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To Three or Not to Three

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That is a question.

The answer has been "not to three" of late.

Think back to some of the impressive wins this season: The Bucks made 11 threes for the first win of the year against the Bobcats, made 8-15 from deep in the win in Atlanta, hit a crazy 9-13 from outside to beat Dallas in their place, and sank 8-14 threes in the win in L.A. over the Lakers.

But since that win against the Lakers almost a month ago, they haven't made more than six from outside in a game. That represents a streak of 10 straight games without making more than six three-pointers in a game.

Last season, the Bucks never went more than three straight games without making at least six from outside, as the game log shows.

And that makes some sense, when you consider that the team's top two three-point threats, Brandon Jennings and Carlos Delfino, have been hurt and out for the duration of this ominous streak, during which the Bucks have gone 3-7 (beating two of the three worst teams in the NBA in the Kings/Nets as well as the very-injured Mavericks).

Delfino, who is running, traveling with the team, and generally getting better, still leads the NBA in threes attempted per game this season with 6.4. Delfino made 2.4 per game before going down, and Jennings made 1.9 per game.

Now, the shooting guards are actually shooting threes with delightful accuracy -- John Salmons is making 41.5 % and Chris Douglas-Robert is making 43.3 %. Salmons is a career 37.1 % shooter from outside, so while it's unlikely that he will keep up this pace, he is respectable from outside historically. And Douglas-Roberts is young enough in the pros that we can reasonably dismiss his 17-66 (.257) mark from outside over his first two years in Jersey. He is taking and making more now, and he did hit 41.3 % as a senior at Memphis, so there is some precedent for a competent outside stroke.

The idea over the offseason was to make the team more multi-faceted offensively. The Bucks relied on the longball almost exclusively last year -- they were fifth overall in both threes made and attempted -- with mixed  (generously put) results. But now, even as Milwaukee continues to come through on some of the offseason ideals by drawing the third most fouls in the NBA and boasting eight players averaging 9.0+ points per game, they are still the second worst offensive team in the NBA, easily worse than last year's 23rd-ranked outfit.

The Bucks are 24th making just 5.4 threes per game this season. And they are 21st in accuracy, making 34.4 %. They have turned a strength into a weakness, and it's one major reason why their offense has turned into a weakness of historical magnitude. They still can't finish at the rim, and now they aren't finishing from outside either. Nothing much inside, nothing much outside.

But with Salmons and Douglas-Roberts firing in threes at nice rates, the Bucks could vey well get back into the three-point game when Delfino and Jennings return. After all, Keyon Dooling (30.3 % on 2.7 attempts per game) is one of the worst in this regard, and his minutes will obviously go way down upon Jennings' return.

Of course, the real wild card is the apparently-misnomered Turk Nowitzki, who is making 27.5 % from three but is still hoisting 2.2 per game on the season. This, by a player whom the coaching staff expected to shoot in the mid-30s, by a player who made 36.5 % from outside (on 148 attempts) as a 19 year-old NBA rookie.