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Milwaukee Bucks Weekly Wednesday Wrap-up

Brook...the passer!

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I hoped for a perfect 4-0 week for the Milwaukee Bucks, even with an altitudinal back-to-back on the schedule, but alas, a stinker in Denver didn’t go Milwaukee’s way. But this team remains the NBA’s best in terms of record, with a decent shot at the number one seed to enjoy the playoffs through the friendly Fiserv confines. They’ve got a bit more work to do, but it’d be nice to wrap that up as soon as possible. Speaking of, let’s wrap up.

The Week that Was

A pair of dominating blowouts against the dregs of the league got the week off to a swell start. Even with Mamu coming back under the tutelage of a coach who barely knows his name, the Bucks wasted no time decimating a potential Wemby destination. As for the Jazz game, coach Will Hardy summed it up well.

The Denver game can be chalked up to a SEGABABA, but I actually came away pretty encouraged by how Milwaukee played. With no threes falling in the second half, of course their offensive flow is going to look stilted; and it’s not an easy ask for a team playing a second night of a back-to-back to attack the basket relentlessly as a substitute. That, coupled with Bud trusting Brook to play Jokic one-on-one was enough of a positive first blow for me. Detroit gave the Bucks all they could handle, and both teams were shorthanded. The Pistons are going to be infinitely more watchable in the years ahead than they have been the first few Bud years.

Weekly Wondering

I’ve waxed Broetic about Brook Lopez a lot in this recurring column, and I’m not going to stop now. What this man is doing this season at 34 years old is ridiculous. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Brook is one of the most amazing, incredible, improbable evolutionary player stories in the history of the NBA...

Yes, I’m talking about Lopez becoming a generous, willing passer. Just take a look at this chart below, which includes how many field goal attempts teammates have taken off Brook passes this season vs. 2020-21, his last full season.

Brook Lopez Passing

Season Games Passes to Teammates FGA off Passes 2FGA 3FGA
Season Games Passes to Teammates FGA off Passes 2FGA 3FGA
2020-21 70 1192 274 168 106
2022-23 73 1498 436 257 179

Now, if you go back to 2019-20, these figures aren’t all that far off from them, but Milwaukee also dramatically remade its team and offense when they added Jrue Holiday into the mix. Out went pure 5-out, in came the dunker spot. One of the reasons this particular change has caught my eye this season is plays just like this.

Or the Brook hustle play you’re going to see again below.

It’s not just that Lopez is being weaponized more in the pick-and-roll, it’s that he’s taken that growing confidence and rapport with the likes of Joe Ingles and now building off of it. He’s slipping way more shovel passes to someone in the dunker or a cutter than I ever anecdotally remember before, and it’s only added to the increased dynamism of this Bucks offense this season.

I fully understand the offense may fall apart in the playoffs, but I also believe they have a wealth of additional wrinkles to throw at teams they may not have in the past. Adding this into Lopez’s arsenal is just another tool at Bud’s disposal. The numbers don’t way Brook is shooting more from the midrange or rim than year’s past, but it certainly feels like the way Milwaukee is using him is. It’s not “toss it into the big fella and let him back it down” like it was in the nascent days of Bud remembering, “hey, you’re big.” He’s in the 80th percentile in terms of efficiency as a roll man in the league, his best mark in Milwaukee.

The fact he’s already evolving past simply finishing, taking off the blinders and spotting teammates, has contributed to a pass-happy ecosystem that’s trickling down to even the biggest man on the roster.

Plays of the Week

I actually had a bunch more from the Pistons game I thought about including here, but I chalked up some of the ball movement in that game to Detroit’s apathetic defensive approach. Still, I had one sequence that stood out among a few other fun ones this week.

The Jrue

Is there anything better than the anticipatory bodying + steal move that Jrue pulls off. How many players have a signature defensive play in this league? I guess Marcus Smart has the flop...regardless, the Giannis dunk on the other end of this is plain-jane, but what Holiday does to start it is delightful.

Brook Hustle

As discussed above, Brook is just having a phenomenal year in ways we haven’t seen while he’s been in Milwaukee. Giannis gambles strongly near the logo, allowing Kelly Olynyk a free path to the basket. With Lopez still ambling back, he recognizes his teammate lost the plot and is more than willing to hustle back and clean up that mess at the rim. After the miss, as he trudges up the court, Ingles gives him the ball much earlier than he normally would as a trailer. Instead of lofting up a three, he keeps the dribble alive, reads Grayson cutting baseline and shovels off a pass for the finish.

Giannis on Both Ends

We didn’t get to see too much of Giannis matched up on Jokic, and with good reason given the pounding that Brook Lopez took in just 19 minutes on the court before he got all his foul calls. I could see this play resulting in a foul pretty often for Giannis, but it’s a testament to his length and commitment to keep pushing the envelope he can strip the plodding Euro so nimbly before navigating defenders on the other end for the slam.

Just a Tad Extra Effort

Khris Middleton needed to be a better Khris Middleton on Saturday against Denver. Given he had Friday off, I expected him to be able to carry the team for a bit, but 13 points ain’t gonna cut it. Still, this is a fine example of how not giving up after a first effort produced so many prolific possessions in the initial half of that game. He comes off the Lopez screen and is immediately corralled by Jokic, so he skips it out to Ingles, who makes himself available in the corner. Joe, ever the generous one, doesn’t wait, but skips it back to Khris who keeps himself moving back to the perimeter.

Bruce Brown has to recover out for the threat of a pull-up, and Khris seizes his chance to penetrate against an off-kilter defender and Brook prepares himself for the lob.


S/O Frank Madden for nicknaming this play (sorry Kane), and I just can’t get enough of these two connecting. There’s nothing even special about this one, it’s just pitch-perfect drawing the defender high enough on the floor, nobody tags the roll man and Jaden Ivey makes a business decision at the rim.


Mar. 29: The Play of the Week is...

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    The Jrue
    (8 votes)
  • 26%
    Brook Hustle
    (18 votes)
  • 26%
    Giannis on Both Ends
    (18 votes)
  • 5%
    Just a Tad Extra Effort
    (4 votes)
  • 29%
    (20 votes)
68 votes total Vote Now

That’ll do it for the penultimate weekly wrap-up of the season!