There are worse problems to have in life. Milwaukee’s defense is really really good (unless we’re trying to guard a LeBron-AD P&R) and the offense is... less good.
Not bad, by any means. In fact, just a hair below bang-average at 112.5 placing us at 16th as of the moment I’m writing this. Could it be as simple as adding Khris Middleton back into the mix and allowing his scoring to lead us out of the middle of the pack doldrums? Let’s take a look at our scoring profile so far this year and what Khris may add to it.
If we want a group to compare to, let’s choose 2020-2021’s squad. That year we finished the season with the sixth-best offense and a ORTG of 117.2. They boasted a .404 3PAr with a 38.9% clip from three, about 31.8% of their shot attempts came within 5 feet of the basket and they made 66.1% of them, and took 15.0% from the midrange and converted 43%. On top of that, 56.9% of their made baskets were assisted.
This year, through 22 games, the overall team FG% has dropped two points, with the 3P% dipping to 35.2% and the attempt rate ticking up to .416. We’re actually taking more shots around the basket than before at 33.4%, but are also worse converting there at 64.0% (witness the first half of the Knicks game; lots of decent looks, they just didn’t fall). Midrangers are down to 13.7% of shot attempts and we’re only making 39.9% of those. Most remarkable to me is how down our corner 3P%s are. In 2020-2021 we made 43.8% of looks from the left corner and 38.2% from the right. This year, those are down to 34.3% and 33.0% respectively. And we’re actually trying to shoot more from those spots than in previous years.
So, in short, the where of the attempts is promising on paper. The actual conversion not as much.
Khris will address the percentage drops both through his own shooting percentages (career .392 3P%, takes over a third of his attempts in the zone from 10 ft from the basket to the three-point line and makes about 46% of them) and in terms of creation now that he’s routinely become an AST% guy in the low to mid 20s. The player he’s directly replacing in the starting lineup, Jevon Carter, hasn’t crossed that creation threshold just yet, and he’s a traditional PG. If his season debut is anything to go by, Khris Middleton will boost Milwaukee’s offense. But will he help lift all boats as well?
The surrounding talent is there: I feel like Grayson Allen is an upgrade over Bryn Forbes and obviously a superior shooter to Donte DiVincenzo, Jevon Carter has more upside than DJ Augustin or Jeff Teague, Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton should more or less fulfill their roles, Brook looks as good as ever, and we haven’t even pulled at the Joe Ingles wildcard yet. This is a team that should work its way up to a regular-season buzzsaw in short order if everything comes together. What remains to be seen is whether we have assembled enough talent to avoid the trench warfare playoff offense of years past — can the mere presence of Khris Middleton be enough to get us over the line?
Khris Middleton’s impending Bucks return could add much-needed juice (Basketball News)
A nice setting of the table as Khris starts to work his way back into the rhythm of Milwaukee’s offense. Even if he is bang average or a little below on defense, you tend to assume there is enough help around him that the Bucks can weather that. It is the half-court offense — most akin to a rendition of the Hot Dog Dance from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse — that needs someone to pick it up off the floor. Khris can be an above-average passer in P&R, but more important are the handful of possessions a game where he can generate points off isolation pull-ups in a frozen offensive arrangement. Here’s to pushing that team offensive rating up!
Meeska. Mooska. Middleton.
Giannis and the Bucks are chasing history in 2023 (Milwaukee Record)
It’ll always be a challenge zooming in and out on where Giannis, the Bucks, Khris, Jrue, Brook, Bud, etc. all stack up in both the here and now and history writ large. Everyone is mostly in agreement that it’ll take winning another title with this group to cement their place as a historically significant powerhouse. Right now it feels (to me) that this is still a group viewed as Giannis the transcendent individual and a solid group who were able to break through without doing the trick again. The comparisons to the Tim Duncan-era Spurs are apt. But Duncan was and is a unique personality who, after flirting with the Magic in 2000, appeared content to remain in San Antonio his entire career even with lengthy breaks between title-winning seasons.
Is Giannis of that mold? I tend to believe he is. Can the organization work up enough magic around him to win it all one, two, even three more times before he hangs it up? To be determined.
I enjoy the fact that a player like Giannis wants to continue to suit up for international play whenever he has the chance to. It speaks to his understanding that he and other athletes play a role as a sort of national avatar. When he suits up, whether he wears a jersey with “Ελλάδα” or “Milwaukee” on the front, there seems to flash a sort of old-school mentality about what it means to play in those colors.
Or maybe I’m just a romantic. C’est la.
Read All About Bobby Portis in the December Issue of Milwaukee Magazine (Milwaukee Magazine)
I can personally guarantee a FPOTW award and the generous winnings that go with it to whoever grabs a copy of the Milwaukee Mag December 2022 edition and posts the TLDR of the Bobby feature article as a Fan Post. There’s never been a quicker path to niche internet immortality, people!
The Bulls Are the NBA’s Most Depressing Team (The Ringer)
It’s been this way virtually forever, and I certainly see no signs of it letting up any time soon. A masterclass in backing yourself into an awful corner and then continuing to dig dig dig. The Bulls will turn a corner eventually, and I welcome the opportunity to play against them in games with real stakes — if they pull the trigger on a rumored DeRozan+Vucevic for Westbrook trade, I think that’d be a step in the right direction. For now, they’re too incompetent in too many areas to overcome through an avalanche of mid-range jumpers. And, to be honest, the muck has simmered long enough to suggest the existence organizational issues that may hold the team back no matter what direction the roster heads in. Very Bucks-y.
He just can’t help winning, folks! Numerous weeks in a row now is the streak retired janitor is up to with FPOTW wins. It’s like having another member of the staff who is paid via Brew Hoop Bucks rather than nice emails from upper management encouraging us to get our post count up! This week we have “Spider-Man”, an exercise in placing Giannis’s soaring USG% in historical context alongside some of the greatest checkers this sport has ever seen. Tall Westbrook is an epithet, but this year’s numbers have Giannis sitting alongside or even above some of Westbrook’s most inward-looking seasons!
Know Your Enemy
- Orlando Magic - Orlando Pinstriped Post - First Quarter Awards for the 2022-2023 Orlando Magic
Orlando is executing a perfect tank. Young players who have real promise in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, a young-ish guy who is still a few seasons from even entering his prime years in Wendell Carter Jr., old man Terrence Ross, and whatever the hell Bol Bol turns out to be. All that, and a metric ton of losing. Good for them.
- Sacramento Kings - Sactown Royalty - The Sacramento Kings’ victory beam powering their surprising season, explained
Sacramento might be the most deranged of all the franchises in the entire NBA. Owner Vivek Ranadive perpetually throws out random ideas that mostly work to the detriment of the team he hypothetically profits from — see: perpetual cherry pickers. But like any ideas guy, if you turn on a fire hose of thinking you’re bound to happen upon something good eventual. Thus, The Beam.
- Dallas Mavericks - Mavs Money Ball - The Kemba Walker signing shows that nothing has changed for the Mavericks
Luka Doncic may prove enough a power on his own to bring the Mavericks to title glory again during his career. It’ll probably be a slog to reach that point, though. They reached the Western Conference Finals a year ago before letting their lead traditional guard walk to New York City and haven’t bothered with a replacement yet. Doing literally everything on your own sounds fun in theory, but it wears you down eventually.
There are two teams I look forward to playing the most because of their SBN site: The Pacers and basketball maestra Caitlin Cooper at Indy Cornrows, and the Rockets with Xiane’s Five Out column. Even better, this week’s Five Out unites with rj’s FPOTW tackling the disparity between NBA offenses with balanced workload distribution (the Celtics) and those with a singular focus (the Mavs and, not mentioned but in a similar boat, the Bucks).
The Social Media Section
This dude is literally recreating his Bucks tenure beat-for-beat lol. He’s already cashing 50% of his “energy and effort” bandaid catchphrase.
Jason Kidd on the Mavericks getting out-rebounded 52-30 by the Pistons:— Grant Afseth (@GrantAfseth) December 2, 2022
"When you look at the defense with the way we're playing right now with the Reds, it's getting a lot of smalls on the bigs. Our team rebounding has to be better. ... It comes down to effort."
“Feat. Bill Clinton”
God Emperor Goof, reporting for duty
Thanasis and North Carolina State football. Perfect.
MBS is going to be wowed by our “The Gathering Place” court while taking in a Tuesday night game in February against the Pistons
The NBA has once again expanded the group of potential investors allowed to take stakes in its franchises, @MikeVorkunov confirmed.— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) December 1, 2022
Most notably, sovereign wealth funds can now buy a share of an NBA team.https://t.co/uN6PPcUx7u
You got it, coach.
Coaches. Year after year. Winning. The price. Paid. Scar tissue. Quite deep. Old dog winners have many detractors, naysayers who assault from the flank. Keep going. Worry not. Human nature. Your excellence, being demanding, part of the deal. Embrace w/out rancor. Others? Boohoo.— Mike Dunlap (@CoachMikeDunlap) November 27, 2022
Belated congrats to Lauren for her Hall of Fame induction
Still can’t believe he’s actually back
Riley’s 2022-2023 Weekly Prediction Record: 11-11
Milwaukee’s Actual 2022-2023 Record: 16-6
Full week on deck with the Bucks away from home more often than not. It starts tonight in Orlando against the Magic, after which the Bucks will return to Milwaukee to host the Kings and their Beam on Wednesday. Then it’s off to Texas for some two-step action beginning with the Mavericks on Friday and finishing the week in Houston to play the Rockets.
I think we’ll go 3-1 with the loss coming to the Mavericks, though I wouldn’t be shocked if it is bumpier than that. Integrating Khris and reshuffling the rotation will be a gradual project, and we may take advantage of the Magic or Rockets games to rest some players. Sacramento is no longer a rollover, either, so there should be some topsy-turvy action to enjoy.