Is it odd that the Bucks got drubbed by 42 points this weekend, then lost another game, then moved up in most of the major power rankings? Because that is what seems to have happened. The Bucks moved up in the ESPN, Yahoo!, and SI polls and stayed even in the NBA.com poll. Evidently the wins earlier in the week convinced the rankers that the Bucks’ 2-2 record for the week (and 7-7 overall) deserves to see them in the middle of the pack with the other .500 and near-.500 teams.
Without further introduction, here are the Bucks’ rankings with links to each site, including the blurb written about Milwaukee in each case.
ESPN.com: Rank: 16 (Last week’s rank: 17):
At what point do we start talking about the young Bucks as a playoff dark horse? Not saying we’re there yet. Especially not after a rough weekend. Just asking: How long do we wait before we legitimately start asking if Jason Kidd’s kids, with all that length all over the floor, can snag the No. 8 seed?
Yahoo.com: Rank: 15 (Last week’s rank: 18):
Rookie forward Jabari Parker scored more than 20 points for the first time with 23 in a triple-overtime win over Brooklyn on Nov. 19.
SI.com: Rank: 15 (Last week’s rank: 16):
As I said before the season, jump on the Bucks’ bandwagon — we’re down to standing-room only. With the perfect blend of blossoming youngsters and motivated veterans, the Bucks have been the biggest surprise in basketball through four weeks.
NBA.com: Rank: 17 (Last week’s rank: 17):
Giannis Antetokounmpo shut down Joe Johnson late in Wednesday’s triple-OT win in Brooklyn, but the Bucks couldn’t get full stops against the Raps or Wiz, allowing them to convert 35 total offensive rebounds into 59 second-chance points. For the second straight season, the team Jason Kidd coaches ranks 28th in defensive rebounding percentage. (Emphasis mine)
This last insight by John Schuhmann is a massive one, crucial enough that I think my post on Jason Kidd’s defense needs an addendum because I left out a very important point — one that I’d worried about a couple of times this season, then forgotten when things were going well.
A really good defensive team might grab 80% of its defensive rebounding chances. A middling team would grab around the average, which usually hovers somewhere around 75%. The reason a defense has a better than 50/50 chance is because the defenders are usually closer to the hoop than the offense.
The overriding principle of Kidd’s defense is to put multiple men on the ball on the perimeter. This strategy is magnificent for creating turnovers, but wreaks havoc with regard to defensive rebounding because there are fewer rebounders close to the rim.
The Bucks are currently grabbing 72% of their opponents’ misses after grabbing only 71.4% a season ago. So the Bucks have gotten better, but they really haven’t — the return of Larry Sanders and the addition of Giannis Antetokounmpo to the starting lineup should have boosted them a bit further up in the rebounding rankings.
It’s a trend to keep an eye on, especially after the Bucks were outrebounded 110-66 over the course of one weekend.