The Milwaukee Bucks impressed with a stellar performance and a win on Saturday night, but how do their performances grade overall?
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Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
We’re just six games into the 2016-17 season, but the Milwaukee Bucks are above .500 and rolling with a win streak.
Whether it’s a result of a soft schedule or not, we’ll only learn in time, but what we do know for sure is the young Bucks are looking increasingly confident and that can only be a good thing as the quality of opponents ramps up.
For the third game in a row, Milwaukee looked exceptionally well-rounded, getting contributions from a whole host of players and simply leaving their opponents with no real answers.
How did the Bucks players who took to the floor grade individually though? What role did Jason Kidd play in his team’s success, and what kind of grade did the opposing Sacramento Kings deserve? Well, let’s get down to it and find out.
After a poor showing in terms of turnovers in Milwaukee’s previous outing, this was a return to the much more controlled version of Delly who has impressed early in the season. With his offense built around what he has proven he can do, a couple of three-pointers and a pair of floaters quickly tallied up to a low-key 10 points. Only two turnovers was an important improvement, and although it would be nice to see more than the four assists he had on this occasion, the Australian’s effort is always consistent.
A tougher shooting night for Snell, but the fact is that his contribution to the Bucks of late has been about much more than the numbers he’s been producing. The insertion of Snell into the starting lineup has given the Bucks a much more coherent shape and made almost all of his teammates appear more comfortable in their own roles. Although Snell will be disappointed with only one make from his six attempts on this occasion, his six rebounds helped to buoy the Bucks in what was once an area of weakness.
The only real negative that can be levelled at Giannis in recent games is that his turnovers are a little high (four on this occasion), but otherwise, it’s been quite the show-stopping start to the season for the Greek Freak. In spite of only playing 25 minutes in this one, Giannis tormented the Kings, threatened a triple-double and rolled off highlight after highlight. His pin block before going end to end and dishing to Plumlee seems like a play we’ll all remember for a long time to come, but then again at the rate Giannis executes incredible plays it could be usurped within a few days.
For the second straight game it was near impossible to be anything but impressed with Jabari. Although this game didn’t include a three-point barrage like Thursday’s against Indiana did, Parker offered a great scoring outburst in relatively limited minutes. Major Cat’s 19 points weren’t the only noteworthy detail of Parker’s night by any means though. Jabari showed good defensive effort as he continues to learn on that end of the floor, and was rewarded with four steals. Those steals led to a host of fastbreak highlights with Giannis that topped off an impressive night all around.
Miles Plumlee‘s play wasn’t particularly thrilling in this one, but the discussion of his production has moved to the back burner as the Bucks have clicked into gear. Plumlee showed good energy, as you’d expect, and converted the opportunities that came his way. Having ultimately been signed to be a background figure who could help get the best out of Giannis and Jabari, almost by staying out of the way, there’s nothing wrong with Plums producing a quiet but steady showing in a Bucks win where the young stars shined.
The Kings’ game will be remembered as the night when Mirza Teletovic went nuclear. The Bosnian veteran was brought in to be a gunner from distance, and he certainly held up his end of the bargain on Saturday. Teletovic attempted nine shots, all from behind the arc, and made a remarkable seven of those attempts. A quickfire burst from Mirza allowed the Bucks to really kick on with the lead and ensured the Kings were far away in the distance for almost all of the second half. There’ll be good nights and bad nights with him, but if the highs are this good it should all be worth it.
It’s a testament to just how good Moose has played recently that it felt a little strange seeing him act as little more than a peripheral figure in this game. Monroe logged the lowest minutes total of all three centers on Saturday, but was still relatively effective when he did take to the court. Scoring and rebounds are expected from Moose, but it’s the fact that he continued his streak of assists, steals and blocks that should be really exciting for Bucks fans after this one.
In only his sixth game as a professional, Malcolm Brogdon led the Bucks in minutes on Saturday. The rookie continued to look perfectly at home on an NBA court, and even though his shot didn’t fall as it has in other recent games, Brogdon had no difficulty contributing in other areas. Six rebounds and five assists act as proof that Brogdon was active throughout, although the box score can’t do testament to the measured, intelligent effort that Brogdon maintains throughout on defense either.
It’s hard to have any complaints with Beasley on a night like this one. Notching 10 points and four rebounds in only 16 minutes of play on 50 percent shooting is good by anyone’s measure, and the sort of activity the Bucks missed out on at the forward spots on their bench last year. Were there bad moments and face palms after questionable shots, of course there were. Does it really matter if he can help to keep the bench afloat when the starters take a seat? The early indications suggest it doesn’t.
After a DNP last time out, John Henson returned to action and managed to avoid finding himself involved in any Matt Barnes/Boogie Cousins related fireworks. Rebounding has often been something of an achilles heel for Hook over the years, but four rebounds in this one saw the big maintain the kind of solid efforts on the glass that he’d displayed in Milwaukee’s opening few games. Center by committee is an idea that will take everyone some time to get used to, but Henson, Plumlee and Monroe shared in the load pretty evenly in this outing.
Maybe it’s no fluke. Maybe Rashad Vaughn really has figured something out. For a “shooter” who couldn’t shoot as a rookie, the headlines would be naturally drawn to a 4-8 showing from distance, but there’s another aspect of Vaughn’s game that has been equally impressive in the early running. Vaughn is engaged on defense and showing good instincts, particularly when it comes to blocking shots. Vaughn had two rejections in this one, and is now averaging 1.4 blocks per 36. What a nice turnaround.
After an incredible introduction with back-to-back three-pointers on Thursday, another blowout win meant that Maker was granted extended minutes in this one. A smooth mid-range jumper acted as further evidence of the shooting touch that the Australian flashed with his first NBA buckets, but Maker’s length paid off in other ways for Milwaukee too. In just nine minutes on the floor, Maker grabbed six rebounds, something which should encourage the Bucks considering concerns over how he’d hold his own inside.
Four minutes of action in this one saw Steve Novak‘s career as a Bucks player edge its way up into the heady territory of 24 total minutes on Saturday. Novak did very little in his time on the floor, with his only noteworthy involvement coming with an open three-point attempt that he unfortunately missed. If Novak’s in the game the Bucks are likely winning by a lot though, so let’s hope for more of him soon.
Sticking with the philosophy of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, the general shape of Kidd’s rotation once again held a familiar look to it on Saturday. If the Bucks have managed to figure out an approach and a rotation that reliably works for them this early in the season, that’s a very good thing too. Kidd managed to get Jabari and Giannis plenty of rest heading into a SEGABABA in Dallas on Sunday, and has generally done a good job of giving everyone a chance to show what they can do so far. Milwaukee’s best players were always going to do what they were going to do, but Kidd’s approach with the likes of Rashad Vaughn and Malcolm Brogdon is certainly paying off. Another good night.
This is a much improved Kings team who seem to come at games with a very different attitude this season, but in the end none of that really mattered. Sacramento just had no answer for Giannis and Jabari, and once Mirza Teletovic started firing from distance, picking their poison became an almost impossible decision to make. There’s more fight in this Kings team than there has been for a while, as shown by a second unit that didn’t fold thanks to a strong contribution from Garrett Temple, but on a night when the Bucks shoot well and Giannis and Jabari are feeling good, there’ll be better teams than Sacramento left searching for answers throughout the years.