shot Chart 24 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -15

Henson is well on his way to being a night-in and night-out double-double machine. On the other hand, he was pretty easily handled by the Spurs’ bench-centric lineup and wasn’t terribly effective on defense.

Nate Wolters, PG Shot Chart 12 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -4

This guy might be worth a look at backup point guard if Ridnour misses any significant time. Or even if he doesn’t. That might be worthwhile, Mr. Drew.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 18 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -18

I mean, you don’t need an off-the-court incident to justify not giving Neal a bunch of playing time this year. His only value is derived from shooting – if he’s not scoring, his defense and general involvement are a net negative.

O.J. Mayo, SG Shot Chart 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -13

$8 million this year.

Larry Drew

It took a Ridnour injury to pry Gary Neal and Nate Wolters off of the bench. Otherwise, he distributed minutes pretty evenly, making sure that younger players got some run. That’s about all you can hope for in a blowout of this magnitude.

Two Things We Saw

  1. For a scant few minutes in the first quarter, the Bucks stayed close and appeared as though they could make a respectable game of it. Then reality set in and the Spurs ripped off a couple of double-digit runs to put the game away early.
  2. Noted towel-waving enthusiast Patty Mills burned the Bucks with 20 points. For those keeping track at home, he’s the Spurs’ third-string point guard. It was that kind of game.

Categories: Recaps,Sad Things

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  1. I really believe that when Luke comes back they should still play walters. With this team they should always be playing with two point guards in the game, guys that are willing to give up the ball. If you watch the game they play well and then when they sub in Mayo for one of the point guards the ball completely stops moving. Yeah Mayo can put up some points but the only way this team is going to win is with ball movement and team basketball. Unfortunately that whole second team the guys are fighting eachother for shots instead of working together to create shots. It is just really tough to watch, bad team basketball.

    • This team needs immediate major trades. They are a Laughing Stock. Would like to see Drew get a bit hot about this embarrassment, he is emotionless. It’s brutal to watch.

      • Sacramento offers Ben McLemore and a switch of first rounders (Sac-Town gets the higher pick and the Bucks get the lesser) for Larry Sanders. Who hangs up first?

    • Wondering where the author got his C for Nate from. For sitting as much as he has, he looked good. If Mayo and Gianni’s could hit any shots Wolters would have had 7 assists in 12 minutes of play,

  2. At 7-33, I think we’ve gotten well beyond the point where debating minutes and rotation is a useful exercise. One thing this team has proven all season long is that it doesn’t matter who plays when… when it comes to playing poor basketball and losing to anyone and everyone in the NBA, this team is all about equal opportunity. With 41 games to go, the locker room in full meltdown, and the trade deadline looming, there really is only one thing left to do this season… figure out who has a future on this team, coaching staff and front office included, who needs to go, and what kind of value their marketable players have before the end of February. Once they have those decisions made, they can use the remaining games on their schedule to develop skills, plays and chemistry, and then slide into the off-season and prepare for the draft. The friction on this team and the inability for anyone (GM, Coach, or veteran players) has fully exposed the depth of how horrible the condition of this franchise is. The rest of the season should be fun…can’t wait for that Caron Butler (Projectile) Bobblehead night… haha….

    • meant to say “the inability for anyone (Coach, GM, veteran players) to find a unifying theme has fully exposed…”

  3. This off-season, I insisted that Brandon Knight was every bit the player Brandon Jennings was. Many posters poked fun at that. Well, right now, according to Hollinger, Knight’s PER is slightly ahead of Jennings’.

    However, perhaps I was wrong when comparing Knight to Jennings.

    I assumed the Bucks would use the 22-year-old Kentucky product as a PG. So far, he’s been more of a combo guard, especially since January’s move from Mayo to Ridnour in the starting lineup. Let’s see, then, how Knight ranks with shooting guards across the league:

    — Knight would rank 9th among all starting SGs in PER (and 16th among PGs). That puts him well above average as a starting guard and in the upper third of all NBA guards.

    — Knight’s TS% would rank 15th among SGs (His 52% shooting percentage since Mayo was sent to the bench and Ridnour was inserted in the starting lineup would rank 2nd.) When comparing him to PGs, he grades out better. Overall, he is, again, decidedly above average and in the upper quartile.

    — Knight’s TR% would rank 8th overall among SG starters. Over his past 10, Knight’s RPG would rank 19th. As a PG, Knight’s among the top rebounders. As a combo guard, then, he’s above average. Well above average.

    — Knight’s assist rate (when adding in usage rate) would rank second. His last-ten APG would rank 5th among starters, at 3.8. As a PG, his stats are far lower. Still, he’d rank in the upper third percentile of the league’s guards overall.

    — His turnover percentage (as related to usage) would rank 24th, as would his TO/G over the past 10. This is his biggest weakness and would rank him among the bottom third of all NBA guards.

    — His defensive rating would rank 22nd overall, but his steals per game would rank 4th (again, since sliding over the SG duties). Overall, he’s in the top quartile of all NBA guards in steals.

    — His PPG would rank 11th in the league (His PPG average since taking over Mayo’s spot– over the past 10 games– would rank third.) When compared to all guards, Knight’s PPG and PPG/usage rate would rank in the upper quartile.

    — His 33% 3-pt. percentage (both overall and over his past 10 games) would rank 11th among all NBA starting SGs. When compared to all starting guards, his long-distance shooting percentage is well above average and within the upper third.

    While not an All-Star, Knight’s combo guard numbers are really, really solid. (And well above comparables such as Jeff Teague, Ty Lawson, Eric Gordon, Joe Johnson, Bradley Beal, Kyle Korver, Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lin, Ricky Rubio, and Trey Burke. Among many, many others.)

    When added together, he’s a well above average NBA guard, capable of putting up 30 points, 10 rebounds, or 10 assists on any given night.

    There’s a lot to like there. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk reaction of Milwaukee fans seem to be a collective “meh”. And his game-day grades continue to rank less than that. (His average, so far in the “Grade Report” is a less-than-flattering C.)

    The Bucks suck for a variety of reasons, chief among them:

    1. Larry Sanders was hurt for 20 games and has regressed a great deal in the games since. He was supposed to be the dominant defensive monster and improved offensive star of this team. He was supposed to be a 15/12 guy with three blocks a game. Sadly, he’s been well below league average in the games that he’s played and hurt (or kicked out of) others. That Sanders gets relatively little grief from this site is remarkable. Sanders grades out as the third worst starting center in the league. 27th. Ick.

    2. Ilyasova has been among the worst shooters in the NBA this season. If Sanders was supposed to be the bell cow of this team, Ilyasova was supposed to be his wing gunner. That… hasn’t happened. Again, limited by injuries, Ilyasova ranks worse than every other starting PF in the league aside from Shane Battier’s desiccated corpse. Double ick.

    3. OJ Mayo slumped badly, Caron Butler got old fast, Khris Middleton isn’t athletic enough, and Giannis is remarkably young and too thin. Put them all together, and they’re a whole boatload of craptastic minutes wasted. (Aside from Giannis, who needs this time for next season.)

    The backcourt so vilified by this site has actually performed decently. Ridnour and Wolters, between them, have been below average, but not egregiously so. Right now, Ridnour’s playing to boost his trade value. (Good back-up PGs– and he’s one– are vital to playoff teams. A team like Washington or Portland would love to have him, for example.)

    And Knight’s been one of Milwaukee’s two bright spots (along with the emergence of Henson) this season. He’s still only 22 (the same age, ironically, as Wolters) and likely to improve. The league is moving toward using more combo guard backcourts (a la Phoenix, Boston, and Dallas), as they’ve finally realized how poorly most SG post up and/or work in isolation, even on shorter defenders.

    Unfortunately, it looks as if Bucksketball hasn’t noticed. At all. Instead, Knight’s been lumped in with all the other suck in Milwaukee.

    • So….ok. Knight has decent numbers. And he’s young. And you think the Bucks should keep him. That was a really long way of saying those basic things. I’m not criticizing your take… I’m just asking, what does it matter if a writer or two for the Bucksketball blog don’t think he’s as valuable as you do? His numbers are his numbers, and a couple of writers are not going to decide who is kept on this team for the long haul. John Hammond or (hopefully) his replacement will. That being said… I COMPLETELY agree with you about Knight’s value… I hope they keep him around because he’s one of the few guys who is still playing like a professional, and he’s only going to get better. I also completely agree with you about the reasons why this team has failed this year…all of which could have been combined under one indictment… poor talent evaluation / failed player management. That’s Hammond 1, that’s Kohl 2, and that’s Drew 3.

      • I didn’t just claim Knight should be kept and is currently being severely undervalued by Buck fans– I used evidence to (hopefully) prove it to the posters and writers on this site.

        For the most part, Milwaukee fans are, at best, ambivalent about Knight. They should be wildly excited about him. He’s played, thus far, as well as any Buck guard since Michael Redd and Mo Williams in five years ago. He’s also just 22.

        Knight is the type of player you can use for a decade or more– and at either guard position.

  4. Look how far Sanders and Illyasova’s value has fallen. To start the year they were ranked as the Bucks best two players by far. Their poor play is the #1 reason the Bucks are where they are.

    Sanders- The idiotic off the court injury sucked any possible momentum the team might have had going into the season. Now back, he mostly looks like the Larry of 2 seasons ago. Routinely gets muscled around, has made no offensive strides whatsoever, seems to not play with any of the same intensity which got him the big contract. Still blocks shots but with little game impact. Of course, continues to be a real threat to draw multiple technical fouls and ejections seemingly at a moments notice.

    Ersan- On a night to night basis looks absolutely awful. Everyone knows his shot isn’t falling but what happened to the old “Hustling Ersan”? You know, the guy that got to the extra rebound or made the extra pass with regularity? Not only is his scoring way down, but he doesn’t defend anyone, either. This guy is a starter in the NBA? Sadley I think he’s one of the few that truly misses the swag twins. Other teams had to make sure Jennings and Ellis didn’t go big so that often left Ersan wide open. Sorry, those days are over. Truly, is there anything more pathetic on the Bucks that Ersan trying to “create off the dribble”? Yuck.

  5. Point well taken that we might be overlooking and underappreciating Brandon Knight though the current perception of him might be clouded by concerns about his role with the team. We truly might have a budding star in our midst!

    I’m really reluctant to give up on Larry, though his anger issues are scary in someone who has been thought of as a feature player for the future. I still think he can be really great, including the potential to be a solid player on offense with 15-foot jumpers and short drives to the hoop. I agree with the commenter who said recently that this could be a good project for Scott Williams.

    I’m also reluctant to say that Khris Middleton is lacking in athleticism or to place any other limitations on him. He, too, is really young, and it’s hard to evaluate him given the current condition of the team.

    What I like about the Bucks is that we have some young guys in John, Giannis, Brandon, Khris, Nate, and even Larry, who seem like really good guys in character as well as skills. It’s a tough situation for everyone on the team. I just hope we don’t lose our young guys in what appears to be a strange mixture of confusion and stagnation.