One of the biggest asterisks that has to be applied to any statistic referenced in the early goings of the NBA season is that of small sample size. James Harden is shooting 37%? Small sample size! Greg Monroe is averaging 18/10? That’s great and all, but it’s only been a few games. Steph Curry is on pace to make 425 threes? Well, he’s actually probably not human.
We’re only just starting to get into the part of the season where we can start to distinguish season trends from fast or slow starts and anomalies. To that end, I’ve compared both team and individual statistics between this season and last to determine just where this Bucks team is headed and how they’ve progressed (or regressed) from last season. One final caveat: while they are becoming significant, these are still the result of 10 games and as such do not represent the final say on any aspect of the team or a player.
Anyways, let’s get to it:
Defensive Rebounding %:
2014-15: 73.3% (25th)
2015-16: 67.4% (30th)
It’s not like the Bucks were an exceptional rebounding team last year, but they’ve managed to take it to a new low with a dead-last ranking in defensive rebounding. Despite the addition of Greg Monroe (10.2 boards per game, 23.9% individual DReb%), the team is giving up offensive rebounds to its opponents at an alarming rate that has also begun to manifest itself in the team’s difficulty in maintaining leads or catching up in games. Jason Kidd might have recognized and attempted to address this when he began playing Monroe and John Henson together in Saturday’s game against the Cavaliers, but the team is going to have to find ways to mitigate this shortcoming if they’re going to see continued success.
Team Turnovers per Game:
2014-15: 16.7 (29th)
2015-16: 15.3 (15th)
This one is interesting not only because of the improvement, but also for the dramatic increase in turnovers overall in the NBA through its first 10 games. In 2014-15, the 15th ranked team averaged 13.5 turnovers per game, meaning that a rough estimation leaves us at 1.8 more turnovers per game, per team, on average. Regardless, the Bucks have made some significant strides in that area, which is promising for team development. One could argue that the improvement is due to the absence of Michael Carter-Williams and his turnover-prone ways for several games early in the season, and it remains to be seen if that improvement will continue as he returns to the lineup.
Khris Middleton 3Pt%:
While Middleton has otherwise struggled in the early going this year (shooting 36.3% overall), his three point shooting has only improved. That, combined with drawing more free throws (3.4 vs 2 per game last year) has helped him maintain his scoring pace from last year despite the poor overall shooting. If that normalizes to last year’s clip (46%), Middleton might yet experience a breakout this year.
Speaking of impressive shooting percentages…
Jerryd Bayless 3Pt%:
This is the reason I’m concerned about the team having to rely on Bayless’ scoring to stay afloat in several recent games. Even though he’s a career 35% shooter from deep, it’s much more likely that we’ll see him regress back toward last year’s total than stay above 40%. I’d advise the Bucks to enjoy this one while it lasts and prepare for the inevitable Bayless slump in coming months.
Greg Monroe ORtg:
His boost in scoring production as the Bucks’ starting center has been matched by the team’s overall effectiveness wth Monroe on the floor. As expected, he’s been a reliable offensive option while maintaining a kind-of-OK-at-least-not-terrible 103 defensive rating. To this point, at least, the good is outweighing the bad with the team’s marquee free agent signing. His comfort as the primary center on the team–as opposed to bouncing between positions next to Andre Drummond last year–is apparent, as is his effectiveness operating in the post on his own.
Before the season, much was made about Giannis’ expanding shooting range and his green light to shoot more threes. He seems to have taken that to heart, quadrupling his shots per game. While the percentage isn’t great–only 31% on the year–the fact that he’s willing to shoot and seeming more comfortable with the idea represents a decent step in the right direction towards his eventual place as our rightful leader and basketball overlord.
Johnny O’Bryant TO%:
I don’t have much of a point to make about JOB, except that this is kind of amazing. After looking completely lost last year as a rookie, we’re starting to get a glimmer of hope that he might yet become a productive NBA player. Not only is he turning the ball over less, but he has a 4.5-1 assist to turnover ratio too! He’s found himself drawing attention at the rim a number of times this year and dropped off passes to open teammates with looks as good or better than his.
He’s also shooting over 45% from the field after barely cracking 36% last year. I know a lot of people were wondering why he was even on the roster last year, and this seems like a prime example of not giving up on a young player because he had a rough start to his career.