With two-thirds of the roster born in 1990 or later, the Milwaukee Bucks are a young, growing team. Every Thursday for the rest of the season, FOX Sports Wisconsin will take a closer look at the players that are 25 years old and younger (for the most part, those still in their first four NBA seasons), measuring, highlighting and evaluating their progress.
This is the final edition of the 2016-17 Young Bucks Tracker.
Summary: Antetokounmpo truly had a historical season, in terms of stats. He’s just the fifth player since 1973-74 to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks and was the first — ever! — to finish in the top-five in the league in each of those categories. His PER was the fifth best in franchise history while his VORP was third best (the only player ahead of Antetokounmpo is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Antetokounmpo got better in every statistical category, setting career highs in minutes per game, points, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage … just go down the list and he did it. The exception would be 3-point shooting (although it was an improvement over the last two seasons) as a consistent outside shot remains a work in progress. Still, let’s not nitpick. And also keep in mind he’s only 22 (and did all of this while making “only” just under $3 million this season; his big contract extension kicks in next year). The Greek Freak, indeed.
Summary: A back injury which sidelined Brogdon for a handful of games at the end of the season shouldn’t put a damper on the rookie’s accomplishments, which should net him the Rookie of the Year Award. A second-round pick (no second-round has won the Rookie of the Year since Willis Reed in 1965, albeit he was the No. 8 overall selection), Brogdon quickly became a key part of Milwaukee’s rotation. Of his 75 games, he played 20+ minutes in all but nine and under 15 in just two. After the All-Star break, Brogdon averaged 28.8 minutes, 12.5 points, 4.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 90.6 percent from the line. As good as Giannis was this season, it’s hard to imagine the Bucks in the playoffs without Brogdon’s contribution.
Summary: While Brogdon got thrown into the mix right off the bat, Maker’s progress has been more the slow and steady route. Maker played in 30 games before the All-Star break with 25 DNPs. After the break, Maker played in every game, averaging 12.7 minutes, 4.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. He struggled with his shot as the season — and increase in playing time — went on, but you saw glimpses of the raw ability which made him a first-round pick, including a 23-point game on March 31, 12-point, five-rebound and three-block performance on Feb. 1 and even in the regular-season finale, when he posted nine points, six boards, three assists and three blocks. It will be interesting to see what kind of progress he can make next season. More one-on-one time with Kevin Garnett wouldn’t hurt, either.
Summary: Clearly, Middleton wasn’t the same player he was last season, but his numbers were impressive — and his field-goal percentage and 3 percentage were better than in 2015-16 — after missing 2/3 of the season due tearing his hamstring before the start of training camp. Middleton in the lineup made a big difference to the Bucks. They were 19-10 when Middleton played and 17-6 with him in the starting lineup (and two of those losses were his first two games back when he played limited minutes as a reserve). Looking ahead, having a healthy Middleton in 2017-18 should have Milwaukee fans drooling at the Bucks’ possibilities.
Summary: Parker was playing like an All-Star, posting career-best numbers, when he went down with another torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Parker added 3-point shooting to his game this past season. After making 13 3s combined in his first 101 games, Parker hit 65 in 51 games this season before being hurt. Now the question will be can Parker get back to this level again and how long will it take?
Summary: Payton played in only six games, so this is quite the small sample size. But based off that we could say that he needs to work on his offensive game, but at just 6-foot-3 is a pretty impressive rebounder (he had seven against Boston in the season finale. He also had four blocks, which equates to a 3.6 percent block percentage — Antetokounmpo was at 4.7 percent and Maker 4.1 percent, for reference. With Milwaukee having a D-League next season it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Payton sent there to see if he can work on his game and perhaps eventually join the Bucks’ bench squad.
Summary: The swap with Chicago of Snell for Michael Carter-Williams certainly ended up as a “win” for the Bucks. Snell, who started all 80 games he played, was a legitimate 3-point threat. Since Jan. 6, Snell has made 46.6 percent of his 3 attempts, the second-best rate over that span in the NBA with a minimum of 100 attempts. Snell hit a career-high six 3s on Dec. 26 and had a career-high 26 points (on 10-of-14 shooting) on March 28, one of his three 20+-point games this season. Snell will be a free agent next season.
Notable: The highlights for the second-year guard were few this season — 22 points on Oct. 29 when he made six 3-pointers. A 14-point game on Nov. 5 (5-of-9 shooting including 4 of 8 from 3) and the season finale when he had 14 points and four assists. But there were a lot of DNPs and times Vaughn was inactive as well as a short stint in the D-League. A shooting guard, Vaughn needs to be more consistent to be a valuable part of the rotation. Since the beginning of the shot clock era (1955), seven players have appeared in 100+ games and have a field-goal percentage of 33.0 percent or lower. Three of those played in the 1950s. Vaughn (32.7 percent in 111 games) is one of the other four along with Nikoloz Tskitishvili (.304, 172 games from 2003-06), Donny Marshall (.321 in 119 games from 1996-2003) and William Avery (.330 in 142 games from 2000-02). Vaughn is only 20, so there’s still time. But he’s in danger of being boxed out.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
PER — Player Efficiency Rating:A measure of per-minute production standardized such that the league average is 15.
TS% — True Shooting Percentage:A measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.
USG% — Usage Percentage:An estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor.
ORtg — Offensive Rating:An estimate of points produced per 100 possessions.
DRtg — Defensive Rating:An estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions.
VORP — Value over Replacement Player:A box score estimate of the points per 100 TEAM possessions that a player contributed above a replacement-level (-2.0) player, translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season.