The under-.500 Milwaukee Bucks are dead. Long live the under-.500 Milwaukee Bucks.
From sitting comfortably ensconced in one of the play-in slots a few weeks ago, the Bucks have seen gradually improving health and an easier schedule coincide to help right the ship. From October 19th to November 17th, the sat in the bottom third of the league in net rating at -1.3 with their offensive rating having slumped from last year’s 117.2 to 107.1. Since the 17th, both their offensive and defensive numbers have been moving in their better respective directions as the ORTG has improved to 109.4 (14th in the league) and the DRTG dropped to 106.5 (11th in the league) resulting in a +2.9 net, good enough for 9th in the NBA.
We’re already aware of the impact Giannis has had on the winning, and his career-high 34.8% AST% has gone a long way to keeping the offense afloat while his co-stars have been away without everything collapsing into a traditional one-man-band attack. More remarkable is how well the Other Guys have played to round things out, whether it be Pat Connaughton off the bench or Bobby Portis/Grayson Allen in the starting lineup. Portis is scoring at career-best levels with only slightly diminished efficiency of a year ago, Allen’s 3P% and 3PAr remain stellar, and Pat has retained his do-everything role off the bench to help soak up the non-starter minutes. There’s a lot of season to go, but if this first section of the year is any guide, that’s three extremely solid contributors the Bucks can fall back on outside of the core four (assuming Brook Lopez is back in good health at some point).
And the best part is the relatively easy schedule keeps on coming. Between now and January 8th when we play the Brooklyn Nets, we will face the following teams: Indiana, Charlotte, Toronto, Miami, Cleveland, Houston, the Knicks, Boston, New Orleans, Dallas, Orlando, Detroit. That’s eight sub-.500 teams, most of whom have no designs on the post-season, and we play a number of those teams more than once in that span.
By the time 2022 rolls around the Bucks will hopefully have padded their win column in a big way. If they can get just a tiny bit more healthy in the meantime, watch out, because they might officially be back.
Before these past two weeks it was somewhat confounding seeing both the Bucks and Lakers, teams picked to make decent runs at their respective conferences’ thrones stuck in the mud. Then the Bucks beat up on the Lakers to start a six-game winning streak while the Lakers... remain wishy-washy at best with bottom-third rankings in offensive, defensive, and net ratings. We thank the Lakers for being our first step to brighter times.
I’m grateful that the “Giannis discovers food item as an adult” genre is getting another round with Giannis’s recent discovery about dunking Oreos in milk. Don’t you kind of wish you could go back to the time you first experienced this delightful combo? At least we can relive it vicariously through our 26 year-old Greek friend.
Michael Jordan, Giannis Antetokounmpo lift luxury watch start-up WatchBox to valuation nearing $1 billion (CNBC)
You want to know when its been an especially slow week for the MMMR? Watch to see how quickly I have to shoehorn in some random CNBC article about watch selling startups because Giannis is tangentially related to it. Go check out the eBay of luxury watches now to see what’s got our superstar so intrigued. Patek Philippes are the new gold.
Bucks Player’s Brady St. Building A Neat Fit (Urban Milwaukee)
We’re rapidly reaching the point at which we can only hope a combination of under-the-table contract deals and a long list of area real estate investments keeps Pat Connaughton in Milwaukee. What a bizarre timeline.
Fan Post of the Week
I was extremely proud, and I must admit a little surprised, when I found out that stoneAge had joined the Brew Hoop staff. Surely that’s the most logical explanation for the “NON-Rapid Recap - Denver NONggets vs Milwaukee Bucks” post over the weekend. Yep, that’s the reason, and not because we were caught asleep at the wheel/unable to conscript someone to throw up a RR. Welcome aboard, stoneAge.
And if you want some more non-game analysis, we’ve got a first-time winner with Green and Bold’s “Quarter Season Trade Proposals, etc” piece doing a bit of assessing where we look strong/weak/etc. There is surely an argument to make that the likes of Donte DiVincenzo and Jordan Nwora can be plus-assets in a pure trade, but their small contracts do make finding the right dollar swap a pain in the neck.
Know Your Enemy
- Charlotte Hornets - At The Hive - This lineup is leading the charge on defense for the Charlotte Hornets
Two things of note about the Hornets: First, their very particular color scheme is really coming into its own with some of their latest jersey designs. Second, it’s remarkable to see a team stick by a head coach through the course of a rebuild, and now that the roster is beginning to add on more talent it looks like James Borrego is repaying that trust in kind.
Raptors fans have to have experienced one of the harshest cases of whiplash in recent league history, but at least they tasted glory. Now it’s back to the grind of gathering assets and hoping some of their young guys break through to build another core around.
- Miami Heat - Hot Hot Hoops - The Heat have had trouble closing games. It’s concerning, not alarming.
The Heat have had a nice start to the year, though they’ve had some Bucks-esque trouble blowing leads to teams. Their trouble led me to look up how the Bucks have performed in the fourth quarter, which showed me that the Bucks have a bottom-four offensive rating in fourth quarters this year. A top-four rating in first halves suggests they play well enough to start game that they can survive opponents chipping away at leads.
The Social Media Section
The tweet that began it all
Correct both on and off the court
The Georgios pick
What 2021 sports moment are you most thankful for?— SB Nation (@SBNation) November 24, 2021
This dude sells literally every product known to man. Respect the hustle.
Going back to his 2 minute role at the end of the second quarter means a happy Thanasis
retired janitor’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 13-8
Riley’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 11-10
Two perfect weeks in a row? In this economy? Astounding.
They’ll get something of a break this coming week too, with only three games needing playing. It starts at home on Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets, takes it across international borders to Toronto on Thursday, and then back home to face the Heat on Saturday. I think everything will continue to move in the right direction and we’ll be back here next Monday talking about the Bucks on a 10 game winning streak.