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Panic? At the 4-1-Forum: Brook Lopez and the Bench

Maybe this was a bad idea

Milwaukee Bucks v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Writer’s note: All stats are from and Cleaning the Glass

Sometimes as sports fans, we may fire off some takes that are a bit hot. Sometimes they are on the verge of overreacting or pandering for everyone to remain calm. In the end, most of the time those takes look silly and cooler heads prevail. But what about the hot takes that have some logic behind them? Sometimes an overreaction is focused on the emotion, but the core thought still has a kernel of truth. So let’s maybe revisit these reactions and see if there is any reason to Panic? At the 4-1-Forum. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but Panic? At the 4-1-Forum is hopefully a revived series that we will do to gauge where Bucks fans’ mindset. I will be looking more for a trend on what Bucks fans are feeling and will try not to slander it to the best of my ability. To achieve this, I will attempt to avoid takes that fall under the following categories:

  • Takes for the sake of trolling
  • Takes with no realistic path to a solution (Giannis needs a better whistle)
  • Takes that wish ill will or injury to others
  • Any Malcolm Brogdon, Christian Wood, and/or Bogdan Bogdanovic (effective the second you’re reading this) takes

Okay, now that I have laid out the foundations, let’s go and see our first entries.

Concern about Brook Lopez

I get the concern with Brook. His block numbers and overall rim protection haven’t been as good as it was last year at the moment. But the decline hasn’t been as large as you would think. Part of the issue is his increased foul rate from 3.2% to 4.6% from last season to the short sample of this year. Should this number decrease to his mark for the previous two seasons (it was 3.1% in the 18-19 season) that should improve the rim protection and points in the paint numbers.

With the arrival of Jrue Holiday and Donte’s introduction to the starting lineup, Brook has taken a backseat on Milwaukee’s offense. There was talk of having him work the post more often but we haven’t fully seen that early in the season. With Milwaukee’s higher volume of three-pointers attempted, it both works and hinders him in terms of the usage. Brook has increased his effective field goal percentage so far to 55.3% and his three-point percentage from the corner and elsewhere. While he is susceptible to an off shooting night like he displayed against the Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic, he is shooting better than some may think. Overall, I don’t think he is necessarily having as poor of a start as people will lead you to believe, or that he needs to be traded or even benched, he is still part of a five man lineup that is dominating opponents this season.

Panic Level: A snow storm is coming, but your snowblower is ready.

Bench Lineup Decisions Part 1: Offense > Defense

If there is a positive we have seen from Budenholzer, he has done a really good job of staggering his lineups and making sure at least two of Holiday, Middleton and Giannis are on the court most of the time. That, surprisingly, has allowed Milwaukee’s bench to be either boom or bust in terms of their scoring production. When the bench hits shots like in games against the Miami Heat or Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee looks like the team that can easily make the finals. However, the Bucks bench also has some issues defensively it needs to fix. The biggest culprit is when Brook Lopez leaves the game and Milwaukee has been more vulnerable against opposing centers, which isn’t surprising when you consider Bobby Portis is taking those center minutes.

Milwaukee’s bench was never going to have what most would consider above average defenders and the one player who would fall in that category is Torrey Craig who is currently injured. Just never put this lineup out ever again.

Panic Level: No defense, just vibes

Bench Lineup Decisions Part 2: Playing Time Allocation

Remember when I said Bud was doing a good job not playing all bench lineups, if you ignore the Cavs and Magic game, that still rings true. However Bud has seemed to rotate who will be the player brought in from the cold to get meaningful minutes. Bobby Portis and DJ Augustin are locked in to get playing time when healthy and Bryn Forbes has seen his minutes slowly increase as he develops chemistry with Giannis. The 9th player rotation started with Pat Connaughton, but with his injury, the baton has been handed to Thanasis Antetokounmpo. I am not impressed to say the least, only because we know Thanasis isn’t an NBA player. While he tries his best, you have to wonder if those minutes would be better for DJ Wilson, Jordan Nwora, Sam Merrill or Torrey Craig (when he is healthy). Now with Connaughton, maybe that means less Thanasis minutes...but it also could lead to more Connaughton minutes but to Pat’s credit, he has played well on offense since his return from injury. Either way, people will not be happy and it’s understandable why.

Panic Level: You are hangry or restless

This concludes the first Panic? At the 4-1-Forum, I think I’m going to check in on trends every 12 or so games and hopefully we have new trends that we can see if there is any concern. The season is moving fast and sometimes there will be things I miss, so let me know in the comments if there is anything that needs to be checked on for the next edition!