Consistently unimpressive: Knicks 100 – Bucks 88

Milwaukee Bucks 88 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 New York Knicks
Jabari Parker, PF 32 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -23 +/-

Another okay game from a player who seems increasingly just okay. For the sixth straight game, Parker was in double figures. In those six games he has never scored more than 14 points, attempted more than one three or four free throws. Until he’s able to start drawing free throws or shooting threes, he’s never going to be what Bucks fans hoped for as a scorer. He’s also not much of a defender. His ceiling is quite low right now.

And before you leave a comment about it or get agitated, I understand that he’s only 50 some games into a career that was impacted by a significant knee injury. But a couple of games with eight or nine free throws would be nice to see if he isn’t going to shoot threes. Carmelo Anthony was a common comp for Parker when he came out of college. In Anthony’s first month of his career, he had seven or more free throws in a game seven times. In his career to date, Parker has done so just twice.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 36 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-4 3FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +7 +/-

Giannis is shooting 42%, averaging 11.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in five January games. At times, he looks as good as he did at the start of the season. At other times he catches the ball with no one around him outside the three-point line, gets a look on his face that I have when I get ready to go out for a run in one-degree weather, launches up a shot and is fortunate to graze the rim.

Greg Monroe, C 33 MIN | 11-16 FG | 0-0 3FG | 6-7 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 28 PTS | +9 +/-

Outside of Middleton, Monroe was all the Bucks had going for them offensively. I question his ability to take over a game, even on nights where he has it going like he did against the Knicks. He has to rely so much on his teammates and takes so long to get off shots that it never seems like he can single handedly support the Bucks offense in the ways that other superstars can.

Look what Damian Lillard did for the Blazers last night. Look at what Steph Curry and Lebron James regularly make happen for their teams. Monroe very rarely has that sort of impact. He’s never made an All-Star team so perhaps it’s unfair to compare him to stars across the league, but isn’t that how he was sold to the public? Wasn’t he a prize free agent acquisition because he’s supposed to be growing into a top-tier player? We haven’t seen a top-tier guy in terms of ceiling this season so much as we’ve seen a top-tier consistency guy. Always a B+, never an A.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 22 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-1 3FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -22 +/-

After finishing consistently throughout the month of December and early January, MCW struggled in the paint on Sunday. He was just 1-5 inside the paint and couldn’t make up for those struggles anywhere else, either.

Khris Middleton, SG 38 MIN | 6-16 FG | 1-3 3FG | 7-10 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | -16 +/-

A few times early in the second half, Marques Johnson said on the broadcast that Milwaukee’s one hope to get back in the game was for Middleton to shoot them back into it, which was an accurate yet sad reflection of Milwaukee’s offensive impotency in this game. Middleton is a productive player and can occasionally shine as a scorer, but he struggles to take games over because he isn’t much of a create his shot kind of guy. He’s a great compliment, but he’s got little to compliment on this team right now.

A frustrating moment came in the second half when Milwaukee ran an inbound play to get Middleton a shot. He came off screens and launched a jumper from the corner that went in. Unfortunately, when he came around the screens he didn’t stick outside the three-point line, rather he ended up a foot inside of it. The Knicks came back down the court and hit a corner three. A lot of that happening this season.

John Henson, PF 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -19 +/-

It was disappointing to see Milwaukee’s young backup center make no impact against the Knicks after playing so well against the Mavericks on Friday night. He wasn’t quick to rotate over and help on drives. He wasn’t getting many touches while rolling to the rim.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +1 +/-

He made a jump shot, but did little else.

Damien Inglis, SF 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +5 +/-

Garbage time.

Miles Plumlee, C 6 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -2 +/-

Henson was so ineffective that Plumlee got non-fourth quarter minutes. Plumlee was no more effective than Henson defensively or as a finisher. Example: Carmelo Anthony blocked a Plumlee dunk attempt. But he did grab a few offensive rebounds, so, at least something happened.

Tyler Ennis, PG 16 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +5 +/-

Garbage ti…oh, wait. OJ Mayo joined Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez on the inactive list, so Ennis was thrust into duty Sunday night. Results were unimpressive.

Rashad Vaughn, SG 29 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-3 3FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -5 +/-

Vaughn scored a career-high 10 points. That’s kind of cool! Unfortunately, five of his points came in the last minute and a half of what was a 16 point game. So he wasn’t much of a contributor during his minutes that actually mattered. Vaughn did make a three and a pull-up jumper at the free-throw line. Outside of that, he made no impact before garbage time.

Two Things We Saw

  1. The Knicks were not on the second night of a back-to-back that went into overtime, so this was a challenging road game for the Bucks.
  2. Derrick Williams has given the Bucks some problems this season and he had another couple of powerful dunks in an eight point, six rebound game off the bench. He’s a fine role player for the Knicks. He is the obvious energy guy who seems to understand what he does well. That’s not what the Timberwolves expected when they made him the number two pick of the 2011 draft, but he never developed much beyond who he was when he came into the league. His lack of a position or any clear exceptional skill other than athleticism seems to have thrust him into an alternate career path.

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6 Comments

  1. Pablo Calzada Motta

    What do you think the Bucks need the most right now? I’ve been wondering lately what is wrong with our Bucks. I strongly believe that there is a need to ask for better performances to Giannis, MCW, and Jabari and Monroe specially. Those guys form the core of the team, and should carry the offense in a better way. I also think we should look after a forward off the bench, as Copeland, Plumlee, JOB and Inglis are completely useless… What do you think?

    • Hey, Pablo. As for me, I think we desperately need to try a new point guard, because a good facilitator can lift the whole team and enhance the development of all the guys, including Jabari and Giannis. I like Kendall Marshall of the Sixers.
      I’m not giving up on MCW at the point, but my hunch right now is that he’s more likely to become a very good outside shooter than a very good leader and distributor. With improved outside shooting, and consistent focus, I think MCW can become an excellent swingman for the Bucks, contributing at a high level as a starter or super-sub, and in all phases of the game.
      I’d play John Henson at least 20 minutes per game, and Rashad at least 12 minutes (as long as he’s at least adequate on defense). I’d acquire Scott Suggs from the D-League — my old friend Suggsy from our summer league team a couple of years ago — to shore up our outside shooting and spread the courst; he just had a nice couple of games at the league’s weekend showcase and overall is shooting 45 percent from the arc.
      I’m still wondering if the Bucks defense involves too much running around for too little results. I wonder if our guys are unnecessarily exhausted for the fourth quarter.
      A huge hooray for Khris Middleton!!! If he keeps improving each season at his going rate, he’ll be an all-star next year, and a superstar sometime thereafter. Even now, he’s an outstanding player, and seems like a great teammate — highly involved with the other guys and supremely unselfish.
      Finally, let’s be patient with Jabari and Giannis. They’re talented; they seem like good guys; and they look like winners to me. I’m always concerned about putting too much emphasis on the draft lottery, which is why I put a lot of emphasis on other things such as what I’ve just written. Having said that, I’m still not counting out Jabari for superstar status, nor Giannis. However, even if they don’t attain that lofty level, they can still be excellent parts of a winning team for the Bucks.
      Please excuse me if I got a little or more carried away with my assessments; I guess I’ve had a lot of observations and impressions building up inside.

      • I agree with a lot of what you said Swisch. I think patience is and important need with Giannis and Jabari. That said, I feel like the coaching staff should let them loose and have them the two emphasis points on the offense. Try to get them both to attempt 15ish shots a game. Anything less than 12 is just not utilizing them right. Also it should help them get used to calling for the ball, or involving themselves on the offensive end of they aren’t getting any looks for long stretches. I’m more concerned about Hensons offensive game than theirs though. I’m hoping he can learn some better footwork down low from Monroe. Also besides blocking shots he seems to just get outmuscled a lot. I hope he improves

        • You make solid points with Jabari. He’s shown flashes of offensive brilliance, which was a huge reason for his draft stock and why he ended up going #2 with the potential of going #1, but right now he plays more like an opportunist on offense and less of a potential first option like the Bucks (and the league) predicted him to be. What’s most frustrating is that for all his aggressiveness and getting inside, you can tell he tries to avoid contact, hence the lack of free throws. It makes him bulking up over the offseason seem pointless if he doesn’t want to initiate contact.

          Gotta bring up Monroe again, though: the Bucks did hype him up as a big free agent signing, but that doesn’t automatically mean they compared him to the very top players in the league, but rather another big piece of the overall puzzle for the Bucks to go along with Giannis and Parker. And for the most part, he’s been the best and most consistent player on this team, besides… sadly, probably Jerryd Bayless (gulp).

        • Saul- The thing is, particularly with Giannis, you can see the team does try to get Giannis involved and get the ball in his hands, and early in the season we saw what positives things came from that.

          The unfortunate thing is that Giannis’, his confidence, seems to get shaken very easily. We saw it last season and sadly it’s creeping back into this season. He started the year taking advantage of every good opportunity: open jumpers, easy penetration to the rim for baskets or getting to the line, and even nailing his limited three point attempts.

          But when the threes stopped falling, he mostly stopped taking them, and unfortunately he then becomes a liability on the court, and that problem is compounded when you have two other non-shooters in MCW and Parker on the court with him. Honestly, I’m astounded by how efficient Middleton has managed to be even when he’s the only legitimate three point threat on the court at times.

          Against New York, it was encouraging to see Giannis take four three pointers. But then it comes immediately discouraging when you stop to realize that he only took five non-three pointers, three of which went in.

          He needs to be aggressive. As it stands, he’s extremely hesitant and it’s hurting himself and the team. But he’s young, and hopefully in time his confidence will grow and won’t be shaken.

  2. You make solid points with Jabari. He’s shown flashes of offensive brilliance, which was a huge reason for his draft stock and why he ended up going #2 with the potential of going #1, but right now he plays more like an opportunist on offense and less of a potential first option like the Bucks (and the league) predicted him to be. What’s most frustrating is that for all his aggressiveness and getting inside, you can tell he tries to avoid contact, hence the lack of free throws. It makes him bulking up over the offseason seem pointless if he doesn’t want to initiate contact.

    Gotta bring up Monroe again, though: the Bucks did hype him up as a big free agent signing, but that doesn’t automatically mean they compared him to the very top players in the league, but rather another big piece of the overall puzzle for the Bucks to go along with Giannis and Parker. And for the most part, he’s been the best and most consistent player on this team, besides… sadly, probably Jerryd Bayless (gulp).

    (Sorry for the duplicate post: I realized I accidentally posted this as a response rather than its own comment!)