The beauty of a well-timed piece like this where I pour through the “data” and “analyze” the “findings” is not so much any actual insights found. Rather, it is worthy of review merely because it’s funny.
Earlier this week, our overlords at SBN asked those staffs they hadn’t already summarily dismissed to run a few polls among their readerships. Some context to the results: You, the legendary readership of Brew Hoop (née BrewHoop, née Brewhoop) were asked to answer a few questions pertaining to the state of the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, April 18th. We were smarting from a lackluster game one showing against the Miami Heat, the lasting effects of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s busted butt were not yet clear, and we were as yet unaware that Pat Connaughton was not merely alive, but also still on the team. So when you read the results and go “huh”, please note that Wednesday’s redemptive game two victory had not yet occurred as the votes poured in.
Without further ado, let’s get to the laughs.
We shall begin with the two questions posed to you Bucks fans before moving on to results from the rest of SBN’s remaining readership.
First, you were asked which Buck should be Jimmy Butler’s primary defender. The final result was extremely close — a single percentage point separated the top two vote-getters – but there’s no need to don your storming best! Jrue Holiday got the nod over Giannis:
Butler still led all Heat scorers with 25 points off 8-12 from the floor, 2-4 from three, and 7-10 from the line; noteworthy, though, is the sheer drop off in shot attempts and assist creation from game one. He went from 27 attempts and 11 assists to the above 12 and 3 assists. Yes, he played 14 fewer minutes, but Milwaukee’s defensive approach emphasized much more aggressive ball denial and off-ball contact on Butler to avoid the blow-by opportunities handed to him over and over in game one. It takes a team effort to keep an opponent’s primary offensive option bottled up, and Butler did begin the first quarter a perfect 5-5 from the floor. As the game worn on, however, coach Mike Budenholzer matched Jrue’s minutes to Jimmy’s exactly, and Miami’s shot attempts began to spread out to the likes of Bam Adebayo on the elbow midrange, Victor Oladipo drive jumpers, and Gabe Vincent/Duncan Robinson threes. The credit doesn’t go to Jrue alone, but he did a solid job avoiding the breakdowns we saw in game one.
How about everyone’s favorite whipping boy Grayson Allen? The second question posed to you asked whether you would take Grayson Allen out of the starting lineup (without a follow-up on who you’d slot in instead). Perhaps unsurprisingly, 53% of voters were cool with an Allen demotion:
The two things I’d quibble with here are both related to timing. First, Allen’s game one performance was largely fine; 12 points on 5-7 overall, 2-4 from three, with a few assists. Nothing spectacular, mind you, but almost exactly what you’d hope for from your fifth starter. I’m sympathetic to those unhappy with what he brings on defense, but to be fair to him every Buck was mediocre to bad in that regard after game one. My second quibble is that pulling Allen from the starting lineup so soon – and with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status unclear – would, in my mind, begin to have us veer towards tactical overreaction. Tyler Herro had just broken his hand, so that’s one less active guard for Grayson to lose defensively, and shuffling two starting lineup slots risks instability when what Milwaukee needed most was a simplified gameplan. Bud stuck with Allen and got another solid showing for it with 16 points (5-11 from the floor, 4-8 from three). At the time, we didn’t know whether Pat Connaughton was ever going to play an NBA game as a Buck again, which left Jevon Carter and Goran Dragic (lol) as our guard-y replacement options on the bench. Again, I understand the Grayson chagrin and will happily endorse a demotion when necessary. For now, we have yet to reach that bridge.
Finally, we also have some results from SBN’s general NBA readership. On the mothership, readers were asked whose injury would impact their team the most: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ja Morant, Tyler Herro, or Domantas Sabonis (???). Oh NBA fans, ye of little faith.
The result is likely more indicator of how little attention is paid to Milwaukee than anything else. Giannis does do a lot for the team, but the Bucks are also one of the more thoroughly organized groups in the league. Jrue and Khris Middleton should be expected to fill the scoring load, Brook Lopez’s inside game has reached its peak during his Bucks tenure, and the team had an 11-8 record in games without Giannis during the regular season (and often missing other guys as well). Not blowing the doors off opponents by any means, but not a shambles. Compare that to Memphis’s 11-10 without Ja, Miami’s cliff-like offensive drop off past Herro, and the fact that I didn’t even know Sabonis was “injured”, and you start wondering at the result.
And last but not least, let’s check in with Wizards fans!
43% of Bullets Forever readers are better basketball fans than me. Also, their options being “meh”, “bad”, and “very bad” are way too good. Here’s to the next lost season!