What makes a closer? Is it simply a guy who scores baskets at a reliable clip in the closing minute or two of a game? Or is a more expansive view necessary?
I ask because in the aftermath of the shot-that-wasn’t against the Suns, there was a lot of handwringing (on Twitter, at least) about Giannis failing to be “that guy” when it matters most. He should’ve passed it to Khris, they messed up the execution, etc. Because of misses like that or the fact that the offense runs through Khris for final shots, pundits label Giannis as a net negative presence in closing minutes, ergo he is not a closer.
Yet if we take in the whole of the fourth quarter, we would note that Giannis currently leads the league in points scored (per game) in that quarter. Sure, that type of counting stat has extremely limited use, but in the 12 minutes that often matter most, he’s been extremely productive. So can he still be considered a closer if you widen the time horizon from 1 minute to 12? I tend to think so, and I also tend to think those watching can lose the forest for the “closer” tree we’ve come to rate as the end-all, be-all skill in the game of basketball.
Giannis isn’t going to be a consistent catch-and-shoot dagger maker. The thing is, he doesn’t need to be.
Devin Booker thought ‘we’re in good shape’ as Giannis Antetokounmpo shot potential game-winner (NBC Sports)
No, a Giannis jumper isn't the “ideal shot type” for Milwaukee to close a game, but as far as one-off situations in the regular season go I put almost zero stock in his inability to put the dagger into the Suns.
This bleeds back into that general discussion about what makes a player “clutch” and also whether being “clutch” really matters when evaluating the value of a player. Is Giannis a liability when he has to make a single jumper with a few seconds left in the game? Yes. Can he offset that negative value by 1) Scoring 15+ points during the rest of the fourth quarter and 2) Deferring to other players better suited for that shot type (i.e. Middleton and Holiday)? Also yes.
Behind former NBA All-Star Marques Johnson’s birthday dunk at age 65 (The Undefeated)
Marques stands as an example of trying to take control of your life and turning things around over the long-haul to healthier results. He’s out here calling games as undeniably one of the best color commentators in the entire league and dunking at retirement age:
Still dunking at 65 years old pic.twitter.com/6jwjTSigDV— Elder Marques Johnson (@olskool888) February 8, 2021
The NBA Is Literally Becoming a Make-or-Miss League (The Ringer)
If you wanted to boil the season down to one stat, and one stat alone, boy do I have one for you:
Consider the Bucks, Utah’s opponent Friday in a matchup of the NBA’s top two teams by point differential. Milwaukee is 0-8 this season when its opponents shoot 44 percent or better on 3s. But when opponents don’t hit that mark, the Bucks are 16-1.
That’s the prelude to some pretty sobering three-point numbers from this season that steadily point towards a homogenization of offense in the NBA.
6 stats to explain how Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have changed, from scorching shooting to Middleton mania (CBS Sports)
A pretty impressive collection of comparative stats from this season versus last in particular, a lot of which confirms what we’ve felt a few months into this campaign. Giannis’s usage has gone down, Khris has reached a new height as a scorer and playmaker, and the bench (for now) has shown more punch than it did a year ago.
The offense continues to chug along much like it did a year ago, but the defense — both overall and in half-court situations — has taken a step back. Whether that’s a function of some new tweaks to the system, a personnel problem, or something else depends on your point of view, I suppose.
Know Your Enemy
- Toronto Raptors - Raptors HQ - Have we really seen the last of Kyle Lowry in Toronto?
Good to know we aren’t the only fan base who loves tracking the real estate comings and goings of members of the team.
- Oklahoma City Thunder - Welcome to Loud City - Poku to the G-league: The Best Thing for the Exciting Rookie?
Oklahoma City is in that weird place all rebuilding teams end up at some point or another. You’ve got a roster full of young talent you want to develop (& Al Horford), yet there’s a limit to the number of minutes you can give out to each guy. So OKC, like the Bucks, have opted to send a promising rookie off to the G-League bubble for a little run.
- Sacramento Kings - Sactown Royalty - What are the odds the Kings break their playoff drought this year?
Looking at the standings I’m... uh... I’m not quite sure if Sacramento is going to be able to get there given the rest of the Western Conference
Fan Post of the Week
R983’s “58 TS% + 24 USG% Playoff Performers” which, if it taught me anything, it’s that 2017 Greg Monroe was a force of nature.
(Honorable mention to retiredjanitor’s “The Franks Paradox” which forced me to download AoE2 for the nostalgia)
The Social Media Section
Kyle’s making the crossover to Bucks Reddit. Wish him luck (and join him on Thursday!)
[ANNOUNCEMENT] Mark your calendars and get your questions ready for @brewhoop writer and podcaster @KyleCoche, who will be joining r/MkeBucks for an AMA Q&A on Thursday, February 18, at 2 p.m. central time!— r/MkeBucks (@BucksOnReddit) February 12, 2021
Jordan Nwora, Sam Merrill, and Mamadi Diakite: Not bad!
Stay ready All-Star
Belated birthday wishes to Liam
Torrey “DJW” Craig
Riley’s 2020-2021 Prediction Record: 17-10
retired janitor’s 2020-2021 Prediction Record: 16-11
It’ll be home sweet home for the Milwaukee Bucks this week after a stretch out on the road, and all four game will be hosted at the Forum. We start Tuesday to start a two-game mini series against the Raptors with the second game on Thursday before the Thunder and Kings come on Friday and Sunday respectively.
After a so-so go of it away from town, I expect the Bucks to turn things around and go 3-1 on the week with a loss coming in the second game against the Raptors. That whole trouble about adjusting from game to game and all that, you see.