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Bucks Weekly Report Card: November 11

What grades do we send the Bucks home with this weekend?

Milwaukee Bucks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Bucks were in action a lot this last week, with consecutive six-night sets of four games dating back to *checks schedule*... October 28th?! Geez, some way to treat the league’s oldest roster. Thankfully, the back-to-backs were home-home and Minneapolis-home, so they weren’t awful enough to expect schedule losses. The loss was a legitimate one, however, illustrative of what this team will need (i.e. Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton) to weather onslaughts from formidable Eastern Conference foes. As fuller health approaches, the likely rotation players who won’t be forced out (looking at you, Jordan Nwora) are rounding into form, and Milwaukee now looks like one of the NBA’s deeper units.


Giannis Antetokounmpo: A (last week: A+)

2 GP, 30.2 MPG, .432/.400/.607, 25.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 6.5 APG, 4.5 TPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG

As mentioned, Milwaukee’s schedule was a bit heavy recently, so this is probably one of the lighter loads we’ll see from Giannis for a bit. Even with both Thunder matchups off, some thought he looked a bit worn based on his showing in Atlanta. The shooting and efficiency weren’t there this week for sure—he missed half of his 20 free throws on Monday—but naturally, he made up for it with his first triple-double of the 2022–23 campaign in Minnesota. Look for a big week ahead with his legs well-rested.

Jrue Holiday: A- (last week: A-)

3 GP, 30.4 MPG, .458/.300/1.000, 18.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 8.7 APG, 3.7 TPG, 1.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Last week’s grade was reflective of the season’s first two weeks, but for the record, Holiday certainly merited an A+ based on the second week alone. Though he put up big numbers again in Minnesota, he ceded some scoring duties to Brook Lopez and Jevon Carter from Saturday on before turning his ankle late in the Hawks contest. Instead, he contributed to a greater degree as a playmaker and facilitator. His ankle might keep him limited for another game or two, so it makes sense to adjust our offensive expectations of him in the near term.

Brook Lopez: A+ (last week: A+)

4 GP, 32.5 MPG, .500/.385/.600, 16.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.8 TPG, 0.5 SPG, 2.3 BPG

Could Lopez be on pace for the most complete season of his career? His three-point shooting is back in a big way, canning treys at a rate unseen since his first year in hunter green. This week, he showed that he remains a reliable scorer both inside and outside the arc when called upon, a necessary halfcourt option while the Bucks lack Middleton. He also proved his conditioning with a whopping 46 minutes on Wednesday, capable of assuming a go-to offensive role in crunch time, if against a weaker (but younger!) opponent.

Grayson Allen: A (last week: C)

4 GP, 28.4 MPG, .586/.632/1.000, 14.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.5 TPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Bouncing between the starting lineup and bench depending on other starters’ availability, Allen didn’t skip a beat with his most prolific shooting performance yet. You expect hotness like 12 of his last 19 from three, but the bonus of his passing (6 assists in OKC) and drives to the rim (plus drawing a few fouls) were critical to wins where the Bucks lacked their stars. This reminds me more of the Allen we saw in last season’s early going when he assumed a more featured offensive role as Middleton and Holiday missed short stretches.

Jevon Carter: A (last week: C+)

4 GP, 30.4 MPG, .522/.545/.667, 15.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.8 APG, 2.0 TPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.3 BPG

If Carter could lead his squad against this year’s Thunder every night, we might have an All-Star on our hands. I think it’s well-understood that his small-sample-size shooting numbers from last year weren’t indicative of his true offensive skill set, it’s nonetheless impressive to see him assume a lead guard role when the Bucks needed it on Wednesday, complete with 12 dimes. With rumblings that Middleton and Connaughton are close to returning, the onus is now on Carter to establish some consistency in a non-featured role.

Bobby Portis: B+ (last week: B+)

4 GP, 29.2 MPG, .408/.412/.875, 13.5 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.3 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.0 BPG

Though he struggled from the floor at times, Portis benefitted on the glass from Lopez’s boxout mastery in the way Giannis usually does, notching 21 boards on Saturday evening. I’m not sure what gave him so much trouble with the Thunder matchups, though. Milwaukee needs some better work from him during those first- and third-quarter minutes when the offense slows as starters exit.

Wesley Matthews: B (last week: B-)

4 GP, 16.5 MPG, .385/.500/.000, 3.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.0 BPG

The veteran’s minutes subsided during the week’s earlier action before spiking in the shorthanded, double-OT effort on Wednesday, so Matthews hopefully settles back in the 10–15 minute range moving forward. Though I did appreciate his defensive energy in such a hotly contested but early-season tilt. Outside of a couple of timely triples, he’s not doing much on offense, but that’s acceptable in the grand scheme of the 2022–23 Bucks.

Jordan Nwora: D+ (last week: C)

4 GP, 17.4 MPG, .222/.154/1.000, 5.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.3 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Very little went right in these last four for the third-year wing, whose jumper looked totally broken aside from two makes on Saturday. With MarJon Beauchamp showing hints of contributing to this year’s Bucks, Nwora might be on the verge of losing his rotation spot before the returns of Middleton and Connaughton. He gets a small boost for decent rebounding totals lately.

MarJon Beauchamp: B+ (last week: C-)

4 GP, 20.9 MPG, .417/.364/.333, 9.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 1.5 TPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.0 BPG

I’m happy to talk about Beauchamp more in this column, a rookie who flashed actual usefulness a fair bit this week. As usual with young players, the main bugaboo is fouling (5 personals on Wednesday after fouling out to the same Thunder on Saturday), and that will kill any opportunity he receives to be additive. For now, it at least exemplifies the willingness to be physical with seasoned NBA players, and that’s a plus. More promising is his success in the corners (4/8 on Friday and Wednesday combined, his best games yet as a pro) since those chances will always be there when Giannis is on the floor. I’m still unconvinced he’ll be a key player on this year’s team, but my optimism about his future grows. It took Donte DiVincenzo 66 games to score 19 points, MJB needed eight.

George Hill: B+ (last week: B)

4 GP, 22.8 MPG, .400/.250/.625, 4.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 TPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG

Another veteran who probably should take it easy in the days ahead after tallying 35 minutes on Wednesday, Hill put together a great complementary effort against the young Thunder, putting his fingerprints all over a late-second quarter burst that allowed the Bucks to tie it before the half. Twelve minutes later, he tied it again with a buzzer-beating runner from deep to enter the fourth. If he establishes reliability that resembles Wednesday night, he’s a viable season-long rotation player.

Serge Ibaka: B (last week: B)

3 GP, 16.0 MPG, .667/.000/1.000, 5.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG

Ibaka gave Milwaukee solid minutes this week, primarily with shot-blocking and rebounding as one would anticipate, but even displayed some touch in the paint. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get 15–20 in select games ahead to relieve Lopez’s early-season workload; right now, he does just enough to keep things stable on both ends, which warrants playing time.

Sandro Mamukelashvili: B- (last week: incomplete)

2 GP, 6.2 MPG, .200/.000/.000, 1.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG

Though he’s not much over my customary 10 minute threshold for this column, let’s give Mamu some love for scoring his first points of the season in Atlanta and deterring Lu Dort at the rim on Wednesday night. For him, that’s a decent enough couple of outings.

Mike Budenholzer: A (last week: A)

3-1 W-L, 108.3 ORtg (19th), 105.7 DRtg (6th), 2.6 NetRtg (10th)

I’ll take any sagging efforts on either side of the ball with the knowledge frequent games recently test everyone's legs, especially when Milwaukee is digging deep into the bench, regularly trotting out 11 players in rotational minutes. Moreover, Bud has this team playing beyond its potential missing such key scorers, and signs point to other corrections as the season progresses. To wit, the Bucks’ transition offense currently ranks an uncharacteristic 30th, thanks in part to poor three-point shooting (which is trending upwards). That means Milwaukee’s halfcourt offense is actually slightly above average at 95.6 points per 100 possessions, half a point above league average (ranked 16th), all without their best isolation scorer. Credit where it’s due: Bud’s playcalling is buoying them when they need it.

Incomplete: Thanasis Antetokounmpo (3 GP, 6 MIN), A.J. Green (injured), Khris Middleton (injured), Pat Connaughton (injured), Joe Ingles (injured)


Great news all around: the Bucks won’t have a back-to-back again until January 3rd and 4th. Plenty of time for rest, rehabilitation, nectarines, peaches, and bananas (nice work from our Gabe Stoltz). In the week ahead, I’m looking primarily at the top of the roster before role players. Will Giannis re-impose his will on early-season Eastern hopefuls Atlanta (again) and Cleveland? Will Holiday play and be capable of the scoring load he previously shouldered? From there, let’s hope for continued accuracy from Allen and for Portis to break his slump. With the caveat that we soon might see one of Milwaukee’s top six or seven players back in action, I’m also curious to see how Carter fits into a more complete rotation

Poll

How would you grade the Bucks’ performance this past week?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    A
    (26 votes)
  • 25%
    B
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (0 votes)
35 votes total Vote Now

What are your individual grades? Let me know in the comments below.