If you blinked you may have just missed it, but the Milwaukee Bucks held their annual open-scrimmage inviting fans to join them at the Fiserv Forum for a four quarter slugfest between the “Green” and “Cream” squads.
The final score is irrelevant (both teams reset to zero after every quarter), you'd be hard-pressed to evaluate the defense (because there virtually was none), and Giannis didn't play. With all that in mind, here are a few of my quick-hitters from the scrimmage:
- Everybody will be taking no-thought threes this year. It'd be one thing if guys like Thon Maker and Brook Lopez were shooting from distance given their track record, but when offensive ball movement routinely ended in a John Henson corner three it signals a fundamental shift in play. We're without a box-score, but I'd be shocked if you told me someone who played didn't get a chance to take at least one three.
- There are a glut of options at the five. Christian Wood played like a man fighting for a real chance at a NBA roster, Thon Maker seems to have finally put on a bit of muscle without losing his jumper, Brook Lopez is a mountain of a man with plenty of experience jacking threes, John Henson is John Henson but now with (maybe) a jumper, and Tyler Zeller is the do-everything traditional archetype. In an era where basketball gets ever smaller the Bucks have quite a conundrum deciding which big men to keep and which to let go.
- All that off-season hype for Khris Middleton may actually pay off, especially if he's consciously choosing to increase the range of his shot taking. Yes, he still went to a series of mid-range moves for tough jumpshots, but it wasn't his main course. It is one thing to have an offense centered around Giannis with four shooters providing space; it is another to have players with undeniable gravity of their own opening things up and making plays themselves.
- Seems like coach Mike Budenholzer sees a small role for Donte DiVincenzo as a combo guard of sorts. Donte’s passing didn't blow me away, but it wasn't a tragedy either. He also took a number of shots from all over the floor, but had difficulty reliably converting. I'm not sure if he'll crack the rotation to start the year, so make of that what you will.
- Christian Wood followed up a superb Summer League showing with another strong outing this afternoon. He flashed that bit of offensive moxie with the ball in his hands, was aggressive going for rebounds (often drawing fouls from other bigs), and even showed some positional versatility running the four in two-big lineups. The team may still choose to go with Zeller, but Wood remains a very intriguing choice as a young guy finally ready to piece things together.
- Goodness, that ball movement. Clearly getting the offense moving quickly from side to side was another emphasis, and there was plenty of drive-and-kick sets initiated by guards all afternoon. Some passes were crisp in traffic resulting in open looks or easy dunks, and others were easily picked off. The ball may still get stuck from time to time if it ends up in Giannis or Khris’s hands, but all that talk of immediate decision-making looked legitimate today.
- I had to watch the broadcast on Twitter, and my God could they have done a worse job with the production of the stream? The shots are from the arena feed and so are filled with plenty of poorly executed animations leading to unnecessarily slow replays thus denying you of watching probably a solid 23% of game action. When live play was shown you'd often see it from a camera directly under the basket zoomed in to capture all of Tim Frazier's face. Do better, Bucks.
- No Giannis Antetokounmpo or Sterling Brown at all this afternoon. Doesn't seem like either are injured in a serious way, but were kept out for preventative purposes. Oh, and DJ Wilson hobbled off in the second quarter with some sort of pain in his leg - didn't look major but something worth keeping an eye out for.
- For whatever reason the team held a discombobulated fans v. NBA players half-court shot contest. It was as close to a travesty as you can get without having to involve the authorities, so let's avoid that in the future.
What did you make of the scrimmage? Anything you loved? Anything you hated?