Let’s do a little exercise, shall we?
The Bucks are 35-6. They are on pace to win 70 games in what would be one of the greatest seasons in franchise history, if not the history of the NBA. Every regular season game is more often than not a question about how much the Bucks will win by, not if they will.
So, since the next four months are effectively meaningless we can think ahead to the playoffs and, for this experiment, Milwaukee’s crunch-time rotation. First, here are the eight men Mike Budenholzer trotted out in game six of last year’s ECF loss to the Raptors:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo - 40:32
- Khris Middleton - 40:36
- Brook Lopez - 34:01
- Malcolm Brogdon - 31:26
- Eric Bledsoe - 30:13
- George Hill - 32:00
- Ersan Ilyasova - 21:31
- Pat Connaughton - 9:41
That’s it, those are the players. Now, think about a situation where the Bucks are in yet another do-or-die playoff situation. Who would you give minutes to? Yes, situation is everything and you’d have to take into account the path taken to get to the dire abyss, but still. You no longer have Malcolm, George Hill can probably still be relied upon, Wes Matthews would soak up some minutes, and then...?
My point is that even in a regular season full of massacres there is still a question about who can truly be relied upon when staring the season’s death in the face. Not to mention the guy with the clipboard who has to choose who will get those precious few minutes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is Creating More Than Ever (FiveThirtyEight)
A very interesting breakdown of just how much pure generation Giannis is providing Milwaukee’s offense through his own scoring and points converted off assists. According to FiveThirtyEight, Giannis has been directly responsible for 57.8% of Milwaukee’s points; that’s the 16th-best mark in the league since 2013 and fifth best this season.
Even more impressive? He does it with the ball in his hands far less than his star peers do. Everything he touches turns to gold, essentially.
This piece only came about because the Bucks happened to be playing on ESPN last week, but it still brings a pretty even-keeled analysis of what Milwaukee excels at. Defense, Giannis, and a bit of experience go a long way to making a team pretty good.
I thought this was a really well-written perspective on the mystique of Giannis from an outsider’s perspective. It’s long been preached by Bucks fans that we have no clue just how much further Giannis can go in his progression; to most of us it seems like the sky continues to be the limit. Zito Madu captured that sense perfectly, though:
In Giannis’ failures, then, is excitement for the future. His bad games aren’t indictments of his ability, because his limits aren’t known yet. Those games, instead, are necessary setbacks to alert him to what he must become going forward.
Keep adapting, keep learning, and at some point the rhetoric of being unstoppable will become reality.
The Many Makes Of George Hill (Bucks.com)
If you’d asked me which player from a year ago was most likely to suffer a real regression in output, I’d have probably pegged George Hill. Yes, he was beyond crucial in helping the Bucks make it to the ECF at all, but at age 33 and fresh off an average regular season I wasn’t sure what he’d have in the tank for 2019-20.
Turns out, a whole lot. A whole lot of threes. A whole lot of assists. A whole lot of two-pointers. A whole lot of calming presence. One could even argue he’s been the team’s second MVP behind Giannis if they were of a mind...
The Most and Least Consistent Stars in the NBA (The Ringer)
Thought this was an interesting experiment on the part of Zach Kram at the Ringer, especially since it includes our very own Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton!
By breaking down each NBA player by game score deviations between their best games and worst games, we get an idea of how consistently helpful guys are even when they’re struggling. Giannis leads the league in consistency — no surprise there — and he needs to with Khris retaining a production rate between “good” and “bad games” that’s in the lower third of all All-Stars of the past three seasons.
Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Warriors? It’s not as crazy as you might think (San Francisco Chronicle) & Ex-NBA player says if Giannis Antetokounmpo leaves Milwaukee, he should form Big 3 with Mavs’ Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Morning News)
A double-whammy of ick here with new contenders the Dallas Mavericks jumping into the race. Or are they? Because it’s actually former Boston Celtic Brian Scalabrine who is advocating for the move to Dallas. To his credit, he does state that he doesn’t think Giannis will leave Milwaukee, but still, add another hapless vulture to the list.
Oh, and more Warriors stuff. They’re the absolute worst.
Know Your Enemy
Knicks - Posting & Toasting - The Knicks called Detroit about a potential trade for Andre Drummond
- The tough thing about being a team that’s stuck deep in the cellar is figuring out a viable exit strategy. Some teams decide to smash the team into the ground and let the draft chips fuel them onward. Others keep a clean cap sheet to will a star to an inviting situation. The Knicks? They’re going after Andre Drummond with a max deal and no regrets.
Celtics - Celtics Blog - Celtics have to stop the rot and sooner rather than later
- Thought this was a fascinating narrative if only because, from the outside looking in, the Celtics look like they’re having an above-average season. Well, perhaps they were having that kind of year, but as of late it’s looked rockier than ever. Something about energy and effort, so I’m told.
- No matter what the Nets are able to do this season the only thing that really matters is the fact that Kevin Durant isn’t available until next year... maybe? That’s right, apparently there’s a chance that maybe KD will think about potentially coming back in the future at some point if things are right and if he’s feeling like it. Get ready for Nets fans to hope to survive the first round of the playoffs to force a surprise return by their prized free agent.
Fanpost/Reader Content of the Week
Khris is having a great year and a lot of it can be chalked up to his answering the call of a bigger workload with a little more offensive creativity to boot.
The Social Media Section
Very much worth your viewing (plus, check some photos!)
Profiles of professional basketball coaches that make you go “Hmmmmmmm”
It’s clear that Nick Nurse always has his mind on the playoffs. Love this piece about the creative ways he experiments to upgrade his team’s toolbox for dealing with big moments and star-powered teams.— Indie Fatigable (@StevevonHorn) January 11, 2020
In short, he’s a truly great coach.
As I’m adding this there is 9:28 left in the fourth quarter of the Packers game. Hope it ages well...
Also, uh... huh?
What a lame gift to give another grown man
Dragan Bender... welcome to La Familia
5 p.m. has passed. The Milwaukee Bucks have not waived Dragan Bender, which means his contract for this season is now fully guaranteed.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) January 7, 2020
Bender has been on a bit of a tear lately with the Herd, taking home G-League Player of the Week last week.
Giannis says “what sore back?”
MMMR 2019-2020 Prediction Record: 26-15
retired janitor’s 2019-2020 Prediction Record: 35-6
The occasional late start time is fine. Issues start arising once you ask us to stay up until 11:15-11:30 PM four times in one week. For that reason and that reason alone we all rejoice that Milwaukee’s short trip to the Pacific coast is finished.
And it’ll be the New York Knicks — who it feels like the Bucks have already played 20 times this season — rolling out the welcome mat at the Forum tomorrow night. They’re followed by the Boston Celtics on Thursday and then a jaunt to NYC to play the Brooklyn Nets.
That’s one bad opponent, one mediocre opponent, and one inconsistent opponent (who, to be fair, already beat the Bucks once this year). A few days rest back home should be enough to see Milwaukee through to another perfect week.