MILWAUKEE — Just how good has the bench been for the Milwaukee Bucks?
Take it as you may, but there are a few stats that say it has been the best in the NBA.
The first stat, which is even listed on the league’s website but isn’t always the greatest measurement of success, is called efficiency and is measured by subtracting field goals missed, free throws missed and turnovers from points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
Milwaukee’s bench has a +33.4 difference in efficiency between their counterparts through five games this season. There’s a wide margin between the Bucks and San Antonio, which is second in the ratings at +18.4.
The Bucks’ bench also leads the league in simpler stats. Milwaukee’s bench is tops in the league at 43.0 points per game, tops in rebounds at 22.0 per game, tops in blocks at 4.2 per game, tops in field goal percentage at 52.4 percent and second in steals at 4.4 per game.
Turnovers are the only stat in which Milwaukee’s bench struggles, settling for 24th in the league at 6.4 per game.
Milwaukee has needed its bench to provide a lift because its starters are dead last in the NBA in efficiency difference at -29.0. The starters are 27th in the NBA at 54.4 points per game, last in the league in rebounding at 19.2 per game and 28th in field goal percentage at 40.6 percent.
Most of the bench success can be credited to the play of forwards Mike Dunleavy and Larry Sanders, as well as guard Beno Udrih.
Even with Saturday’s battle with foul trouble, Dunleavy is averaging 12.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 64.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Sanders has scored in double figures in all five games off the bench after scoring in double figures just three times all of last season.
But it hasn’t just been those three. With Dunleavy having to be on the bench for most of Saturday’s loss and Udrih having an off night, it was guard Marquis Daniels who gave the Bucks a scoring lift off the bench.
Last season, Milwaukee’s bench was third in the league in efficiency difference, mostly thanks to Dunleavy. It was a strength last season, but early on in 2012-13 there are signs that it could be even better.
Ilyasova’s slow start: Bucks coach Scott Skiles has been around Ersan Ilyasova long enough to know how to approach the Turkish forward when he’s struggling.
And right now, he’s struggling with his shot. Ilyasova is shooting just 29.8 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three point land.
“He’s got a lot of movement going on right now,” Skiles said. “Sometimes, not because he isn’t coachable, Ers is very coachable, but the best thing is to leave him alone and let him work his way out of it. He gets in his head a little bit. He’s shooting the ball, his feet are moving, drifting all over the place. He’s just not real solid right now.”