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Panic? At the 4-1-Forum

Which trends are legitimately worrying, and which have fans overreacting?

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks are 20-9 this season, with one of the best net ratings and point differentials in the league. Things haven’t always been smooth sailing, as the Bucks have dropped some games, some you would believe they’d win. Every so often, simply just have a poor game, but there are times when the one-off outlier becomes a worrying trend.

We investigate which of these trends should cause Bucks fans to Panic! (at the 4-1-Forum) and which are no big deal.

Wing Rotation

When the Bucks drafted Donte DiVincenzo and signed Pat Connaughton this past summer, we were expecting depth on the wings with Tony Snell and Sterling Brown also fighting for minutes. Snell was looked at as the incumbent, while Sterling Brown looked to be a beneficiary of Hawks University coming to Milwaukee. The season started and, while Snell still had some role in the rotation, it was the combination of Donte and Pat that got the majority of the minutes. An injury to DiVincenzo took him out of the mix for a while, but in came Sterling Brown, who has been a preferred player the past few weeks, with good shooting benefiting him. We don’t know how long that will last and if Budenholzer will switch things up again but it seems that no matter who the choice is, they will deliver.

PANIC LEVEL: As cool as a Lakefront Riverwest Stein.

Outlier Shooting Performances

In today’s modern NBA, the two type of shots you want to aim for are 3-pointers and layups/dunks. Good defenses try to stop one of those shots, while great defenses successfully contain both. So far, Milwaukee has been able to limit shots at the rim and encourage teams to settle for the midrange. That has worked out well, and it sometimes results with players shooting who probably shouldn’t. But as the old saying goes, a broken clock is right twice a day. Sometimes players will catch fire, like when Kemba Walker or CJ McCollum score in bunches, and that makes sense given their pedigree as shooters. But here are some less renowned players that have had successful shooting nights against Milwaukee:

  • Patrick Beverley: 5/8 from three
  • Paul Millsap: 5/8 from three
  • Marc Gasol: 6/12 from three
  • Justin Holiday: 6/6 from three in the first half
  • The Phoenix Suns hitting every midrange shot
  • Noah Vonleh, Damyean Dotson, and Emmanuel Mudiay: 3/3, 5/5, and 4/5
  • Stanley Johnson 4/5 from three

So yes, that list is mainly players who have not been known to be sharpshooters, with Gasol being the exception. The Bucks played down to the Suns’ level, but Milwaukee letting also-rans have their Matt Flynn games have to be contained more also.

PANIC LEVEL: Your Uber is en route to pick you up and you’re only halfway through your drink.

Christian Wood

Christian Wood was the bright shining light for Milwaukee’s otherwise uneventful Summer League. Wood was named to the First Team, which was impressive since he was the only non-first rounder to do it. The Bucks signed him to a contract and his play in the preseason gave him the roster spot he deserved. The Woodlands has been waiting for his time to come and it hasn’t happened yet (besides the occasional victory cigar moment). The hope was after an injury to Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson, he would have the opportunity to truly make his case for regular minutes. That hasn’t happened, as Thon Maker was the choice Bud has gone with, and he has been a mixed bag with his performances; while D.J. Wilson has been getting run and being somewhat passable in spot minutes?!?! To keep his reps going, Wood has had multiple stints with the Wisconsin Herd. Wood has proven he is too good for the G-League, logging multiple 30-point games and double-doubles. Wood may be getting a tad frustrated as he posted (then deleted) this photo on his Instagram story.

Like Sterling Brown, it’s possible Bud is waiting till he feels Wood is ready. But we are not sure what his role is when this team is at full strength.

PANIC LEVEL: Your phone has 20% battery left and you just switched to Low Power Mode.

Khris Middleton’s Slump

We have been down this road before with Middleton. He has a month during the season where he seemingly can’t hit a shot at all. The last few years, this has happened in October/November but this year it’s happening right now. His December has been bad, as he is shooting under 30%, got benched in New York, missed a game due to a personal absence, and now also has a sprained pinky finger.

Middleton himself is aware of the slumps and he’s confident he will snap out of it. Thankfully, his defense has been better since that Knicks benching and he confidently knocked down a couple smooth triples against Detroit.

PANIC LEVEL: You can’t find your car keys...but you have nowhere to be.