The Bucks and Bulls' preseason opener in Chicago was...well, a preseason opener.
With Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy missing for the Bulls and Jabari Parker absent for the Bucks, both teams struggled to find any sort of offensive fluency before Chicago's reserves eventually pulled away in the second half of a 105-95 win. Doug McDermott shook off an 0/5 start to finish with 23 points mostly against the Bucks' scrubs, while rookie Rashad Vaughn did his best to keep up with an encouraging 20-point effort of his own.
So what did we learn?
Vaughn's Stroke. With Khris Middleton and O.J. Mayo expected to soak up the majority of the minutes at shooting guard, the Bucks' 19-year-old rookie isn't expected to make much of an impact this year. But he settled in quite nicely in his NBA debut tonight, shaking off some early jitters to finish with an impressive 20 points on 8/14 shooting and 3/6 from deep.
Like Mayo, Vaughn can get a makeable shot whenever he wants -- runners and pull-ups in particular. They're not always good shots, but when they're going in he's very difficult to stop. Maybe he could be a real contributor this season after all? And maybe he'll let the rest of his teammates in on the secret that there's a three-point line?
Damien Inglis' feet. After spending most of last season in a walking boot, Inglis was disappointingly hobbled in his Vegas debut in July, gutting through a couple uncomfortable looking games before heading back to Milwaukee early. Thankfully he looked like a different guy on Tuesday, doing a little bit of everything (outside of hitting a three) on his way to 11 points (3/8 fg, 5/7 ft), nine rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes. Though he's not a fluid athlete per se, he moves his feet well and has a degree of savvy well beyond his years. Speaking of which, can we talk about the fact that Inglis is still only 20 and hadn't played a competitive game of basketball in the last 18 months?
Damien Inglis go get it! https://t.co/qNbFoJF18R— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) October 7, 2015
Big enough. With Parker out, Jason Kidd opted to go small rather than big, starting Vaughn at the two and moving Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo up a spot next to Greg Monroe on the front line. That made particular sense against a Bulls frontline featuring Nikola Mirotic at the four, though we'll have to see if it continues. While Kidd almost never played two centers together last season, there's been a fair amount of angst about the possibility of Kidd using a space-clogging John Henson-Monroe combination this year, particularly while Parker is working his way back to full strength. But we didn't see it on Tuesday, as Henson backed up Monroe at center before Miles Plumlee came in for most of the second half.
New threads. We've had almost four months to imagine what the Bucks' new jerseys would look like in game action, but there's still nothing quite as nice as seeing the real deal. I'm less convinced of the new black alternates, but the home and roads look rather terrific.
Good health. After one game, the Bucks have yet to sustain a real injury since camp started one week ago. Did I just jinx it?
Milwaukee Bricks. Do the Bucks know that you can get more than two points on a jump shot? We spent a fair bit of time bemoaning the Bucks' disinterest in shooting threes this summer, and nothing we saw on Tuesday suggested they've changed their tune. We saw repeated screens run for guys to take off-balance long twos, Giannis hoisted up three more from midrange, and overall the Bucks made just 3/11 from deep compared to 13/39 for the Bulls. Guys not named Vaughn were a combined 0/5 from deep for the Bucks, and Khris Middleton -- he of the 40% three point shooting the last two seasons -- didn't take a single three in 17 first half minutes
To be clear, the Bulls did not shoot well at all tonight -- 33% from both the field and three -- but they won in large part thanks to their shot mix skewing more heavily towards threes. Let's hope we're not repeating that too often this season.
The second half. Vaughn was the only starter to return after halftime, and the level of play generally reflected it. Miles Plumlee was throwing up skyhooks (they didn't end well), and the triumvirate of Josh Powell, Jon Horford and Charlie Westbrook saw extensive action. Don't expect that to continue too much longer.
Giannis Antetokounmpo. I like the idea of Giannis getting extended run at the 4, but tonight wasn't necessarily the archetype for how to make the most of his mismatch-ability there. Defensively he was all over the place in a good way, but offensively he seemed overeager to huck jumpers early on -- hitting one of three -- and turned it over three times before getting to the rack a couple times late in the first. It's the preseason so he should be trying some stuff out, but the "settling for jumpers" issue will be one of the interesting points to remember going forward. Kidd rested him for the entirety of the second half, but not before he did this:
Giannis just driving and WHOA WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT https://t.co/yZgv6pgtvz— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) October 7, 2015
Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams stroked a midrange jumper early on and added a second quarter tip-in along with two assists and one turnover in 15 minutes. Otherwise...I'm not sure there's much to report, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing.
Greg Monroe. Monroe had his moments offensively in the first half (see below), but also got caught under the rim a few times defensively. Needless to say, that's not where a non-leaping, non-shot-blocking center wants to be.
Greg Monroe has all the spin moves, yo. https://t.co/x9CAQE44Z1— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) October 7, 2015