Seasons are super long. So a lot of things happen and a lot of storylines pop up. Here were some from this season, ranked in order of those that were most annoying to discuss to those that were least annoying to discuss.
I am an idiot.
12. Chris Copeland will be this year’s Jared Dudley
He was this year’s Jared Dudley if Jared Dudley was who we expected Jared Dudley to be before Jared Dudley ended up being the version of Jared Dudley he ended up being.
11. Greg Monroe
10. Johnny O’Bryant isn’t that bad!
No. He is bad.
9. PLAY THE YOUNG GUYS
At points this season I’ve seen demands of more time for Damien Inglis, Rashad Vaughn and Tyler Ennis each. Of the three, Vaughn has been most consistently involved and consistently disappointing. Yes, he’s young. Yes, he may get a lot better. I’m merely saying this has been a bad season from him and he seems further, behind than even Giannis did as a rookie.
Ennis has improved late in the season and Inglis ultimately wasn’t given too much of a chance.
My big beef with “PLAY MORE YOUNG GUYS!” is the assumption that we have all necessary information to make demands with regard to playing time. How much time did you spend at practice this season? How good of a work ethic does Inglis have? Does Vaughn take improvement serious enough? Is Ennis picking up his responsibilities quick enough? I’m not sure most people can answer those questions with any certainty. You know who can? The coaching staff. So I error on the side of the staff, which time and again has proved foolish. But it’s hard for me to critique when I’m working with about 20% of the data.
8. THE YOUNG GUYS ARE PLAYING TOO MUCH
Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker played a bunch of minutes in the last two months of the season. This concerned a fair number of Bucks fans, judging from my occasional glances at Twitter lately. It’s not an unreasonable concern. It seems like players who play more become more fatigued and could be at a greater risk of injury. Middleton specifically is second in the league in minutes. The Bucks have figuratively had nothing to play for in months and literally nothing to play for in weeks.
The case that all three should have been playing less than 30 minutes every night practically makes itself. Especially once Middleton was hurt and the opportunity to move up in the lottery standings presented itself. But the Bucks forged ahead, business as usual. Middleton and Giannis played 40+ minutes against the 76ers on Sunday and 35+ against the Magic tonight. Minutes are piling up, but minutes together could be a beneficial thing. Giannis has only had a half season at point guard, so the minutes he’s getting alongside Milwaukee’s other two young stars could pay off in a big way if the Bucks get off to a hot start next season.
If all of them make it out of April without an injury and we don’t hear about any “minor” surgeries for maintenance purposes this summer, I’ll probably feel a lot better about things.
7. Steve Novak returns to Milwaukee (which may or may not be his hometown)
Three games. 20 minutes. One man questioning his background. Injuries are dumb.
6. Henson and Plumlee: Twin Towers
Going into Monday night’s game, Henson and Plumlee played 165 minutes together and had a plus/minus of … 0. These lineups weren’t very good and weren’t very bad, but they all appeared later in the season when it was time for the Bucks to experiment. This gave Bucks fans something to complain about or be intrigued with nightly.
Too much time was spent discussing their pairing.
5. What about 3-pointers?
Milwaukee didn’t defend the three or shoot the three this season. That’s bad. Offensively, it was a personal situation. Giannis and Parker started shooting threes in the past month, which has been cool, but before that, those two and MCW spent the season eschewing the long ball for drives to the basket. Sometimes it worked, a lot of times it didn’t work well enough. Giannis and Parker will likely improve next season and become at least modest shooting threats. If Milwaukee can find a stretchy type of front court player to pair with them or sub for them off the bench, the team could vault up the 3-point attempt rankings in a hurry. Kidd doesn’t seem opposed to the idea of the three, just a bit at mercy to his team.
Defensively, the Bucks most struggled with defending the corners, ending up in the bottom 10 in opponent 3-point percentage from each corner while ranking top three in attempts allowed from each corner. Teams were driving and kicking out to open shooters in the corners all season long it felt like. This has to be a focus next season.
4. Zaza, Ersan and Dudley, man
Ersan gets left out of this mix a lot, but he was just fine last year too. He wasn’t a starter, but he was a contributor. Clearly the Bucks missed whatever veteran guile it was that Zaza and Dudley brought to the starting lineup. Whether it was their communication skill, knowledge of the defensive playbook or ability to remain steady throughout a season, they did something that really helped the Bucks last year.
No one (which is who the Bucks acquired for all three of these players) stepped into that role in 2015-16, and the Bucks were much worse for it.
3. So, is MCW gone or what’s up?
Very fair to wonder about his future. MCW did not take hold of the starting point guard position and failed to show much progress, despite a healthy off-season and ample opportunity. He still isn’t much of a shooter and he’s three or four years older than Parker and Giannis, with tons of coaching under his belt. At this point, it’s fair to start wondering if he’s at or near his ceiling. Maybe he’s destined to be an okay backup point guard and maybe he can play that role in Milwaukee.
But he’ll have to adjust, because …
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo is this year’s point guard and next year’s point guard
1. Jabari Parker scores a bunch of points and proves he’s going to be just fine
Tons of dunks, too! The reason that this grabs the top spot over the glorious passing of the point guard torch to Giannis is the improbability of it two months ago. Sure, it seemed unlikely that Giannis was going to become one of the league’s most exciting young point guards, but certainly we knew he was on track to do some kind of rarely before seen cool stuff eventually.
Months ago I was comparing Parker to Derrick Williams and not feeling dumb about it. Now Parker is putting up 20 points with regularity and starting to add things to his game, like free throw attempts and the ability to shoot threes. Almost overnight he turned into the player everyone wanted him to turn into. That feels incredibly rare and worth celebrating.