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What's Wrong with the Bucks Defense?

The Milwaukee Bucks entered the season hoping to build on their defensive success from the previous season, but so far they've struggled to even look average on that end of the floor. What gives?

James Brosher-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody expected perfection from the Bucks defense so early in the season. The loss of Jared Dudley and Zaza Pachulia lowered expectations in the first several months for a team still boasting a defensive identity, but a league-worst effort through the first 15% of the regular season? That wasn't part of the plan.

Uncontained penetration, wide open threes and early fouls have plagued the Bucks defense in early play. Are these issues a matter of personnel -- swapping out Pachulia for Greg Monroe and Dudley for Jabari Parker -- or is there something deeper at work? For a scheme designed to create chaos and discord on the perimeter, opposing teams have looked remarkably comfortable working to get good shots in the paint and along the arc. In the latest podcast episode, Frank and I attempt to the diagnose defensive issues and get at the core questions facing Milwaukee going forward (note that this was recorded before Monday's game against the Pistons).

If the league has adjusted to the Bucks' aggressive scheme by emphasizing early ball movement, skip passes and weak-side hammer actions, the coaching staff needs to come up with a counter-punch soon. Perhaps that started with Monday night's convincing win over the Pistons, though they have a long way to go to climb out of their current struggles. We spend some time comparing and contrasting the Thibodeau-style defense to this strategy. The "success story" is easy to articulate for the Thibs-style conservative defensive system, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to get a grasp on what Milwaukee's defense is willing to give up in exchange for operating so aggressively. Take a listen to the episode below and let us know what you think.

Download this episode (right click and save)