Jan 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) is congratulated by guard Malcolm Brogdon (13) after scoring the game winning basket at the buzzer against New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Bucks won 105-104. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Article continues below ...
The Milwaukee Bucks had a rough go of it in week 15. They lost two out of three games and once again failed to make up ground in the playoff picture. Three Bucks played well amid the turmoil and earned some recognition.
The Milwaukee Bucks struggled once again in week 15. In the last three weeks the Bucks have participated in 12 games. They have won just two of those games.
In week 15 the Bucks lost their first two games against the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets. But they finished up the week with a seemingly rare victory, getting a win over the Phoenix Suns.
Three weeks of poor play have somehow not totally knocked Milwaukee out of playoff positioning. The Bucks are currently one game out of the eighth seed and three games back from the seventh seed.
No one wants to be the eighth seed and see LeBron James and company in round one of the playoffs. The other top teams in the East don’t seem nearly as unstoppable, however, and the Bucks could put themselves in a situation where an upset wouldn’t be unthinkable.
The players didn’t struggle as much as they did in the past few weeks. For example, over the past three games, seven Bucks attempted six or more shots per game. Only one of those guys made less than 50 percent of their attempts.
Even though the individuals picked up their games in some respects this week, the final scores in each game proved that the team still has a lot to work on. Milwaukee was unable to win games it needed to in order to help its ultimate goal, making the playoffs. The more losses that mount, the more painful losses in must-win games become for the Bucks.
Luckily for us, this is a piece that dissects individual player performances and rewards those who did it right. And there were a lot of Bucks who did some nice things that they could hang their hat on in week 15:
And last but certainly not least, Thon Maker averaged 1.7 made threes and 1.3 blocks in less than 11 minutes per game!
Each Buck had something going right. But when the losses outnumber the wins, each Buck is also going to have their own share of struggles. That made it particularly difficult to parse out the top three players of the week.
Let’s get to the ranking and see who did what was necessary to separate themselves from the pack!
Jan 6, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon (13) during the game against the New York Knicks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. New York won 116-111. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Bucks Player of the Week Rankings
The President played in all three games this week and averaged 26.8 minutes, 10.0 points (on 52.2 percent shooting), 3.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.7 steals per game. He led the team in steals and was third in assists. Additionally, he had the third best plus/minus on the team at +5.7.
Malcolm Brogdon was good this week. He did quite a few things well and played like an elite rookie point guard. No rookie averaged more assists or more steals than Brogdon did over their past three games. Additionally, Thon Maker was the only rookie to attempt a minimum of one three-pointer per game and make a better percentage of threes than Malcolm Brogdon. Floor spacing issues will soon become a thing of the past in Milwaukee!
When Brogdon is on the court the Bucks tend to do very well. Over the course of the season, he has the third best plus/minus on the team. When John Hammond said the Bucks were adding a veteran to the team while talking about drafting Brogdon he turned out to be emphatically right.
Malcolm always compares well with his fellow rookies but this week he even compares well with some of the more seasoned NBA guards. Brogdon was one of only six players to average at least four assists and two steals over their past three games. The other guys on that list are Stephen Curry, John Wall, Marcus Smart, James Harden, and Brandon Jennings. Sans Smart and Jennings those are the upper echelon of guards in the NBA right now.
Even though Brogdon has the game of a point guard he rarely siphons opportunities from Milwaukee’s more established point guards, Giannis and Delly. Both of those guys had more assists per game than Brogdon this week. Malcolm is so smart, he knows when to be the lead facilitator and when to play an off ball role. His offensive basketball IQ is off the charts for a rookie.
Defensively, he was just as effective. Only six NBA players had more steals this week than Humble Moses. Brogdon knows where to position himself and he has great instincts and fast hands to take the ball away when the offensive player is being a tad careless.
Overall, this was a mighty fine week for Malcolm. He didn’t do anything so noteworthy that anyone will really take notice, but he impacted the game positively on both ends of the floor and played like a guy with 10 years more NBA experience. Many Bucks performed well this week but only two outdid Brogdon.
Feb 3, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) drives to the basket against Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) during the first half at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Bucks Player of the Week Rankings
Major Cat played in all three games this week and averaged 32.5 minutes, 20.7 points (on 54.8 percent shooting), 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 block per game. He led the team in rebounds, was tied for the lead in points, and tied for third in steals.
This was the version of Jabari Parker the Bucks need, besides the poor three-point shooting. Parker scored effectively, rebounded often, and provided a bit of defense in the form of both steals and blocks. In fact, if Parker could have shot a bit better percentage from outside he would have stolen player of the week honors from Giannis.
Parker might have just compiled his most complete week of the season. He delivered well-rounded basketball performances that provided 2014 draft evaluators with evidence that they know what they are doing. As a prospect Parker was supposed to be able to do two things well: score and rebound.
He did both of those things very well in week 15. Only six players in the NBA, including Jabari, were able to maintain averages of 20 points and 9 rebounds over their past three games. Nine rebounds per game might be a bit high for Jabari going forward but he could easily hover around the 7.5-8.5 rebound range for his career. Pair that with elite scoring totals and he will be a consistent participant in the NBA All-Star game in the years to come.
Get this – only DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Jabari Parker averaged at least 20 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block per game this week. That’s some elite company for the third year pro out of Duke. Parker can maintain this company too, this isn’t just a one week fluke.
The points are the easiest part for Parker. The rebounds have been the hardest to come by for him so far in his career. The defense has been surprisingly solid for Parker this season. He hasn’t been elite but he has hovered around average and has had a plethora of games where he performs above average on defense.
This week wasn’t Parker’s best defensively but his counting stats were nice. The benefit he gives by forcing a steal here and a block there is enough to help the Bucks, especially given the fact that they aren’t expecting much contribution from him on that end of the floor anyway.
Jabari deserved to be the best player on the Bucks this week. He got edged out by a Freak, and there is absolutely no shame in that. Parker is getting better all the time. In the past couple of weeks he has upped his assist totals. This week he bumped up his rebounding. He has been able to do all this while scoring at a solid clip. If he can keep this going he will continue to give Giannis a run for his money.
Feb 4, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots over Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Bucks won 137-112. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Bucks Player of the Week Rankings
The Greek Freak played in all three games this week and averaged 35.9 minutes, 20.7 points (on 53.5 percent shooting), 8.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 2.0 blocks per game. He was tied for the lead in points, was second in rebounds, assists, and blocks, and was tied for third in steals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finally had some competition for the top spot. In a week where he did not outright lead a single statistically category for the first time this season, he was finally vulnerable. But Jabari couldn’t take advantage. Giannis was just a bit too good once again and snuck out of week 15 with the fictitious trophy.
The reason Antetokounmpo was player of the week for the 14th time in 15 tries was because he kept pace with Parker in terms of points, rebounds, steals, free throw attempts, and shooting percentage but totally pulled away from Parker in terms of assists and blocks.
Though he was once again the best player on the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis had a down week. He was below his season averages in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. But, like last week, even in a down week Antetokounmpo was fantastic. Here is how he compares to some of his peers on a per game basis over the past three games:
21 players averaged at least 6 free throw attempts and shot 75 percent from the line.
17 players averaged at least 20 points and shot 50 percent from the field.
15 players averaged at least 20 points and 5 assists.
Eight players averaged at least 20 points and 8 rebounds.
Seven players averaged at least 1 steal and 2 blocks.
Six players averaged at least 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Three players averaged at least 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
One player averaged at least 20, 8, 5, 1, and 2.
Giannis, like always, finds a way to do something that only the league’s elite, if anyone, can match. His versatility is unparalleled in the NBA today. Even when players are filling up stat sheets at unprecedented rates, Antetokounmpo still finds a way to be completely unique.
Giannis has become a block machine in his fourth year in the league. He is one of only seven players in the league to average a minimum of two blocks per game. He is the only point guard on that list. But he is also the only point guard approaching seven feet tall. Regardless, there are a bevy of seven footers who fail to register even just one block per game.
The blocks might be the most energizing contribution Giannis provides to the Bucks. His swats totally mitigate an opposing team’s momentum and if they occur at home they are a catalyst to a rowdy crowd at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
No matter how well or poorly he plays, his shot-blocking and shot-altering skills seem to join him every game. It makes the Bucks significantly better defensively, even though the win column doesn’t always show it.
All of Antetokounmpo’s statistics were pretty pedestrian in week 15. Pedestrian in the 6’11” elite athlete with fantastic basketball IQ, impressive scoring abilities, and an unstoppable gyro-step kind of way. As we have said before, a bad week for the Greek Freak is a career week for even above average NBA players.
Giannis is the Milwaukee Bucks player of the week, player of the season, and potentially player of the millennium. He has a legitimate chance to be the best player in the NBA one day.
Nov 30, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Denver Nuggets center Joffrey Lauvergne (77) grabs a loose ball in front of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Week 15 Wrap Up
The struggle is real for the Milwaukee Bucks. They are having the hardest time beating even the poorest of teams in the NBA. Their schedule isn’t improving anytime soon, as four of their next six games will be ones they are expected to lose.
Luckily for Milwaukee, Khris Middleton will officially return to the fold on Wednesday, February 8th against the Miami Heat. Middleton is almost certainly going to have a deal of rust to work off, but if he can provide the Bucks some instantaneous umph while working off the rust the team might just be able to snap out of this slump and head into the All-Star break with some momentum. That is the Bucks best case scenario right now.
The more likely scenario is that Middleton’s return produces some minor lineup issues for a team that is already not winning. These small issues don’t help swing close games in the Bucks favor and as a result, the team continues losing games to teams they should theoretically beat. The losses add up to large hole and once Middleton gets back to full strength the team is unable to climb out of that hole and into the playoffs.
But just because that scenario is more likely doesn’t mean it is a guarantee. If you don’t believe that you can ask the Atlanta Falcons.
The Milwaukee Bucks season is far from over. Their surprising early season success has cushioned them for the current slump. A strong return from Middleton and the continued growth of Antetokounmpo, Brogdon, and Parker could combine to be the driving force that gets the Bucks into the playoffs and turns them into one of those teams you really don’t want to play.
Tune in next week to see what the future will hold for these Bucks.
Player of the Week Rankings over the course of the season
Giannis Antetokounmpo (14), Michael Beasley (1) Jabari Parker (11), Greg Monroe (3), John Henson (1) Greg Monroe (4), Malcolm Brogdon (4), Jabari Parker (2), Matthew Dellavedova (2), Michael Beasley (2), John Henson (1)