Four Factors Update
Fifteen games into the season, the Bucks have formed an identity. They push the ball, excel in transition, can go 13 deep any night, struggle to make threes, don’t get to the line, sometimes stall in the halfcourt, block shots, force turnovers, take care of the ball, and don’t blink when they are down by 17 or 27.
Then again, the team is also still changing just about every single day. There is nothing close to a set starting (or ending) lineup, and players are coming back from injury (Mbah a Moute) while others are sitting out with injuries (Udrih, Dunleavy).
Indeed, the latest statistical analysis shows some real change from last time.
Some context: the Bucks rank 23rd in offensive efficiency and 10th in defensive efficiency. All stats are through Dec. 1.
Summary: The Bucks are in the middle of the eFG % pack both offensively (18th) and defensively (15th). Two weeks ago, they were 11th in offensive eFG % and 26th in defensive eFG %.
Positive: Larry Sanders remains a high percentage offensive player, with a strong, out-of-nowhere 56.5 eFG%. He has simplified things so much from last season, and while his field goal attempts overall are up (6.1 per game), he is actually attempting fewer shots per minute this season than either of the previous two. Sanders also is helping keep opponent shots from going in, with 4.3 blocks (and plenty more alters) per 36 minutes.
Negative: While his playmaking for others has been brilliant at times, Monta Ellis is off to a rough start shooting the ball, sporting a career-low 41.9 eFG%. That is doubly problematic because as Ellis can create his own shot better than anyone on the team, he also shoots more than anyone on the team. Also: Ersan Ilyasova (38.9 %) is slowly but surely (but, again, slowly) improving.
Others: LeBron James’ Heat are nearly unstoppable offensively and are in a class of their own in the East. James’ former team, the Cavaliers, are lost without Kyrie Irving.
Summary: The Bucks are equally excellent on both sides of the turnover game, ranking 5th best in offensive turnover percentage and defensive turnover percentage. Two weeks ago, they ranked 10th in offensive turnover percentage and 5th in defensive turnover percentage.
Positive: The team is third closest to that bright red dot in the upper right, meaning only the Knicks and Grizzlies are winning the turnover battle more dominantly than the Bucks. Coincidentally, the Bucks lost badly to both of those teams in head-to-head matchups already. Brandon Jennings (12.1) and Monta Ellis (12.1) rarely turn the ball over, while Jennings still ranks among the NBA leaders in steals.
Negative: Things are peachy, in this department. Although, if Beno Udrih (ankle sprain) or Mike Dunleavy (knee soreness) miss extended time, that could cause some offensive flow problems.
Others: The new-look Hawks are forcing tons of turnovers while the Knicks still never turn the ball over.
Summary: The Bucks rank 22nd in offensive rebound percentage and 8th in defensive rebound percentage. That means they have fallen 12 spots in offensive rebound percentage and seven spots in defensive rebound percentage since two weeks ago.
Positive: They remain easily above average protecting the defensive glass, which is paramount if they are to maintain playing offense on the fast track.
Negative: The team suffered a major defensive rebounding breakdown in a home loss to the Bulls, giving up 20 offensive rebounds, including eight to Carlos Boozer. Meanwhile, Ersan Ilyasova must be a consistent, important, and productive player if the Bucks hope to become a force on the offensive boards at some point this season.
Others: Even without much of anything from Andrew Bogut (out indefinitely) so far, the Warriors are the best defensive rebounding team in the NBA, a distinction the Bucks held two weeks ago.
Free Throw Ratio
Summary: This is officially an issue: The Bucks rank 29th in offensive free throw ratio and 27th in defensive free throw ratio.
Positive: In a small sample size, John Henson is earning the most free throw attempts per minute of anyone on the team, so there is some hope for the future.
Negative: Brandon Jennings is attempting 2.6 free throws per 36 minutes, the lowest number of his career. Only the Kings have a worse free throw differential than the Bucks. Not only do the Bucks not get to the line, they continue to send opponents to the line with alarming frequency.
Others: The Thunder’s offensive success (for years running) has a lot to do with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, which is to say it has a lot to do with getting easy points at the line.
My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.