Writer’s note: All stats are from Cleaning the Glass or NBA.com
How much things can change in a matter of a week. At this point last week, we were waxing poetic about the Milwaukee Bucks and they had just pulled off an impressive win on the road against the Denver Nuggets without Jrue Holiday. Fast forward a week and things are not so rosy after losses to the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, and Oklahoma City Thunder. As with most rough stretches, we have some thoughts: part of it is player performance-related while others might be rough quarters and opposition. Let’s look at where we need to Panic? At the 4-1-Forum.
I’m STILL worried about Brook.
So last time, I talked about Brook Lopez, I was saying that despite the drop in rim protection, mainly due to a higher foul rate, Brook was still providing enough with both his shooting and overall defensive impact that Milwaukee shouldn’t trade him or even take him out of the starting lineup. Brook’s fouling rate has dropped from 4.6% earlier in the season to 2.7% putting him in the 85th percentile for bigs showing a much needed improvement. At that time, Milwaukee was not switching and now are using it at a higher rate than before as they try and experiment with different schemes to prepare for the playoffs. Switching has hurt Brook, who doesn’t have as much speed to fully thrive and it’s exposed him more than any other Bucks player. Brook was also not part of the closing lineup in the Thunder game, which could be a sign of things to come or just a random one off. The tough part is with his contract, it’s tough to move Brook and get an upgrade that is both good enough and available...so unless you include Donte DiVincenzo, or any non-existent first round picks, Brook will be here to stay and likely start.
Panic Level: That snowblower you were prepping for takes a lot longer to start than you desire
Donte isn’t the guy and DJ Augustin looks like a bad signing.
Donte DiVincenzo started the season hotter then a lasagna out of the oven. He was shooting over 60% from three, jumping in passing lanes and scoring double digit points for the month of December. Then January came and the hot shooting disappeared and he struggled. Donte has rebounded well the last few weeks and has a shot chart you would hope to see out of him.
Donte’s three-point shooting is still above 40%, but his finishing at the rim is an abysmal 52% although one hopes that improves as the season goes on. Donte is still worth sticking with unless you can find an upgrade that takes Milwaukee to clear cut favorites in the East. DJ Augustin, however, has not had a good time and the signing that everyone agreed was a good move by Horst has looked old, slow and ineffective. Augustin’s raw offensive production was always going to be lower with his move to Milwaukee, but his points per shot attempt, and assist percentage are down from last year. Augustin is shooting a respectable 37% from three which is shocking because he’s shooting 25% from the corner three area. Augustin was always going to be below average defensively, but there was the argument that his offense and playmaking can make up for it. So far that hasn’t looked to be the case and now Milwaukee seem to have a severe depth problem from the point guard position. Augustin will need to turn it around or else Horst will have to find another option to replace him.
Donte Panic Level: You have a fully functional and fine laptop, but you know you need a better one but don’t have the funds to do so.
Augustin Panic Level: The feeling of buyer’s remorse is fine.
Milwaukee have won games but they haven’t gotten a marquee win.
This was a talking point before the road trip where the Bucks would rack up wins against the likes of the Pistons, Bulls and Magic but couldn’t beat top foes like the Nets, Lakers or Celtics. The Bucks do have wins against the Nuggets, Pacers, Warriors, Cavaliers and Trail Blazers; all of them either in the playoffs or close to playoff contention. Yes it would be good for the Bucks to get a marquee victory; but with a complicated schedule and the internal debate on how much the regular season matters, we are not going to get a clear answer on what people will consider for the first phase of the season unless Milwaukee wins against the Los Angeles Clippers later this month.
Panic Level: Just Win baby
There you have it, another successful Panic? At the 4-1-Forum. Hopefully Milwaukee can get a better grip on switching and Brook and Augustin look better than they have. Was there a topic I missed? Feel free to put it in the comments.