Subplots from this season, ranked

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.

13. Is Jabari Parker the next Derrick Williams?

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

Eh.

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

Huzzah!

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.

Categories: Feelgoodery

Tags: ,,,,,,,,,,,

15 Comments

  1. Those last two points = feelsgoodman.jpg

    That Parker/Williams comparison was such a gut punch at the time too.

  2. What does everything think should be the Bucks biggest goals this offseason? A few months ago I would have said acquiring a pg, but now that Giannis has been designated that role for next season that changes things. I still think they need another guard who can shoot and play solid defense. This is in addition to keeping Bayless at a reasonable price because I am still not totally sold on Ennis and I think having another option beside him would help. The question is do they try to do that through the draft, FA, or trade? They also have to look at the center situation. Monroe does not fit with this team’s style. Plumlee and Henson both are better defensively, but limited on the offensive end. This is not a bad thing because the ball should be going through Giannis, Parker, and/or Middleton each time down the floor. I like Plumee’s vertical and athletic ability to finish lobs on pick and rolls. I’m not sure on Henson and that might be because lately I’ve been pretty down on him due to his injury proneness (Is it wrong for me to label him that? Each season he seems to sit out like 20 games). What does everyone think the Bucks could get for Monroe and MCW? Or even Henson? They could possibly be used to surround the young core with good role players, or fix the incompetent bench. Also, who should the Bucks be looking at in the draft? It seems sort of weak this year and I didn’t get a chance to watch as much NCAA as I would have liked.

    • You need a lot of luck to trade Henson because of his contract. I haven’t seen any player who has worst offensive game than him and get 11mil per for 4 years. He is too thin to defense decent center in the post. It also leads to injury prone and miss about 20 games for each season. Monroe and MCW can be traded because of short contract of Monroe, and MCW is still on rookie contract, but I don’t expect much in return either. I wish Kidd isn’t de facto GM. His personel move last year is bad. The trades of Dudley, Ersan, Zaza, and Vasquez are completely failure. We get nothing in return.

    • To me, the greatest issue for the Bucks right now is whether to keep the coach, a question that cried out to me as I read this fine article by Jeremy (which I appreciate as being really interesting for thought and discussion).
      Is Jason Kidd really the guy to lead the Bucks into glory?
      It seems as though there was a lot of running around on defense for the Bucks without much to show for it in terms of stopping teams, including lots and lots of open threes for our opponents.
      The number of minutes for Giannis, Jabari, and Khris would seem insane even in a playoff year, especially with a guy like Jabari coming off major knee surgery. If we’re fortunate to escape injury, anyway, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about the judgment of the coach.
      Then, of course, there’s the record. Outside of the Sixers and Lakers, we were in the dregs of the league this season. A key consideration here is whether the Bucks looked like a team in the process of turning things around or instead just continuing its long and miserable dance with mindless mediocrity.
      I’m not claiming to be an expert on the Bucks or Jason Kidd, but we fans have some right to evaluate the coaches as well as the players, including the eye test on the court. There’s a lot we fans don’t see, and this is good to keep in mind. but then again we should have some say as to whether it appears the team in on the way to thriving or languishing. Fans shouldn’t control the team, but shouldn’t be ignored either.
      Having kind of tuned out on the Bucks as the season both progressed and seemed to regress, I’m very interested in what other fans saw in our coaching. When Greg Popovich makes a decision about the Spurs, I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. How much confidence do fans have in Jason Kidd making decisions for the Bucks?

      • Swisch
        Next year is Kidd’s last year on contract. I say let next year be his year to prove if he should be extended or parted with. He’s had one good year (I’m considering 41-41 and a 6th seed good for this rebuilding team), and one bad. Next year if they look bad again maybe look at other coaches. But should they be a 6-8 seed again I think it will then all boil down to seeing how strong Jabari, Giannis, and Khris come back next year. They MUST be improved from where they are now in order for there to be faith in this coaching staff.

          • Are there any coaches out there available that you like (Thibs, David Blatt, Mark Jackson, maybe Jeff Van Gundy)? Or should any struggling or lower tier team’s coach become available that you would love to be the coach of this team?

          • Good question, Saul. I hope other more knowledgeable fans might have some ideas for coaching names.
            Seeing what Stan Van Gundy has done with the Pistons has me thinking about Jeff Van Gundy as a good possibility. My impression of Thibs is that he wears guys down physically and mentally and emotionally with too much discipline, but I could be wrong.
            I don’t know who the assistant coaches are for the Spurs, but I like the idea of getting assistant coaches who have been part of the kind of teams I would like the Bucks to be.
            Also, I don’t know who the next Brad Stevens might be out of college; he seems to be great for the Celtics without any big stars on the roster
            I’d be reluctant to pick recent players like Jason Kidd. Larry Brown might be too old. For our young team, I’m inclined to go with an older coach like Jeff Van Gundy.
            I’m quite interested to learn about the rising names in coaching from NBA assistants to college to D-League.

    • Make a run at Kevin Durant.

      Yes, I know that this will never happen. But it has brought be great joy to even think what it might be like to have Giannis, Middleton, Durant, Jabari, and whoever else on the floor together. He would bring outside shooting and a new level of experience and excellence to the team, and make the Bucks a length nightmare for everyone in the league–including Golden State. And he’s used to succeeding in a small market.

  3. The way the Bucks are constructed both financially and position level, begs for the Bucks to match the 2-4 (Middleton, Giannis, and Parker) with both offensive and defensive matches. The point guard contracts give the Bucks the opportunity to let Ennis and MCW grow with the team over the next 2-3 years. The plan to have Vasquez both mentor (MCW) and play the shooting PG the Bucks need this year has been a disappointment both to injury and the lack of finding that true PG througout the year. I still think the Bucks need a veteran PG who can shoot and that should be the focus in the offseason.

    People will probably say I’m crazy but this team is and can be built very similar to the Bulls with (Jordan, Pippen, H. Grant) and have either a young PG who can shoot a la BJ Armstrong or the old veteran who can run the offense, play D, and hit an open 3 a la Ron Harper. The big men are looked more to rebound and defend ala Bill Cartwright, Will Perdue, Luc Longley. So I can certainly see Monroe not fitting the mold defensively, but a very strong rebounder.

    One thing MKE does not have around as a supporting cast is knock down shooters do not fit the role of (Kerr, Hodges, Paxson, Kukoc) role. While Bayless, Mayo, Vaughn are all good shooters, I don’t think anyone is going to catapult them into the great shooter category.

    Plumlee, Henson, Monroe can make a formidable Center combination and bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the group, but the focus should not be on them in the equation.

    Essentially we are missing shooters, preferably a veteran shooting PG who can play D. One could even argue for a severe upgrade in the 6th man role that can play 2-4 as a shooter off the bench.

    Essentially I just compared the 6 time world champion Chicago Bulls roster to the current cellar dwelling Bucks of 2015-2016, but if look at having a solid core at the 2-4 position, defensive minded PG and C, surrounded by shooters off the bench and it makes sense.

    Unfortunately I see Greg Monroe moving on after this year, MCW not developing a jump shot for next year, and then you have to start asking yourself who do you want in the year of the new stadium? FA is highly unlikely to grab the big headline guy, but adding a couple veteran guys is certainly attainable. Also making a trade to bring in an explosive 2-4 to come off the bench isnt entirely off the table. Drafting a quality player in the lottery this upcoming year could be one of the future replacement pieces for a Monroe/MCW in a couple years.

    Expectations were high this year based off the previous record, but like every gangly 6’8 kid that is a teenage it takes a little while to develop and fit into his body. I think small tweeks are coming, blockbusters are fantasy, and building a team through the draft, trades, and small FA moves are slowly coming.

  4. We need Seth Curry!!! He has a player option which he should decline and we should sign him. He can shoot the ball.

  5. Next year?

    As good as gone: Mayo, MCW, Vasquez, Novak.

    Likely gone: Inglis, Henson, Monroe.

    Could be gone: Plumlee, Bayless.

    Needs: Wings that can shoot, have experience and play some defense. A center that is both athletic and can shoot a 15 foot J. Some solid, experienced journeymen that have been in the playoffs before.

    • I doubt they’ll sign Vasquez or Mayo, Novak either, but MCW is still on his rookie deal next season, so not sure how he leaves. Henson? Seriously? How could they move him? Monroe has value if they decide to move him, at least, Henson just signed a big extension, no one is taking that, I’d bet. I hope they re-sign Plumlee and Bayless, both fit the team and could come relatively cheap.

  6. I’d like to just give a shoutout thanks to Jeremy, Nick, Preston, and the rest of the Bucksketball crew for their work this season and providing us Bucks fans a place to come read, hear, and discuss the team. During the NBA season this has become my go to site when it comes to Bucks news and information. After games, I am always eager to see what grades/notes you guys have and what you noticed compared to what I did while watching. Thanks again. I am excited for next season. Go Bucks!