Where do Bucks players shoot their shots and do they do it well?

Dunks and layups are good. Free throws are good too. 3-pointers are good. If the 3-pointer is taken from the corner, it’s probably better.

That’s what I’m reading on a near daily basis about the NBA and what shots offenses should be taking to ensure success. This is, for lack of a better description, The Houston Rockets Way. The strive for efficiency and succeed, behind one of the NBA’s most efficient players, Josh Smith James Harden.

So how do the Bucks measure up? I’ve been curious about this for the past few days, so I put in a bit of research. Through 42 games, Milwaukee’s offense is ranked 23rd in the league in offensive rating. The Bucks are generating 103.5 points per 100 possessions. The low ranking is interesting, given that the Bucks are ranked eighth in the league in field goal percentage, having made 46.2% of their shots this season.

But it’s what shots they are making and what shots they are taking that could predict how things will develop the rest of the season offensively for Milwaukee, not just that they are making shots now. So let’s take a look at which Bucks players are taking what shots.

This Is Where Jabari Parker‘s Loss Hurts Second Most

Restricted Area
Player FGM FGA FG%
Giannis Antetokounmpo 144 222 64.9
Brandon Knight 107 185 57.8
Larry Sanders 76 132 57.6
Jabari Parker 87 123 70.7
Zaza Pachulia 58 117 49.6

The worst thing about losing Parker was the interest that was sucked out of this season the moment it was announced he would no longer be apart of it. At the start of the year, Milwaukee was a bad team, but a team that was led by two young potential stars. We would get to spend the season watching their development. That was the selling point.

Now? Now the Bucks are a good team with one active probable star and one injured potential star. Now we get to watch a mix of veterans and young players win half their games and lose the other half. That’s the worst part about Parker being out.

But the worst on-court part about Parker being out? Milwaukee lost its best finisher. Parker was really good when he got near the hoop. He dunked a lot, but he finished his layups a lot too. One of his biggest assets was his ability to stay active in the half court, which left him open off cuts for dunks and occasionally sticking back in offensive rebound layups or dunks. Milwaukee definitely lost something offensively around the hoop when it lost Parker.

Points In the Paint

In The Paint (Non-RA)
Player FGM FGA FG%
Brandon Knight 20 56 35.7
Giannis Antetokounmpo 17 54 31.5
Zaza Pachulia 15 44 34.1
O.J. Mayo 21 43 48.8
Jabari Parker 7 41 17.1

Jason Kidd has often talked about how Milwaukee needs to win in the paint. They need to score points there, because they aren’t a great 3-point shooting team, he’s said. But the Bucks haven’t been great in the paint, outside of the restricted area. Among Milwaukee’s five most regular shooters of shots int he paint, but outside the restricted area, only O.J. Mayo ranked in the top 100 in the NBA in field goal percentage (at least 30 FGA).

Parker’s drop off once he moves outside the restricted area is particularly staggering. The guy who finishes everything around the hoop couldn’t make a shot when he took two steps back this season. This will be a big opportunity for improvement for Parker when he returns. No player in the league this season had such a dramatic split of these two percentages with the same type of volume of attempts Parker had.

Zaza Can Make Mid-Range Jumpers

Mid-Range
Player FGM FGA FG%
Brandon Knight 62 161 38.5
O.J. Mayo 46 123 37.4
Khris Middleton 39 105 37.1
Zaza Pachulia 47 103 45.6
Jabari Parker 31 83 37.3

We all can envision the type of mid-range jumper Zaza Pachulia most often takes. He’s just past the elbow. He scans the court to see if he has an obvious passing options. He doesn’t see them and he notices his man has given him a little bit of space. He fires up a jumper. I’ve seen people bemoan this shot and I’ll admit, there are nights where it feels like Zaza never connects, but he’s been pretty good. Among players who have taken over 100 mid-range jumpers, Zaza ranks in the top 20 in field goal percentage and he’s one of MIlwaukee’s most accurate mid-range shooters.

Not shown in the above chart, for lack of volume, is Ersan Ilyasova, who has made 57% of his 48 mid-range jumpers this season.

What are the differences in the corners?

Left Corner 3 Right Corner 3
Player FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG%
O.J. Mayo 14 36 38.9 18 33 54.5
Khris Middleton 15 29 51.7 7 16 43.8
Brandon Knight 9 27 33.3 9 16 56.3
Jerryd Bayless 5 21 23.8 4 9 44.4
Jared Dudley 8 18 44.4 7 24 29.2

This … this is just weird. O.J. Mayo is Kyle Korver from the right and pretty good from the left. Brandon Knight has been lights out from the right corner, but below average from the other side. Jared Dudley’s been hot from the left corner, but bad from the right. The sample sizes here are pretty small, which is playing a big role in the static on these numbers, but it’s interesting to look at. Maybe some guys do get a better feel from one side than they do from the other, because this kind of difference is not entirely new for Jerryd Bayless.

Look for him in that right three corner – Bayless has carried an above-league-average mark from that spot each of the past four seasons.

Again, not noted above is Ersan Ilyasova, who almost never shoots corner threes. He’s taken three this season, compared to 55 above the break threes. Speaking of above the break threes …

Oh No

Above the Break 3
Player FGM FGA FG%
Brandon Knight 62 159 39
O.J. Mayo 23 92 25
Khris Middleton 24 66 36.4
Jared Dudley 27 64 42.2
Ersan Ilyasova 17 55 30.9

Mayo, a perfectly capable corner three sniper, loses all ability once he shifts a bit further from the hoop. While Mayo does a lot of good things – he’s been great in the paint, reliable in the corners and a great passer this season – he does this one thing really, really bad and fairly often. The rest of the numbers stack up about as I expected, though I suspect Ersan may improve a tick as the season goes on.

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