Milwaukee Bucks: “Twelve Days of Bucksmas”

With the holiday season upon us, the Milwaukee Bucks have given us fans many things throughout their recent franchise history. Let’s look at some of them in the “Twelve Days of Bucksmas.” (Don’t forget to sing along!)

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“On the first day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

The Bucks selecting Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was one of the major turning points for the franchise in the past few years. Despite making the playoffs the year before, the backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings had hit its end, and the rebuild was bound to start eventually.

To jumpstart said rebuild, the Bucks elected to select the player with the most untapped potential in the entire draft. And now, in his fourth season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis is not only making his case for an All-Star game, but an MVP, DPOY, and MIP.

As you can see below, the Alphabet has increased his scoring, rebounding, and passing numbers in each season along with seeing jumps in free throw and field goal percentages.

Season Age G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% eFG% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
13-14 19 77 23 24.6 2.2 5.4 .414 0.5 1.5 .347 .463 1.8 2.6 .683 4.4 1.9 0.8 0.8 1.6 2.2 6.8
14-15 20 81 71 31.4 4.7 9.6 .491 0.1 0.5 .159 .496 3.2 4.3 .741 6.7 2.6 0.9 1.0 2.1 3.1 12.7
15-16 21 80 79 35.3 6.4 12.7 .506 0.4 1.4 .257 .520 3.7 5.1 .724 7.7 4.3 1.2 1.4 2.6 3.2 16.9
16-17 22 27 27 34.9 8.2 15.8 .520 0.7 2.6 .290 .543 5.7 7.2 .785 9.1 5.8 2.1 2.0 3.1 3.7 22.9
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/23/2016.

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

“On the second day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…two cornerstones and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

Just one year after selecting the Greek Freak, the Milwaukee Bucks were gifted with the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, where they took Jabari Parker, a forward from Duke University. Widely regarded as an NBA-ready talent, Major Cat is now in his third season and really coming into his own in the league.

He suffered an ACL injury (we’ll get there later) just months into his rookie season that derailed that year for him, but he has bounced back with some emphatic dunks since as he shows no signs of his former injury coming back to haunt him.

His defense is still suspect, but nobody can deny that the 21-year-old knows how to put the ball in the basket. Parker is up to over 20 points per game with en effective field goal percentage of 52.4 percent.

On top of his increase in scoring, he has proven that he can be a versatile scorer. Not only is Jabari a fearsome attacker of the basket, he can launch from downtown as well, where is knocking down shots at a 38.4 percent clip this season.

And when you put the Greek Freak and Major Cat on the same squad, those two youngsters make up dynamic cornerstones for the franchise.

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“On the third day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

Although the Bucks have had reasonable success, especially recently, with their first round picks, Milwaukee knows not to forget about the second round. In fact, there are currently three second rounders on the roster: Steve Novak, Khris Middleton, and Malcolm Brogdon.

Novak might not be the epitome of greatness out of the second round, but he has been a serviceable knockdown shooter for his career, which has seen him bounce around the league. Steve has not been a factor since joining the Bucks late in his career, but as a former Marquette player, he has the appeal of the Milwaukee fanbase.

Another second rounder that was not originally taken by the Bucks, Khris Middleton, who injured his hamstring and is anticipating a return for later this season, has had a major impact on Milwaukee. He is a very talented shooting guard that fits the mold of an elite three-and-D player. Losing Khris “Khash” Middleton was a rough start for the Bucks this season, but bringing him back will have an instant impact.

Then, in this past summer’s draft, the team drafted Malcolm Brogdon, a senior out of the University of Virginia. Brogdon was known in college as a lockdown defender who had a knack for getting buckets as well. In the NBA, that has continued. The President, as he is called, has been an outstanding back-up guard for Milwaukee this season and might be garnering a look at Rookie of the Year with his play.

But it is not just these three that have succeeded.

Other second round picks by the Bucks in recent memory (some may or may not have played in Bucks’ uniforms for long) include Michael Redd, Dan Gadzuric, Ersan Ilyasova, Ramon Sessions, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Jon Leuer.

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

“On the fourth day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

The Bucks made multiple great decisions this offseason (see Greek Freak extension), but re-signing Miles Plumlee was definitely questionable. For starters, he was already a restricted free agent and nobody offered him a contract this summer.

With his demand so low, the decision to give Plumlee, who has done nothing to prove nothing worthy of this contract other than a short stretch of games, a four-year, $52-million extension was head-scratching to say the least.

The Bucks have played 29 games so far this season and Plumlee has only played 20 of them, averaging just around 10 minutes per game. For someone making as much money as Plumlord, these are numbers are flat-out unacceptable.

He is clearly the third best center on the roster, and seeing that much money go to waste is just a mishandled situation by the organization at this point. On the plus side, however, he will be here for the next four years so maybe he develops into a strong part of the rotation again at a later date.

Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

“On the fifth day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…five months no Khash, four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

Losing Khris Middleton to a hamstring injury for around five months was an absolute crusher for the Milwaukee Bucks prior to the season. As arguably the best Buck from the previous season, Khash was anticipated to be a major on and off-court leader for the team as well as providing some much needed three-point shooting.

Newcomers Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, and Malcolm Brogdon have done their best to make up for absence, but the team is definitely better with Middleton in the lineup.

Even with Giannis Antetokounmpo growing into his role as a superstar in the league, adding another perimeter threat both on offense and defense would have made things even easier for the rising star. The hope is that Middleton is able to return prior to the end of this season and maybe help the Bucks compete to make the playoffs and make a splash once they arrive.

Khris is part of the core three players the Bucks are building around (along with the cornerstones mentioned earlier) and bringing him back will be a huge addition for the Bucks.

“On the sixth day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…six games with Big Three, five months no Khash, four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

“We’re just gonna go out there and play basketball…and win.”

“And win?”

“Yeah.”

“In how many games?

Six. We’re gonna win in six.”

You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. But yet, Bucks in Six remains one of the greatest quotes ever by a Milwaukee Bucks player.

Entering a the series against the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat, the Bucks were heavy underdogs. The Heat brought to the table their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, while the Bucks had the undersized, but pesky guard play of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.

How did it end? Well, the Bucks lost in four games, a sweep, but that does not change the quote. Forevermore, every Bucks playoff series will remind us all of “win in six.”

It is also the name of our podcast here at Behind the Buck Pass, which you should totally listen to.

“On the seventh day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…seven years of Ray Ray, six games with Big Three, five months no Khash, four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

The Bucks have had their fair share of good players over the past several years, even though there have been very few All-Stars, but none compare to Ray Allen in his time with the Bucks (you’re getting there, Giannis). Allen played seven of his 19 seasons in Milwaukee and was a three-time All-Star in this time.

Ray Ray was once an incredibly athletic wing, even though the latter parts of his career labelled him as more a catch-and-shoot player, and he produced some outstanding highlights while rocking the purple and green.

Allen, along with Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson, formed a Big Three in Milwaukee, which led to an appearance in the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals, where they fell in seven games to the Allen Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks have not returned to even the second round of the NBA Playoffs since that performance.

Although traded in the 2002-2003 season to the SuperSonics along with Flip Murray for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason, Ray Allen spent seven incredible years with the franchise.

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

“On the eighth day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…eight retired numbers, seven years of Ray Ray, six games with Big Three, five months no Khash, four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

The Milwaukee Bucks were founded in 1968, making this their 48th year in existence. In that time, eight numbers have been retired.

#1 Oscar Robertson: Regarded as one of the greatest point guards in the history of the NBA, the Big O was a 12-time All-Star, 11-time All-Pro, and took home one MVP award. Although many of these awards occurred while he played for the Cincinnati Royals, his one NBA championship came with the Bucks in 1971.

#2 Junior Bridgeman: Bridgeman played with the Bucks for nine years in the 70s and 80s and owns the record for most career games with the team at 711. He was a sixth man for the majority of his career, but also averaged in double-digits for his career.

#4 Sidney Moncrief: After being selected 5th overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by Milwaukee, Sir Sid spent his first 11 years in the league with the Bucks. Along with being a five-time All-Star, Moncrief won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons, 1983 and 1984.

#10 Bob Dandridge: A member of the 1971 NBA Championship winning Milwaukee Bucks, Dandridge spent eight years with the team and was an All-Star three times during that period. Along with his time in Milwaukee, Dandridge won his second NBA title in 1978 with the Washington Bullets.

#14 Jon McGlocklin: Having been a member of the Bucks’ broadcasting crew for the last 25 years, McGlocklin has made a name for himself as one of the most well-respected players from the franchise. Also a part of the 1971 Championship team, McGlocklin was an All-Star in 1969.

#16 Bob Lanier: An NBA Hall of Famer as well as having his Bucks’ number retired, Bob Lanier spent much of his career with the Detroit Pistons, where he collected seven of his eight All-Star appearances. He went to one All-Star game with the Bucks (1982) and also won the division title in each season he spent in Milwaukee.

#32 Brian Winters: Winters joined the Bucks in the trade that sent the next player on this list to the Los Angeles Lakers along with Junior Bridgeman (also mentioned above). He spent eight seasons with the Bucks and was a two-time All-Star.

#33 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Widely acknoledged as one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball, Kareem was a Buck for six seasons, including the 1971 Championship one. For his career, he was a six-time NBA Champion, six-time MVP, 19-time All-Star, etc. To put it simply, Kareem was unbelievable and is still regarded as one of the all-time greats.

Lastly, can we please retired #8 for Marques Johnson soon? The man deserves it.

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

“On the ninth day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…nine shots from Beasley, eight retired numbers, seven years of Ray Ray, six games with Big Three, five months no Khash, four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

Acquired this offseason for Tyler Ennis, Michael Beasley is a scoring machine off the bench for the Bucks. He is not a great defender nor is he a great passer, but he is only called upon to do one thing, and he does that one thing.

As Uncle Drew has taught us, “Basketball is about one thing: getting buckets.” And to put it simply, B-Easy gets buckets.

On a per-36 minute statistical line, Beasley is averaging close to 20 points as well as snagging 8.3 rebounds this season. His ability to knock down jumpers and his baby fadeaway is in large part making the Bucks bench much improved from last season.

He is a high volume shooter, and nine shots from Milwaukee’s #9 is right around what you can expect on one of those nights when he is feeling it from the floor.

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

“On the 10th day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…10 pick of Maker, nine shots for Beasley, eight retired numbers, seven years of Ray Ray, six games with Big Three, five months no Khash, four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

Although the Bucks have seen very little play from their rookie, all of Milwaukee has to be excited about the arrival of Thon Maker, who was selected at pick number 10 this summer. After seeing how well the Greek Freak has done as a high potential player in Milwaukee, one has to be confident in the possibility of Thon becoming a high-level player in the next few years.

As I have detailed before, Thon has the ability to become a great stretch-4/5 option for Point Giannis a few years down the road. The Bucks already have youngsters ready to take the league by storm in Giannis and Jabari, but when adding in a healthy Khris Middleton and an NBA-ready Thon to the roster, things will start to get interesting.

This also includes the attitude that Thon possesses. Kevin Garnett has already met with the 19-year-old and has commented on the fire and drive that Maker has, making him even more of a fan-favorite, even before he’s gotten to see quality minutes from Jason Kidd.

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“On the 11th day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…11 Brandon Knight, 10 pick of Maker, nine shots from Beasley, eight retired numbers, seven years of Ray Ray, six games with Big Three, five months no Khash, four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

Brandon Knight, acquired alongside Khris Middleton in the trade of Brandon Jennings and wearer of number 11, proved to be a valuable asset for the Bucks in many ways. First of all, he was a key part of the trade that brought in Khash, now a member of the Bucks’ core.

On top of that, he was a very good player in his time Milwaukee, as he came very close to becoming the first All-Star since Michael Redd in 2004. He spent just a season and a half with the team, where he was able to notch 17.5 points per game to go with 5.1 assists per game. He did so, however, on just 42.2 percent shooting from the floor.

Around the trade deadline in that second season, the Bucks dealt Knight and Kendall Marshall in a three-team trade that yielded Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis, and Miles Plumlee for the Bucks.

Sure, this wasn’t the greatest deal for the team, but it did move a high-usage player, who was due a new contract, in Brandon Knight, leaving more ball-time available for the next era of Bucks basketball, involving Middleton, Jabari Parker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Since joining Phoenix, Brandon Knight has steadily declined. He nearly got his average up to 20 points per game last season, but this season has been a disaster for him so far. He ranks near the bottom in the league in RPM, and is the clear odd man out in the Suns’ backcourt that boasts Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.

To this point in the year, Knight is down from 36 minutes per game to 24.3 minutes per game and his scoring has decreased from 19.6 per game to just 13.1 on an ugly 38.6 percent from the field.

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“On the 12th day of Bucksmas, Milwaukee sent to me…12 years no all-stars, 11 Brandon Knight, 10 pick of Maker, nine shots for Beasley, eight retired numbers, seven years of Ray Ray, six games with Big Three, five months no Khash, four more years of Plumlee, three second rounders, two cornerstones, and a Greek Freak at the 15th.”

It has been 12 years, that’s right, 12, since the Milwaukee Bucks had their last All-Star in Michael Redd. But yet, is now the time that the streak ends?

Giannis Antetokounmpo is off to a very hot start and is looking every bit an All-Star. In fact, he is looking like the second-best player in the entire Eastern Conference (behind King James himself) at the moment.

His outstanding play on a fairly good team while putting up highlight after highlight make him not only a likely All-Star, but the type of player that the fans want to see in the All-Star Game. The Greek Freak is the human highlight reel and seeing him on the big stage is not something that the average NBA fan sees night in and night out.

They see the highlights, but the lack of nationally televised games for Milwaukee has greatly hurt his stock among lists containing the best players in the league. He demands a mismatch in just about every game he plays and is a triple-double threat constantly.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is ready for the big stage, but is the big stage ready for Giannis?

And that marks the end of the “Twelve Days of Bucksmas,” presented by Behind the Buck Pass. We hope that everybody enjoys a great holiday season and we look forward to more Bucks victories down the road.

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