The Milwaukee Bucks' preseason is over and the Milwaukee Bucks' regular season is just three days away, which I suppose renders any analysis of their final preseason stats something of a fool's errand. After all, we'll have forgotten them completely by Wednesday night, right?
Still, there's a reason the preseason exists, and there's a reason we watch it. Even if the games don't count, it's always better to be good than bad, and the good and bad of the preseason often portend the same come November and December. So while we have a few days to kill, let's ponder the past few weeks and what it might mean for the months to come. You can check out the entire roster's raw averages, per 36 numbers and advanced metrics at RealGM; given the funkiness of preseason minute distributions, I'll focus on the per 36 and advanced numbers below.
John Henson. Henson signed a new four-year, $45 million extension at the start of camp, and his brief performances since then suggest he's intent on earning it. While he played fairly sparingly (14.3 mpg), Henson was the Bucks' most effective player by far in preseason play, averaging 22.7 points, 15.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes while compiling a team-high 34.6 PER (yowza) and 71% true shooting mark. He won't come close to matching those in the regular season, but anything remotely close would be a huge plus; who wouldn't want a Mavericks-era Tyson Chandler (or even Brandan Wright) to bring off the bench? And while I'm skeptical of big lineups featuring both Henson and Greg Monroe, no one would be displeased if Henson gave Jason Kidd a reason to find him more minutes.
Giannis comes around. After a forgettable first two games, Giannis Antetokounmpo thankfully began to look a bit more like a potential two-way star over the past week. Buoyed by a strong finish including a 23-point effort in Minnesota, the Greek Freak posted preseason per 36 averages of 16.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks to go with 56.2% true shooting and a PER of 18.2 -- not exactly superstar numbers, but clear improvements on his 14/15 figures (14.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per 36, 55.2% true shooting and 14.8 PER). Also of note is how Giannis did his scoring: while he was probably too willing to huck up contested mid-range jumpers, he also hit 3/6 from deep while still boosting his free throw rate from a year ago. He still has a ways to go as a roll man and initiator from the elbow, but there's no reason to think he can't improve markedly in both areas. If it happens? Look out.
Khris Middleton inside the arc. Middleton's highlight reel slam on Jimmy Butler in the preseason opener proved a fitting way for the Bucks' $70 million to start his preseason. Though the normally lights-out Middleton has yet to find his touch from deep (just 4/15), he's been unstoppable inside the arc, hitting 66% of his two point attempts en route to a sizzling 63% true shooting mark and 18.3 points per 36.
Mayo's playmaking. O.J. Mayo's still finding his legs as a scorer (41% overall and 31% from deep), but he compensated by averaging a team-high 7.3 assists per 36 minutes.
Healthy Damien Inglis. An illness shelved the 20-year-old for the Bucks' final three games, but that shouldn't obscure the fact that he was among the Bucks' best players in the first week of the preseason. Looking demonstrably more mobile than the last time we saw him in Vegas, Inglis scored effectively (15.3 pts/36 on 55% true shooting) and looked capable of defending either forward spot in his 55 minutes of action. Whether he can crack the Bucks' regular season rotation remains a matter of debate -- staying healthy is a rather important prerequisite -- though Parker's absence should give him an early chance.
Vaughn's first three games. Along with Inglis, first round pick Rashad Vaughn was the star of the Bucks' first three games, averaging nearly 17 points per contest on 51% shooting from the field and nearly 44% from deep. Despite turning 19 just a couple months ago, Vaughn flashed the sort of cool confidence you'd only expect to see in a veteran, moving well without the ball and hitting shots from all over the court. Now if only he had managed to keep it up...
Vaughn's last three games. Alas, the rookie has looked rather mortal in his last three games, hitting just 3/16 overall and 1/11 from deep to drag his overall shooting splits to 42.1% overall, 29.6% from deep and 48.9% in true shooting terms. And therein lies a major problem: Vaughn doesn't really do anything other than shoot at this stage, so if he's not scoring he can't really help you in other facets of the game. In 139 preseason minutes, Vaughn managed just nine rebounds, six assists, zero blocks and zero steals, which goes a long way to explaining his ugly 8.2 PER (only JOB was worse among guys on guaranteed deals).
The magic number. Overall I'd be surprised if the Bucks don't increase their number of attempts from deep this season: Greivis Vasquez and Chris Copeland won't be bashful, and Giannis and Jabari are both likely to extend their range after Kidd had them focus on attacking the paint a year ago. Still, the arc remained a point of weakness for the Bucks in the preseason, as they hit just 32% of their nearly 21 attempts per game compared to 33% and 29 attempts for their opponents. To be clear, the Bucks would be thrilled to allow only 33% come the regular season (they allowed 34.2% last season), though it's likely both the Bucks and their opponents will be more accurate once they've worked into regular season form. So keep an eye on these numbers once the games begin to count; the Bucks are unlikely to be an above-average offense given their inability to spread the floor, but closing the gap would certainly help.
The ongoing education of MCW. Michael Carter-Williams saved his best for the Bucks' encouraging blowout win in Madison, though his numbers overall were a decidedly mixed bag. On the plus side, he stuffed the box score with averages of 6.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.9 blocks per 36 while markedly cutting down on his usage (21% in preseason vs. 26% last year). On the downside, his didn't provide any strong hints of a refined perimeter game (2/7 from three) and turned it over at an absurd rate (4.5 per 36). I'm still hopeful that a lower-usage, more well-rounded MCW can find his niche in Milwaukee, though we'll need much more than a handful of preseason games to know for sure.
Monroe's transition. A 2/12 shooting night to close the preseason hurt Greg Monroe's aggregate numbers, but overall the Bucks' new starting center is about where you'd expect him to be given the circumstances. Aside from his relatively low shooting efficiency (51.7% true shooting), Monroe's per-minute (19.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists per 36) and PER (23.7) numbers were all quite strong and a shade above the figures he posted last year in Detroit. His passing and scoring should give the Bucks' offense a new dimension this season, while his defensive rotations will continue to need work. In short, I'm not sure we learned anything we didn't already assume coming into the preseason. Let the games begin?