Unlike in most of Milwaukee’s Giannis-heavy gameplay in recent weeks, the last few games saw the supporting cast step up more than they have in seemingly months. Notably, Jrue Holiday showed as a lead scorer and Joe Ingles as a primary initiator, but nearly every other Buck had quality moments this week. This would feel a lot more encouraging paired with typically-dominant play from Giannis or... well, anything from Khris Middleton (though we may get our wish soon), but the little things are all we have right now. If nothing else, since Monday there are more palpable signs of this team firing on all cylinders than there were in the preceding two or three weeks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: C+ (last week: A)
3 GP, 31.1 MPG, .344/.200/.556, 12.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.7 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG
I’ve hardly given a lower grade to Giannis, and though it appeared he banged up his knee early in the Hawks matchup, he showed a marked drop in aggressiveness this week. I can tell he’s making a concerted effort to involve teammates more by creating opportunities for them, there are still times he needs to lead this team, like down the stretch of a tight game. Uncharacteristically passing out of single coverage provided by Frank Kaminsky was one such moment as Atlanta nearly snatched away a win. Last Friday’s dud was just bizarre. After a decent stretch at the foul line, his overall shooting took a major hit this week too.
Jrue Holiday: A (last week: C)
4 GP, 30.3 MPG, .481/.462/.875, 19.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 7.3 APG, 2.3 TPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
More than anyone, Holiday carried the Bucks to two (nearly three) victories with some serious shooting swag. He’s someone that dials his own number often, but this week I don’t think he was stepping into any higher volume than he usually does. With how sweet his shot looks, I can’t blame him. As can happen, his defense was a bit underwhelming during shifts on Jalen Brunson and rising Buck-killer Gabe Vincent, but he bottled up Dejounte Murray while dropping 27 on 21 shots, so he proved he’s still capable of being a featured scorer and top on-ball stopper on the same night. Just not every night.
Brook Lopez: B+ (last week: B+)
4 GP, 28.8 MPG, .435/.400/.500, 13.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.8 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Thursday’s weak stat line ruined what was otherwise a pretty great week for Lopez, and he struggled with a hobbled Bam Adebayo, a player who Lopez notably torments. Opponents outscored the Bucks in the paint each game this week, and while that’s not all on him, Lopez should better contain the Mason Plumlees and Kaminskys of the league. His outside shooting—especially a key trey late on Wednesday—covered up some of those blemishes.
Grayson Allen: B+ (last week: B-)
3 GP, 21.1 MPG, .588/.714/1.000, 9.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG
After spraining his ankle coming down from an impressive alley-oop, Allen might see another game or two off. This is unfortunate because—even with a drop in attempts—he might be shaking off his shooting slump after hitting 7 of his last 12 from behind the arc since his 1/7 performance ten days ago. He was only 3/6 at the rim despite a couple of impressive finishes, so the balance helps.
Pat Connaughton: C (last week: C+)
4 GP, 27.1 MPG, .371/.286/.333, 8.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Just when it looked like he was getting off his own schneid from deep, Connaughton struggled on high volume for long stretches of action this week as a starter. His work on the defensive glass was an underrated part of each W, but while that’s his most important secondary skill, it’s not why he’s playing so much. Many of his looks are quality ones, so one hopes they’ll start falling with the regularity we’re used to by the postseason. Otherwise, he may need to go see Noah.
Bobby Portis: B+ (last week: B)
4 GP, 24.6 MPG, .590/.444/.667, 13.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 TPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
In one of Portis’ more prolific shooting weeks, he looked really disengaged defensively at times and committed some bad turnovers with lackadaisical ball control. Kind of an odd confluence of gameplay for someone who’s been nice and consistent this year, if off from three for much of the first half. His short-midrange game remains strong and a key part of an underwhelming offense, so if he can lock in a bit more on the other end, he’ll be more than the surprisingly neutral contributor he ended up as this week.
Jevon Carter: B- (last week: C-)
4 GP, 21.9 MPG, .351/.387/.500, 9.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 TPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Where do I start with Carter? Despite not lacking in confidence, his jumper seemed pretty busted for the better part of a month. Some huge threes in Atlanta really gave him a shot in the arm, for better or for worse. One night later, it seemed like the former at points given his hot start from downtown in the first half, but he went into chucker mode as the game went on. Yes, it’s nice to see him drain one or two runners in transition, but at the cost of what to his teammates? It verges on the oft-defined “turnover” of a Giannis three-point attempt. His shot selection needs to be better, and he needs to focus on spotting up more as an end to possessions with lots of ball movement, not dialing his own number when the stars sit. He didn’t distinguish himself too much on Vincent either, as even his pestering on-ball defense wasn’t enough to cool Vincent off and he struggled to get over screens set by Heat bigs.
Joe Ingles: B+ (last week: B)
3 GP, 23.2 MPG, .407/.381/.000, 10.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.3 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
As each game goes by, Ingles looks more and more like a keeper. Monday was his finest effort as a Buck, reminiscent of the coming-out party he had against Minnesota two weeks ago. His turnovers are subsiding as teammates become more accustomed to his passing, especially in the pick & roll. Speaking of which, he already has a lot of chemistry in that regard with Giannis, and that pairing could make a major difference come playoff time.
MarJon Beauchamp: B (last week: B-)
4 GP, 18.5 MPG, .333/.250/1.000, 5.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.8 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Though he followed up two fine outings by being a non-factor in South Beach, Beauchamp hit some key shots early in games and looked positively great as a passer. Not just for being a rookie either. As each game passes, his offensive effectiveness grows, as does Mike Budenholzer’s confidence in him. Before I declare him a real postseason rotation option, though, I want to see him work alongside Middleton and one of Giannis/Holiday.
Jordan Nwora: B+ (last week: D+)
2 GP, 19.6 MPG, .500/.556/.000, 9.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.5 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG
It looked like Nwora was nearly at the bottom of the bench after entering in the fourth quarter of the Hornets debacle, appearing as something of a white flag. Then on Thursday, he came alive in the third quarter as the shorthanded Bucks clawed to remain competitive with his best shooting effort since early December. As a potential trade piece, it’s nice to see he can still turn it on.
George Hill: B (last week: incomplete)
1 GP, 12 MIN, 1.000/1.000/.000, 5 PTS, 2 REB, 3 AST, 0 TOV, 1 STL, 0 BLK
Apparently, Hill’s recent bout with a non-COVID illness cost him 10–15 pounds. It follows that his only action was garbage time last Friday as he probably is still not quite ready for rotation action in terms of conditioning.
Sandro Mamukelashvili: C- (last week: D+)
1 GP, 17 MIN, .500/.000/.000, 2 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 1 TOV, 1 STL, 0 BLK
Unfortunately, Mamu hasn’t distinguished himself too much in the little action he’s seen amid recent frontcourt absences or foul trouble. As the team gets healthier, and if Serge Ibaka remains in Milwaukee, it’s probably time for him to get more serious run in Oshkosh.
A.J. Green: B+ (last week: C+)
2 GP, 14.2 MPG, .524/.474/.000, 10.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.0 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Another week, another career high for Green, who looks increasingly comfortable within an NBA offense. His minutes are preserving vets like Hill and Matthews for future action that’s more consequential than early January, but he’s generally doing a good job with them, at least on one end. Until he shows anything defensively, this is the most work he should get.
Mike Budenholzer: B- (last week: B)
2-2 W-L, 111.2 ORtg (20th), 115.9 DRtg (19th), -4.7 NetRtg (23rd)
Taking what Miami and New York gave the Bucks, they launched up oodles of threes with few defenders nearby. Shooting 39.1% from distance this week, the strategy largely worked, especially with the Heat shutting down the interior last night and Giannis’ current deferential streak. The offensive rating isn’t really rising because things have flipped on their heads a bit: as mentioned, the Bucks are being outscored in the paint regularly lately, with only Portis providing much inside. From the eye test, the offense at least looks better at times with fewer turnovers. As usual, Bud is making do with the players he has available, but he’s finding some real success with Ingles-led lineups. With just three games in the week ahead but a back-to-back at home, I’m wondering if Ingles might see his first SEGABABA.
Incomplete: Thanasis Antetokounmpo (1 GP, 9 MIN), Wesley Matthews (1 GP, 9 MIN), Serge Ibaka (DNP), Khris Middleton (injured)
I believe Middleton will finally play in the days ahead, and some decent rest for Giannis during each of this week’s losses should only help his knee and fatigue. Holiday is carrying this team right now—not a bad thing given Giannis’ previous workload—so how does he fare should his role lessen? Will Connaughton reconcile his volume with his recent accuracy? How will Ingles fit alongside Middleton in what will probably be short bursts? Most importantly, can Giannis balance scoring and marshaling this offense while continuing to put his teammates in good spots as he has been?
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.