Milwaukee Bucks: Ball Movement Is The Key To Success

The Milwaukee Bucks can either look dominant or dominated on a night-to-night basis. Part of the swing could be how the Bucks play on offense.

It’s pretty well-established now that moving the ball is crucial to a modern, effective NBA offense. The Milwaukee Bucks showcase such an offense fairly often–the Bucks are fourth in team assists per game.

When Milwaukee records at least 24 assists (the amount they average per game), the team is 11-8. When the Bucks tally at least 28 assists, the team is 5-0. The more assists, the better.

The opposite is also true. The Bucks run iso plays at a fairly average rate compared to the rest of the NBA, but they’re uniquely terrible in such looks.

The Bucks score 0.70 points per possession on isos, last by a fairly wide margin. Greg Monroe is the best Buck in those isolation situations–he scores 0.95 points per possession.

That’s not great–it’s the 67th percentile, which means Moose is barely in the top third of the NBA in terms of isolation scoring. Luckily he averages less than one isolation possession per game, meaning at least it doesn’t come up much.

The only Bucks to average more than one iso per game are Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jabari averages 1.7, and Giannis averages 2.9. Those are, largely, wasted possessions.

Giannis scores 0.74 points per possession in isolation, and Jabari scores 0.71. Those marks both rate in the bottom 36 percent of all NBA players.

Both Giannis and Jabari score significantly more points per possession in basically any other play type: transition, spot up shots, post ups, as both pick and roll ball handlers and roll men, and off cuts to the basket.

Although Milwaukee does a good job racking up assists as a team, the Bucks could be even better. The team ranks 25th in passes made per game, meaning the ball could swing around even more.

The good teams in the NBA–even the ones with the superstar players–move the ball. The Golden State Warriors rank first in the NBA in assists once more, by a wide margin. The Dubs probably could just ask Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry to score against their matchup over and over again, but they wouldn’t be the juggernaut that they are without their ball movement.

Golden State scores 1.01 points per possession in isolation, the best mark in the NBA. The Bucks are dead last and they use more of their possessions in isolation.

It’s not an unreasonable amount, but that number could and should be even smaller. Good shots can often become better shots with an extra pass, and that’s how Milwaukee needs to think as an offense to become a more consistent threat on that end.

More passes per game and less isolation situations can only be good for the Milwaukee Bucks offense. Obviously better defense will help as well–turnovers lead to fast breaks, which lead to easy points.

The Bucks can be better in their half-court offense too, especially if they avoid being bogged down in one-on-one scoring situations.

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