On a three-game winning streak and likely welcoming their second All-Star back to the court this evening, the Bucks seem to have found their swagger again. The schedule is soft for another few games before a tougher road stretch beckons, but they have a nice nest egg after winning 75% of their first twenty contests. Initial quarterly returns are robust, futures bode well with the roster nearing its preseason actualization, and a certain Greek’s MVP case is strengthening. I generally have an optimistic view of this organization and its title chances this season, but I doubt even the most rosy-eyed Bucks observers saw a 15-5 record without Khris Middleton.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: A+ (last week: A-)
3 GP, 32.3 MPG, .578/.308/.750, 35.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 5.7 APG, 3.0 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 1.0 BPG
The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week appears to be angling for that honor consecutively, and he appears to be addressing his recent free throw dilemma.
Jrue Holiday: A (last week: B)
3 GP, 30.6 MPG, .417/.357/1.000, 15.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.7 TPG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Likely the best defensive stretch of Holiday’s season thus far after sterling efforts on Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, and Darius Garland (the latter two shared with Carter). Can keep that going tonight, because he’ll likely get a crack at LeBron James.
Brook Lopez: A (last week: A)
3 GP, 28.4 MPG, .556/.500/1.000, 10.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.7 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 4.0 BPG
Like Holiday, taking a slight backseat offensively as Allen steps up, which jives well with Middleton’s imminent return. Absolutely smothered Cleveland inside.
Grayson Allen: A+ (last week: A-)
3 GP, 30.2 MPG, .519/.500/.778, 14.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.7 APG, 0.7 TPG, 1.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Otherworldly against a pretty solid Dallas defense, then looked great in the closing lineup at Madison Square Garden, even beyond hitting the game-winner. Critical to the Bucks having any success in the half-court offense on Wednesday evening.
Jevon Carter: A+ (last week: B+)
3 GP, 29.1 MPG, .591/.667/1.000, 11.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 TPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Best all-around effort as a Buck last Friday night versus the Cavs. Great work on Brunson two days ago. Can he still put up the occasional double-digit sharpshooting performance if he moves to the bench?
Bobby Portis: A- (last week: B+)
3 GP, 27.5 MPG, .531/.400/.500, 13.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
He’s a double-double machine, but Milwaukee needs his shooting to tick closer to his career 38% from deep; right now it’s at 32.9%. If he keeps creating like this in the post, though, it adds a nice dimension to the half-court offense.
Pat Connaughton: B- (last week: B-)
2 GP, 17.3 MPG, .313/.273/.000, 6.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Again, some leniency is warranted since his comeback was interrupted after just one game due to illness. Bonus points for the shiner. While the calf injury doesn’t appear to have sapped his athleticism, the question is whether or not it affected his shot?
Wesley Matthews: B (last week: B-)
3 GP, 13.0 MPG, .333/.200/1.000, 2.3 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.0 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG
His spurts on Cleveland’s guards and Doncic were quite good. This workload suits him well and I don’t think anyone would complain about him settling into this role for a few months.
George Hill: B+ (last week: B+)
3 GP, 15.2 MPG, .600/.400/.250, 5.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.7 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Very consistent, if marginal work in limited minutes this week. As with Matthews, keeping him around this level in the near future seems ideal.
Jordan Nwora: D (last week: C+)
2 GP, 17.7 MPG, .273/.250/1.000, 5.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.5 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Likely only played because Connaughton and Matthews aren’t at full strength, but did nothing with it. Might see spot minutes as Middleton ramps up. Tough to see a future here in not just Milwaukee but the league as a whole.
Sandro Mamukelashvili: D+ (last week: incomplete)
2 GP, 8.3 MPG, .333/.000/.500, 1.5 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.5 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Outside of a nice move last Friday night that sent him to the line... well, he’s tearing it up in Oshkosh!
Mike Budenholzer: A (last week: B-)
3-0 W-L, 121.1 ORtg (4th), 110.3 DRtg (5th), 10.8 NetRtg (3rd)
Bud said he didn’t make any alterations at half during the Cavs game to better contain Garland and Mitchell, who combined for 38 to that point... but I’m not buying it! In any case, the Bucks have both great personnel and game plans for dynamic opposing guards, who rarely find open shots when facing this defense. Their offensive rating has ticked up to about league-average too.
Incomplete: A.J. Green (3 GP, 5 MIN), MarJon Beauchamp (2 GP, 5 MIN), Thanasis Antetokoumpo (2 GP, 4 MIN), Serge Ibaka (DNP), Khris Middleton (injured), Joe Ingles (injured)
All eyes are on James Khristian Middleton after seven-plus months away from NBA basketball nursing two ailments, though with minute restrictions certainly involved, I don’t expect to have many conclusions about his chemistry on this year’s squad a week from now. Instead, let’s shift that reintegration attention to Connaughton, whose 24 minutes on Wednesday seem typical enough. The underrated storyline from the upcoming action might be how one of Carter or Allen adjust to a reserve role, should Middleton quickly reclaim his starting spot.
How would you grade the Bucks’ performance this past week?
This poll is closed
What are your individual grades? Let me know in the comments below.