Here are some things about the Bucks of late

Here are some notable things that have happened since last we broke down the Bucks. We also recognize that recaps have gone missing lately. It’s a long season.

Here’s a recap of stuff that we’ve missed:

The Bucks Have At Least Three Good Players

Since the All-Star break, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton have averaged 26.9 minutes per game together. Across 22 games, that’s 592 minutes. Milwaukee is +54 or 2.5 points per game when they’re out there together. Given the volume of minutes and positive point differential, it’s safe to say that’s Milwaukee’s best three-man lineup.

That’s great news! Those three guys are the guys Milwaukee is building around. It’s beautiful when a plan starts to come together. I say “starts to come together” because they still have a long way to go. Other three man groups over the same date range:

  • Curry/Thompson/Green: +175
  • Horford/Korver/Millsap:+140
  • Aldridge/Leonard/Parker: +104
  • Durant/Westbrook/Adams: +104
  • James/Love/Smith: +89

Those trios aren’t just better than Milwaukee’s core right now, they have much better supporting casts. That explains the mounting losses, despite a generally positive vibe that’s blossomed in the second half for Milwaukee. No one claims the Bucks have arrived just yet, only that you can see something taking shape.

One fun fact: Giannis/Parker/Middleton all rank in the top 16 in drives per game among players 6-7 or taller in the second half. No other team has more than one player in the top 16.

If Giannis and Parker can shoot threes at even a 30% clip next season, Milwaukee’s offense is going to be very versatile, given that combination of penetrating and shooting skill. That’s a HUGE if right now, but it’s easy to imagine because both guys are so young and dedicated to improving.

Make no mistake; these three will continue to evolve as players. The next challenge in Milwaukee is building a better cast around them.

Tyler Ennis Is Maybe Okay?

Oh man, is Ennis one of the guys that can take shape alongside the new big three? Who saw that coming? A lot of digital ink has been spilled bemoaning Ennis on this website, so it’s only fair that he receives some credit. In his ten games previous to Tuesday night’s drubbing at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ennis averaged 8.5 points, 3.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game in just under 22 minutes.

Ennis hasn’t set the league on fire the way Giannis has, but it seems clear that Ennis can, at least, be a functional NBA player. He’s hit a few floaters and had enough success at the rim that it seems legit, rather than lucky. Evidence that he was even just okay didn’t really exist earlier this season. With Michael Carter-Williams, O.J. Mayo and occasionally Jerryd Bayless out, Ennis has received consistent minutes for the first time in his career, and it has done wonders for him.

Being a young player seems tough. You never know when you need to be ready and when you’re thrown into a game, the margin for error is slim. Ennis has taken advantage of the extra rope he’s received of late. He’s already under contract for basically nothing next season. It’d be a shock to see him fail to make the roster come October. Whether he’ll be Milwaukee’s backup point guard or backup backup point guard is probably going to be up to him. I’d still bet on the latter, but not as confidently as I would have a month ago.

I’d still bet on the latter, but not as confidently as I would have a month ago.

Rashad Vaughn Has Left Lots To Be Desired

It hasn’t been all dunks, Euro-steps and player development in the past month. Here’s the bottom half of a list of Bucks rookies that played at least 820 minutes in their rookie season, ranked by PER:

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.56.28 PM

The second last player on the list of 38 had a PER twice that of Vaughn’s. Not good. A few guys on this list made major improvements over the course of their career, specifically Giannis, Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. Alton Lister carved out a long, productive career with a three-year peak that was above average.

Everyone else? Pretty bleh. Milwaukee picked Vaughn knowing that he was a younger than average prospect and would need some time to develop. Hopefully after a full season and an off-season of experience he’ll be able to come back next season and make an impact.

Right now, his future doesn’t seem so promising; as I was writing this, he air balled another three. He played 45 minutes against the Cavs and scored 10 points on 4-17 shooting.

Categories: Ridiculous Things

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  1. Jeremy,
    I really miss your recaps/grades. Just want you to know that I always look forward to reading them & miss them when they aren’t there.
    More substantively: I think Vaughn is really making strides defensively. I suspect Kidd et all stress defense; so that’s noteworthy, esp for a guy who was chosen bc of his offense. So maybe there’s hope. Next year…

  2. With Jane on this. I miss a lot of games and have routinely come to this site for a couple of years to hear about what the squad’s been up to. I needs more recaps.

  3. Agree with Jane and Logan
    Whether I agree or disagree on any given day, you guys at Bucksketball are very good — but you haven’t been there for us this season. (If something is not okay with anyone, then my sincere prayers.)
    This site of Bucksketball has shown signs of becoming a fun and interesting place to get information and opinions from the staff, and then to exchange comments with other good and knowledgeable fans. It would be sad to lose this opportunity. We Bucks fans have had it rough, and it would be nice to have a solid refuge for commiseration and encouragement.
    My hope is that Jeremy & Co. will finish this season strong, and then continue into the future with a consistent sharing of observations and thoughts, with more encouragement for fans to add to the site with passionate but friendly discussion.

  4. A problem for Vaughn. I think fans are overestimating his 3 point shooting. he’s been awful this year. But not that great in college (38%) or in the summer league (34%).

    I know he’s 19 but IMO to make it in the NBA he will have to develop a total game. He’s NOT a sharpshooter.

  5. Jeremy,

    Can you (or anyone I suppose) speak to what Ennis and Vaughn have done defensively against point guards?

  6. Jane, Logan, Swisch: Thanks for the feedback. I understand the disappointment of coming to a website with an expectation and not having that expectation met. It’s as if a social contract has gone unfulfilled. I’m truly sorry to you guys and the other dedicated readers of the site for that lack of fulfillment.

    Truthfully, I’m not sure what the future holds for Bucksketball. While I’ll always have some thoughts on the team I’ll want to share, I’m at a very different stage in my life than I was when I started the site. My priorities have shifted, my goals have shifted and the time I can allot for thinking the necessary volume of thoughts to contribute to the Bucks conversation in a way that I feel good about is not what it once was. Will Bucksketball fold up shop anytime soon? Probably not. But I can’t say that I ever aspired for Bucksketball to be a daily recap site.

    One might think, “Why not just take on more people to do that work?” I’ve always been hesitant about this for two reasons:

    1. Because the way this site writes and thinks about the team will always be a reflection of Bucksketball itself, which is a very personal thing to me. I’m not willing to bring just anyone onto the site as a writer – which I realize is comical when you look at the sheer volume of grammatical errors on the average post I allow to go up. My big picture vision is often clouded by my present day reality.

    2. This is not a huge moneymaker of a gig. Realistically, I’m not going to be able to monetarily compensate anyone in a way that even close to makes up for the work that is required in doing even 15 recaps in a season. Many people are willing to do that gig for clearly unequal pay, given the opportunity and the material – a sports team they’re watching anyway – but I am weary of asking for what I still deem too much.

    Certainly I could just work harder and maybe use my time more effectively, which would allow me to get up posts in great volume once again, but it wouldn’t be with the same energy, passion, love and insight that I once had. Maybe I’m burnt out, or maybe I’ve been too close for too long or maybe this is just the evolution of life.

    I guess what I’m saying is that Bucksketball may shift at some point in the future away from being a daily site into … something else. Something more erratic, but more passionate. We’ll see. We’re at that point in the season where my mind begins to drift towards next year and how I’ll approach it.

    But I love you guys for following for so long – Jane I remember the nice comments you left when Fear the Deer was heading to the playoffs and I was still a student, and Swisch, you have no idea how many of my conversations your alias has been part of – and I hope to continue to in some way, shape or form provide more sound insights for years to come.

    • Thanks for sharing, Jeremy. While I may not be the most active participant on this site, Bucksketball has been my favorite site over the years. It’s safe to say the work you and the staff have put in here has made me a better basketball fan. I can understand how your life outside of Bucksketball has grown and I certainly won’t push you to work on something you’re less passionate about. With that being said, I still look forward to any updates from this site, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride so far.

    • Jeremy, thanks much for your heartfelt reply.
      It does seem impressive the amount of research required by you and the other writers at Bucksketball. I really appreciate being able to come here over the past few seasons to grow in knowledge about the Bucks, as well as to get opinions.
      It’s been fairly easy for me going mostly by intuition as I make my comments sincerely and passionately, but also realizing I might be wrong to a lesser or greater extent. For better and worse, I tend to go by my limited experience as a former hoopaholic long ago, playing limited minutes for my high school team, then lots of pickup and intramural games in college. When I evaluate the Bucks, I look for the kind of guys I liked to play with, the kind of guys I would’ve liked to have been on the court. I like guys who have a good feel for the game, good court sense; who are involved and alert and intelligent; and who interact well on the court with their teammates. I’m especially a fan of ball movement and team basketball in general, because that kind of basketball was really fun for me, feeling that participation and synergy and camaraderie. It’s a big reason why I’m such a big fan of the Wisconsin Badgers and the movie, “Hoosiers.”
      What Bucksketball has given me is a smart forum for learning more about basketball and the Bucks, and then putting my ideas out there with the hope of getting good feedback, agree or disagree, from the staff writers and other fans — and there seems to be a really good group of other fans here who make very good comments with a very nice tone. I’m really grateful for all of this at Bucksketball. I wish you, Jeremy, and Preston, and Nick, and all of the other staffers past and present the very best as the site undergoes a possible change in approach, and as your lives move forward.

      • P.S. Jeremy, I still remember, a couple of summers ago, when you said that you found yourself rooting unexpectedly for the unheralded Scott Suggs because of some favorable things I had written about him in the past. I really appreciated the shout-out.
        Along with your good analysis, you have a good heart. Whatever you might do with changes to Bucksketball, those are good traits for a promising future.

    • I think everyone needs to remember that the NBA season is long. Way too long. So I am not surprised by the low activity on this site right now when it’s the end of the season for a bottom league team. That isn’t a bad thing either. If the Bucks were a more competitive, and top team, hell even a 6-8 seed playoff team, I’m sure there would be more updates. But what is there to really say right now besides Giannis, Parker, and Middleton are the upcoming and shining core, the bench is abysmal, Monroe and MCW don’t fit with the team, and the corner three is the Bucks worst enemy? Everyone needs to sit back, watch these special moments by a special player in Giannis’ play, and start looking forward to the offseason moves the Bucks will make to surround their big 3. This reminds me of the complaints of no updates during the summer. The recaps were regular in the middle of the season and it was great, now it just isn’t necessary. Even if Bucksketball never becomes a daily site, I love the weekly podcasts and that is what I look forward to most. Thank you Jeremy and company for giving us a great site. Keep those drops going on the podcasts.

    • Hey Jeremy,

      As someone who does some freelance work and write for my own website, I can certainly relate to the amount of time and effort that goes into every post. The writing, researching, editing, etc and there are times when you think it is crap and just want to throw it all away or never post it. I mostly do personal finance and money related topics but obviously, the amount of analytics and numbers that has come into the game it is pretty relatable.

      This probably isn’t the best way to reach out, but if you do want to give someone a try for a staff writer just let me know, I know the season is coming to an end but possibly a great way to train in the off-season. You have my info and if interested I can give you all the details on my writing examples, etc.

      Either way I really like the site and of course the Bucks!

  7. Welcome Back Jeremy. First off I just want to state that I saw the Tyler Ennis as a player coming, I’ve been saying for over a year to any one that will listen that he’s better then MCW. He handles himself extremely well, has a good dribble, good court vision, and unlike MCW can hit floaters, threes, baseline shots, etc. I serious believe he could be the point guard of the future as long as he gets the opportunity. I think he’s better then MCW on the defensive end too, compare their one year numbers at Syracuse.

  8. Ryan, I’m shocked by the progress made by Tyler, but I’m very glad to be wrong. I hope he keeps it up. It’s fun to watch when guys markedly improve.