Kia Season Preview 2017-18
One Team, One Stat -- Milwaukee Bucks depend on points in the paint
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Milwaukee Bucks, who lived in the paint more than any other team.
The Milwaukee Bucks took only 47 percent of their shots from outside the paint last season.
That was the lowest rate in a league that took 54 percent of its shots from outside the paint on average.
The Bucks weren’t a terrible shooting team from the outside. They ranked 10th in 3-point percentage and only the Celtics made a bigger improvement from the season before in effective field goal percentage from outside the paint. After ranking 28th at 44.1 percent in 2015-16, the Bucks ranked 12th at 49.1 percent in ’16-17.
They traded a lot of mid-range shots for threes, registering the the league’s second biggest increase in the percentage of their shots that came from beyond the arc. But they still ranked in the bottom 10 in that regard. They were one of *four teams that ranked in the top 10 in 3-point percentage (10th) and in the bottom 10 in the percentage of their shots that came from 3-point range (21st).
* The others: Indiana (4th and 26th), San Antonio (1st and 24th) and Washington (8th and 23rd).
Because they weren’t a high-volume jump-shooting team, the Bucks’ offense still depended on their ability to get to the basket. They were 27-15 when they scored 50 or more points in the paint and 15-25 when they didn’t. If you got back in transition and walled off the paint, you were in good shape against the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ranked second in the league (behind LeBron James) with 456 baskets in the restricted area and third with 13.1 points in the paint per game. But he shot just 33 percent from mid-range, the worst mark among 70 players who took at least 200 mid-range shots.
Still, thanks to the reduction in mid-range shots and a reduction in turnovers, the Bucks ranked 13th in offensive efficiency, their highest rank in the last 10 seasons.
A full season of Khris Middleton and Thon Maker in the starting lineup will help the Bucks’ spacing. They took 35.3 percent of their shots from 3-point range in 234 total minutes with Tony Snell, Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Maker on the floor with either Malcolm Brogdon or Matthew Dellavedova at point guard. All other Milwaukee lineups took just 28.6 percent of their shots from 3-point range.
In games Middleton started (after making his season debut in late February), the Bucks went 17-6. The offense took a step backward, but Milwaukee did rank second in 3-point percentage in the playoffs.
With improved spacing and a more balanced offense in regard to their shot locations, the Bucks have the potential to be a better-than-average team on both ends of the floor for the first time in 27 years and a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2001.
BUCKS NOTES – GENERAL
- Have gone 16 seasons without winning a playoff series, the longest active streak in the league.
- As noted above, they haven’t been a better-than-average team in both offensive and defensive efficiency since the 1990-91 season.
- Were the third most improved team in the league last season, 4.0 points per 100 possessions better than they were the season before. Only Houston (5.6) and Philadelphia (4.3) saw bigger increases in NetRtg.
- One of three teams (all in the East) that finished with a winning record and a negative point differential.
- Were at their best, plus-4.6 points per 100 possessions (seventh best in the league), in the first quarter. Were outscored by 0.9 points per 100 possessions over the remainder of the game.
BUCKS NOTES – OFFENSE
- 82.2 percent of their 3-point shots, the highest rate in the league, were off the catch. Antetokounmpo’s 66 pull-up 3-point attempts led the team and ranked 83rd in the league.
- According to SportVU, 74.8 percent (the seventh highest rate in the league) of their jump shots were uncontested, up from 64.0 percent (27th) the season before. That was the league’s biggest jump from ’15-16 to ’16-17.
- Ranked last in clutch offense, scoring just 90.3 points per 100 possessions with the game within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. That was 17.3 points per 100 worse than they were on non-clutch possessions (107.6).
- Effective field goal percentage of 49.2 percent in the last six seconds of the shot clock was the best mark in the league. They also ranked in the top five in effective field goal percentage in the first six seconds of the shot clock (63.8 percent).
BUCKS NOTES – DEFENSE
- Have ranked in the bottom seven in defensive rebounding percentage each of the last six seasons.
- Only 12.0 percent of opponent possessions were in transition, the second lowest rate in the league (lowest among playoff teams). They forced their opponents to take 18 percent of their shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock, the highest rate in the league.
- According to SportVU, Bucks opponents averaged 3.28 passes per possession, the highest rate in the league. Opponent ball screens resulted in a shot, turnover or drawn foul by the ball-handler or screener just 37 percent of the time. That was the league’s lowest opponent usage rate on ball screens.
- 69 percent of their opponent shots came from the restricted area or 3-point range, the highest rate in the league. Their opponents attempted 1.8 times as many 3-pointers as mid-range shots, also the highest rate in the league.
- Though they lost in the first round, they ranked first in defensive efficiency in the playoffs and were the only team that allowed fewer points per 100 possessions in the postseason (101.5) than they did in the regular season (106.4).
BUCKS NOTES – LINEUPS
- As noted above, they went 17-6 with Middleton in the starting lineup. After the point he made his season debut (Feb. 8), they outscored their opponents by 5.7 points per 100 possessions with Middleton on the floor and were outscored by 7.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the bench.
- After Middleton (plus-5.7), their best on-court NetRtg marks belonged to reserves. Their five best two-man combinations (minimum 500 minutes) all included Brogdon or Greg Monroe.
- Last season was the first time (in seven years in the league) Monroe had a positive plus-minus for the year.
- In the regular season, they allowed 117 points per 100 possessions in 259 minutes with both Brogdon and Dellavedova on the floor. In the playoffs, they scored just 88 points per 100 possessions in the 54 minutes they played together.
- The Bucks were outscored by 19.2 points per 100 possessions in 160 minutes with Antetokounmpo on the floor with neither Brogdon or Dellavedova.
BUCKS NOTES – INDIVIDUALS
- Giannis Antetokounmpo was the only player in the league to average at least 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, one assist and one steal per game. Other players to do so in the last 25 years: Charles Barkley (once), Kevin Durant (once), Kevin Garnett (six times), LeBron James (three times), Tracy McGrady (once), Scottie Pippen (once), Dwyane Wade (twice) and Chris Webber (once).
- In each season since his rookie year, Antetokounmpo has seen an increase in usage rate, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, rebounding percentage and assist/turnover ratio.
- Antetokounmpo took 53 percent of his shots in the restricted area, the highest rate (by a wide margin) among the 38 players who took at least 1,000 shots from the field last season (and more than double the rate of 18 of the other 37). The next highest rate belonged to James at 46 percent.
- Malcolm Brogdon was one of two rookies to shoot 40 percent or better on at least 100 3-point attempts.
- Matthew Dellavedova assisted on 33.5 percent his possessions, the eighth highest rate among 158 players who averaged at least 25 minutes in 40 or more games. While he was on the floor, he grabbed just 4.3 percent of available rebounds, the third lowest rate among that same group.
- Thon Maker averaged almost twice as many minutes in the playoffs (19.4) than he did in the regular season (9.9). That was the biggest increase among players that played in each of their team’s playoff games. He ranked third in the playoffs with 1.8 blocks per game.
- Khris Middleton recorded career highs in usage rate, free throw rate (FTA/FGA) and true shooting percentage last season. His 43.0 percent from 3-point range after the All-Star break was the sixth best mark (best in the Eastern Conference) among 65 players with at least 100 post-break 3-point attempts.
- Greg Monroe shot 52.2 percent in the last four seconds of the shot clock, the best mark among players with at least 50 attempts.
- Before he got hurt last season, Jabari Parker had a usage rate of 26.0 percent, up from 20.8 the season before. That was the 11th biggest increase among 215 players who played at least 1,000 minutes in both 2015-16 and ’16-17. Antetokounmpo had the sixth biggest increase and like his teammate, Parker also saw increases in effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, rebounding percentage and assist/turnover ratio.
- Tony Snell had an effective field goal percentage of 58.8 percent last season, up from 45.4 percent the season before. That was the biggest increase among 156 players who attempted at least 250 shots in 2015-16 and 500 shots in ’16-17. The increase of the percentage of his shots that came from 3-point range (from 45.7 percent to 65.6 percent) was the sixth highest increase among that same group.
NBA TV’s Bucks preview premieres at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 10. See the full preview schedule and archived clips from previous previews here.
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