clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bucks Final Report Card: 2021–22

What grades do the Bucks receive for their seasons?

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a minute, but as promised, we’re putting a bow on the Bucks season that was with a final accounting of everyone involved. This time, you have a chance to get in on the evaluations too! Like any typically-swamped college professor at the end of a semester, I’m late in getting these grades up, but outside of a few sentences summing up my thoughts, this is more about giving readers the ability to weigh in on each player.


Giannis Antetokounmpo: A+ (last season: A++)

67 GP, 32.9 MPG, .553/.293/.722, 29.9 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 5.8 APG, 3.3 TPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.4 BPG

If you’re an MVP finalist, that’s gotta be an A at a minimum, right? If you have a historically great postseason series on top of that, even if you fall short of the lofty heights of a year ago, that’s certainly an A+. Like several role players, Giannis also posted career numbers (most notably from a scoring perspective) while vastly improving his foul shooting and maintaining all-world defense, the latter being underappreciated nationally considering how much he played up a position.

Poll

How would you grade Giannis‘ performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    A
    (598 votes)
  • 2%
    B
    (18 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    D
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (2 votes)
621 votes total Vote Now

Khris Middleton: A- (last season: A)

66 GP, 32.4 MPG, .443/.373/.890, 20.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2.9 TPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG

A slight downturn in efficiency between the regular season and the previous one, but ultimately Middleton was the obvious missing link between another Conference Finals (or perhaps even Finals berth) and a second-round exit, underscoring his vital importance to Milwaukee. Between last year’s title run and the Olympics, it’s not too surprising the burn caught up to him in some regard, so I look forward to seeing him rejuvenated with a full offseason.

Poll

How would you grade Middleton‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    A
    (205 votes)
  • 58%
    B
    (336 votes)
  • 5%
    C
    (29 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
576 votes total Vote Now

Jrue Holiday: A (last season: A)

67 GP, 32.9 MPG, .501/.411/.761, 18.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.8 APG, 2.7 TPG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Though Marcus Smart got the hardware and perhaps had the better overall defensive year statistically, it’s not controversial to say that Holiday remains the premier defensive guard in today’s NBA. All that plus a career year from deep and from an efficiency perspective. He’s miscast as a second scoring option in a postseason series where he has to take on such a massive defensive load, but without him, the Bucks are questionable Finals contenders.

Poll

How would you grade Holiday‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    A
    (370 votes)
  • 30%
    B
    (172 votes)
  • 1%
    C
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
558 votes total Vote Now

Brook Lopez: B (last season: A-)

13 GP, 22.9 MPG, .466/.358/.870, 12.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.9 TPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG

In just 15% of the full season, Lopez’s numbers are about what we’re used to during his Milwaukee tenure. Undoubtedly, the team defense as a whole suffered during the regular season without him and looked pretty sensational into the playoffs. If I learned anything this year, it’s how irreplaceable what he brings to this team is, and how even big men with long-earned defensive reputations like Ibaka can’t quite replicate it.

Poll

How would you grade Lopez‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    A
    (41 votes)
  • 46%
    B
    (250 votes)
  • 37%
    C
    (202 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (29 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (13 votes)
535 votes total Vote Now

Grayson Allen: B (last season: in Memphis)

66 GP, 27.3 MPG, .448/.409/.865, 11.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.7 TPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Casting aside recency bias after a rough series left some fans with a sour taste in their mouths, Allen was great for much of the regular season and started The Second Great Chicago Fire. A career season in his first action as a (nearly) full-time starter is worth a pat on the back for sure. If his performance against Boston was along the lines of his regular-season work, he’d likely get an A- from me.

Poll

How would you grade Allen‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (34 votes)
  • 47%
    B
    (256 votes)
  • 36%
    C
    (197 votes)
  • 7%
    D
    (40 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (7 votes)
534 votes total Vote Now

Bobby Portis: A (last season: A)

72 GP, 28.2 MPG, .479/.393/.752, 14.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.3 TPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Filling in for Lopez in the starting lineup with aplomb, Portis never quite looked as comfortable off the bench upon returning there, but this doesn’t concern me moving forward. Like Allen, this was a career year in his first major action as a starter, but the shine was dulled by a mediocre-at-best playoff run where his outside shooting fell off a cliff. Nevertheless, he’s likely to be back on a long-term deal being paid more commensurate value, and we have every reason to expect his performance to keep up.

Poll

How would you grade Portis‘ performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    A
    (324 votes)
  • 34%
    B
    (180 votes)
  • 2%
    C
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (1 vote)
519 votes total Vote Now

Pat Connaughton: A (last season: B+)

65 GP, 26.0 MPG, .458/.395/.833, 9.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.5 TPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Again, this was the best year of Connaughton’s career and in the early part of the season, he looked like one of the NBA’s best few high-volume three-point shooters. The hand injury thankfully didn’t keep him out too long or sap his accuracy from deep, though it wasn’t until he had a few playoff games under his belt that we saw the kind of shooting that helped propel Milwaukee to a title less than 11 months ago.

Poll

How would you grade Connaughton‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    A
    (244 votes)
  • 41%
    B
    (209 votes)
  • 9%
    C
    (47 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (2 votes)
505 votes total Vote Now

George Hill: C (last season: in Oklahoma City and Philly)

54 GP, 23.2 MPG, .429/.306/.919, 6.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.8 TPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG

While the above stats look every bit like a 36-year-old with a lot of mileage and who dealt with nagging injuries later into the year, the fact remains that during the regular season, the Bucks played very well with him on the floor. Opponents scored just 104.2 points per 100 possessions when he played, so while Hill’s effect on his team’s offense was neutral, his net rating was +12. Obviously, that didn’t translate to the playoffs after returning from a month-long injury layoff, but it certainly wasn’t all bad for Hill this season in spite of the underwhelming traditional numbers.

Poll

How would you grade Hill‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    B
    (17 votes)
  • 27%
    C
    (137 votes)
  • 44%
    D
    (221 votes)
  • 23%
    F
    (117 votes)
495 votes total Vote Now

Wesley Matthews: B+ (last season: in Los Angeles)

49 GP, 20.4 MPG, .395/.338/.786, 5.1 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.4 TPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Matthews underwent some pretty rough offensive stretches throughout the year, but as the playoffs approached and his defensive prowess became necessary in the starting lineup, he did not disappoint in many regards. He provided to Milwaukee during those critical games what P.J. Tucker did a year prior, and maybe even gave them a skosh more offense. Without his yeoman’s effort on Jayson Tatum, the Bucks likely wouldn’t make it more than 5 games in the second round.

Poll

How would you grade Matthews’ performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    A
    (47 votes)
  • 50%
    B
    (240 votes)
  • 32%
    C
    (157 votes)
  • 6%
    D
    (29 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
476 votes total Vote Now

Donte DiVincenzo: D+ (last season: B+)

17 GP, 20.1 MPG, .331/.284/.852, 7.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.6 TPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG (Milwaukee numbers)

Upon returning from offseason surgery, DiVincenzo’s reintegration into the rotation was interrupted by both COVID and a reaggravating ankle sprain. That’s a bummer, but he never found any real rhythm once he was healthy. His finishing at the rim hit its nadir and he generally tanked whatever trade value he possessed (which wasn’t that high considering the injuries), and the Bucks might actually have done well to get a rotation-level player plus two second-rounders out of him. At no point in January did it appear that he would have made a real impact in the playoffs on a fully healthy Bucks squad and given his offensive limitations, I’m skeptical he’d have helped much against Boston

Poll

How would you grade DiVincenzo‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    B
    (23 votes)
  • 28%
    C
    (118 votes)
  • 41%
    D
    (172 votes)
  • 22%
    F
    (94 votes)
416 votes total Vote Now

Jevon Carter: B (last season: in Phoenix)

20 GP, 17.7 MPG, .506/.558/1.000, 5.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.4 TPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG (Milwaukee numbers)

Those are some really gaudy shooting numbers in a pretty small sample size, but I don’t think many were under the illusion those would continue in heavy rotation minutes. Carter might have deserved more run in the Boston series and definitely has a future in the league as a backup point guard, but while his defense is solid, his size makes his playability in certain matchups (including against Boston) pretty questionable. A job well done in Milwaukee for sure, and a very nice find amid Brooklyn’s castaways.

Poll

How would you grade Carter‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    A
    (92 votes)
  • 51%
    B
    (215 votes)
  • 21%
    C
    (92 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
421 votes total Vote Now

Serge Ibaka: C+ (last season: in Los Angeles)

19 GP, 17.8 MPG, .519/.351/.800, 7.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.5 TPG, 0.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG (Milwaukee numbers)

Once Lopez proved he was healthy, Ibaka didn’t have much of a place on this team, perhaps unless Milwaukee faced Joel Embiid and ran into foul trouble. Still, there’s nothing inherently bad about what Ibaka put together as a Buck even if he wasn’t meant for the postseason rotation, or if it resembled his work prior to 2020.

Poll

How would you grade Ibaka‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (7 votes)
  • 6%
    B
    (29 votes)
  • 38%
    C
    (162 votes)
  • 36%
    D
    (150 votes)
  • 16%
    F
    (68 votes)
416 votes total Vote Now

Jordan Nwora: C+ (last season: B)

61 GP, 19.1 MPG, .403/.348/.837, 7.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.9 TPG, 0.4 SPG, 0.3 BPG

I didn’t think Nwora made a real step forward upon his rookie performance in increased minutes, but he did have a handful of nice games where he filled the stat sheet beyond just scoring. The main issue was that after flashing some efficiency and accurate shooting during low-pressure minutes last year, he couldn’t put up similar numbers even in garbage time this year.

Poll

How would you grade Nwora‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (5 votes)
  • 5%
    B
    (24 votes)
  • 49%
    C
    (202 votes)
  • 37%
    D
    (153 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (27 votes)
411 votes total Vote Now

Thanasis Antetokounmpo: C- (last season: C)

48 GP, 9.9 MPG, .547/.143/.630, 3.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.5 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Thanks to a thin frontcourt early in the season, Thanasis got a bit more action than anyone really wanted, especially against big men who had him outsized and outmuscled. If Milwaukee had to rely on him for any more than they ended up needing, things could have been pretty ugly, but probably not ugly enough to threaten his spot on the bench.

Poll

How would you grade Thanasis’ performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    A
    (43 votes)
  • 10%
    B
    (42 votes)
  • 45%
    C
    (185 votes)
  • 24%
    D
    (100 votes)
  • 8%
    F
    (33 votes)
403 votes total Vote Now

DeMarcus Cousins: B- (last season: in Houston and Los Angeles)

17 GP, 16.9 MPG, .466/.271/.816, 9.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.9 TPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG (Milwaukee numbers)

While the handwringing about not guaranteeing Boogie’s contract for the rest of the season was a bit silly, I get why he was well-liked among fans and players. With how overmatched he was defensively and how poor the Bucks’ rim protection was during his brief tenure, he also wouldn’t have had a postseason role, so letting him out of his deal was sensible enough.

Poll

How would you grade Cousins’ performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    A
    (32 votes)
  • 42%
    B
    (156 votes)
  • 33%
    C
    (122 votes)
  • 11%
    D
    (43 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (16 votes)
369 votes total Vote Now

Rodney Hood: D (last season: in Portland and Toronto)

39 GP, 14.9 MPG, .351/.300/.929, 3.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.2 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG (Milwaukee numbers)

After that Achilles injury a couple of years back, Hood’s NBA playability looked more and more untenable as time went by. Given the chance at minutes in Milwaukee with probably the best shot at a career revitalization he could hope for, he sadly could not perform and didn’t have many decent games at all. This is probably the end of the line for Hood.

Poll

How would you grade Hood‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    B
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    C
    (35 votes)
  • 38%
    D
    (132 votes)
  • 49%
    F
    (168 votes)
341 votes total Vote Now

Semi Ojeleye: F (last season: in Boston)

20 GP, 15.4 MPG, .257/.268/.769, 2.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.3 APG, 1.3 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG (Milwaukee numbers)

Speaking of the end of the line, I don’t think any player on a guaranteed contract looked less like an NBA player than Ojeleye. A preseason injury hampered his prospects of rotation minutes, though I don’t really think that’s to blame here. No harm in giving a minimum to a guy who flashed some usefulness in Boston for a few years, so just like Hood, Ojeleye didn’t really hurt Milwaukee this year.

Poll

How would you grade Ojeleye‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    C
    (14 votes)
  • 14%
    D
    (50 votes)
  • 80%
    F
    (280 votes)
348 votes total Vote Now

Sandro Mamukelashvili: B (last season: in college)

41 GP, 9.9 MPG, .496/.423/.818, 3.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.4 TPG, 0.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG

In pretty solid minutes for a two-way player, Mamu showed some promise offensively with his passing and scoring efficiency in a lot of inconsequential minutes. The jury is still out on his NBA future unless he puts on enough muscle and becomes defensively playable without fouling. It’s eyebrow-raising that the Bucks elected to give NBA contracts (though not guaranteed for next season) to Luca Vildoza and Rayjon Tucker as the season ended rather than elevate Mamu onto a standard deal, so there’s a definite possibility he doesn’t return.

Poll

How would you grade Mamukelashvili‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    A
    (17 votes)
  • 30%
    B
    (106 votes)
  • 44%
    C
    (151 votes)
  • 15%
    D
    (52 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (17 votes)
343 votes total Vote Now

Lindell Wigginton: C+ (last season: in G League)

19 GP, 10.5 MPG, .426/.346/.543, 4.2 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.6 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Of the revolving door that was the Bucks’ other two-way spot, Wigginton showed the most competence, though that bar was pretty low. He had the defensive prowess of Justin Robinson and shot decently during minutes against actual NBA-level talent, but I don’t think it was enough to make anyone believe he has a real future in the league.

Poll

How would you grade Wigginton‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    B
    (27 votes)
  • 44%
    C
    (136 votes)
  • 34%
    D
    (106 votes)
  • 10%
    F
    (32 votes)
304 votes total Vote Now

Justin Robinson: D (last season: in Oklahoma City and G League)

17 GP, 11.6 MPG, .316/.270/1.000, 2.8 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.6 TPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.0 BPG

Remember him? Robinson never looked like he belonged, and outside of some ten days after leaving the Bucks by December thanks to the omicron outbreak, he probably won’t get another chance to prove he does. I don’t think there’s any danger of me eating crow for saying this, but I don’t think he’s going to follow the post-Milwaukee Gary Payton II path.

Poll

How would you grade Robinson‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    B
    (5 votes)
  • 12%
    C
    (36 votes)
  • 55%
    D
    (157 votes)
  • 29%
    F
    (83 votes)
282 votes total Vote Now

Javonte Smart: D (last season: in college)

13 GP, 12.3 MPG, .256/.222/.833, 2.4 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.2 BPG (Milwaukee numbers)

I actually thought Smart was an upgrade on Robinson, though in the end, his numbers look worse. Being taller for a point guard, he might stick in the league a little bit and he found his way back to the Miami organization after Milwaukee cut him. Again, though, I don’t think he showed at any point that he was an NBA player this season.

Poll

How would you grade Smart‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    B
    (6 votes)
  • 17%
    C
    (48 votes)
  • 52%
    D
    (144 votes)
  • 26%
    F
    (73 votes)
276 votes total Vote Now

Mike Budenholzer: B+ (last season: A+)

51-31 W-L, 115.1 ORtg (3rd), 111.8 DRtg (14th), 3.3 NetRtg (8th), 99.9 Pace (7th)

Injuries dealt Bud a raw deal for a long stretch of the regular season and the postseason, most notably. Still, getting 51 wins out of this squad plus being Boston loss in game 82 away from the 2 seed after Milwaukee limped through stretches early in the season and in January is a W in my book. Restless fans are back to pointing fingers at him for coming up short in the playoffs, but the best argument against him is that an elite (not merely a good) coach would have found a way to beat Boston. Sure, maybe Kerr or Popovich could have done it, but Spoelstra couldn’t do it either. I mainly counter that sentiment with this: it requires a pretty dang good coach to be in a position to beat Boston in 6 without Middleton.

Poll

How would you grade Budenholzer‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    A
    (64 votes)
  • 56%
    B
    (204 votes)
  • 18%
    C
    (68 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (18 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (8 votes)
362 votes total Vote Now

Jon Horst: B- (last season: A+)

3 trades, 9 guaranteed free-agent signings, 2 extensions, 2 draft choices

Many point to Horst’s whiff at getting a postseason rotation player in the DiVincenzo trade as a major factor in the Bucks’ demise. I still think that 1) DiVincenzo’s value wasn’t high enough to get an odds-on playoff difference-maker and 2) while Ibaka provided little on-court value to the Bucks this year, the second-round picks Horst netted could be flipped for a player that does in a future season(s). The other bone of contention is letting P.J. Tucker walk, but as the man himself said, he decided that Milwaukee telling him to go out and find an offer that they would match was disrespectful enough that he didn’t want to return. Horst managed to replace his postseason contributions on a minimum deal with Matthews, he stole Allen away from Memphis, plus the contracts to Portis and Connaughton continued providing surplus value. Altogether, I found Horst’s moves to be pretty neutral this year: his missteps weren’t huge, and he managed to correct them by getting back to even.

Poll

How would you grade Horst‘s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    A
    (40 votes)
  • 50%
    B
    (176 votes)
  • 30%
    C
    (108 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (19 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (8 votes)
351 votes total Vote Now

Incomplete: DeAndre’ Bembry (8 GP, 77 MIN), Greg Monroe (5 GP, 70 MIN), Langston Galloway (3 GP, 49 MIN), Georgios Kalaitzakis (9 GP, 48 MIN), Rayjon Tucker (2 GP, 42 MIN), Luca Vildoza (7 playoff GP, 17 MIN), Luke Kornet (1 GP, 3 MIN), Jeff Dowtin (1 GP, 3 MIN), Javin DeLaurier (1 GP, 3 MIN)


With that, there’s not too much else I have to say about Milwaukee’s title defense, so I finally can shift to offseason mode and look forward to how next year’s roster can be shaped. I’ll have more for you on that front in the coming week, so until then, I turn the biggest final grade over to you lot. If you’re curious, I’ll likely go with a B or a B+.

Poll

How would you grade the Bucks‘ performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A+
    (2 votes)
  • 11%
    A
    (45 votes)
  • 34%
    A-
    (139 votes)
  • 28%
    B+
    (114 votes)
  • 16%
    B
    (65 votes)
  • 6%
    B-
    (27 votes)
  • 1%
    C+
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    C-
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    D+
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    D-
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    F
    (0 votes)
405 votes total Vote Now

What made you pick the individual grades you chose? Let me know in the comments below.