Over the last few weeks, the BBALLBREAKDOWN team have been taking looks at five important questions each NBA team will be facing going into the upcoming offseason, continuing here with the Milwaukee Bucks.
1. Who Is Michael Carter-Williams?
As a life-long Bucks fan, the above question has been lingering in my mind since the team acquired him in a trade deadline deal from the Philadelphia 76ers. Not only did I have to deal with the team making a complete 180-degree turn from an exciting score-first guard (Brandon Knight) to a defensive-minded player that hasn’t come close to developing a consistent jumper (Carter-Williams), the former Rookie of the Year has been a controversial talent since he was drafted in 2013.
A lot of the negative stigma that surrounds MCW centers around that broken jumper. In the current era that relies so heavily on floor spacing, having somebody like Carter-Williams who shot 25% from beyond the arc during his NBA career is tough to incorporate. And as BBALLBREAKDOWN’s Bryan Toporek stated in late March, MCW’s shooting mechanics are so broken down that he may last the rest of his career looking like the likes of Rondo or Rubio than somebody like Jason Kidd, who was ultimately able to get over his initial shooting woes.
Alongside that, MCW has developed a reputation for being a turnover machine. Prior to his arrival, he was averaging a league leading 4.2 turnovers per game. That weakness didn’t totally go away as he made that transition to the Bucks. It took a while for Carter-Williams to fully mesh in his role, which lead to some extremely ugly turnovers. During his first full month with the Bucks, MCW averaged 3.5 turnovers per game.
As his comfort level inside the Milwaukee system grew, however, MCW’s high turnover rate started to quickly decline. Averaging only 2.6 turnovers per game during the month of April, Carter-Williams started to slowly showcase flashes of being the player that Jason Kidd fell in love with. He showed himself to be an extremely solid slasher, someone that can get to the paint and either work his way to the basket or kick it out to an open teammate. His work as a facilitator was showcased by him averaging 6 assists per game during April, while maintaining a solid enough 2.16 Ast/TO ratio.
Aside from his work as a facilitator, Carter-Williams also used April to showcase some semblance of an inside game. Since his time with Syracuse, MCW has always been a solid on-ball cutter, as he uses a combination of his long frame and solid ball-handling ability to get to the paint whenever he desires. In the month of April, MCW shot 55% from inside the restricted area, and shot 52% during his time with the Bucks.
Building off of his ability to cut to the rim, MCW started to develop a post-up game. Although that will never be the biggest part of his offensive game, he showed a lot of confidence from that area, perhaps surprising considering that post-ups were never part of his game prior to this season. Per Synergy Sports, Carter-Williams averaged .89 PPP (Points Per Possession) and 46% shooting on post-ups. Doing a majority of that work off the left block, Carter-Williams showed excellent footwork which he used to hit a turnaround jumper or create enough separation to hit an easy shot around the rim.
All of his work on offense ultimately plays second fiddle, though, as a lot of MCW’s value rests with his work on the defensive end. It’s a real joy to simply watch him work as a perimeter defender, as he can work around screens in a split second or make some of the more seamless switches in the game. That seamless nature led opponents to average just .68 PPP against Carter-Williams, and those traits has allowed him to be one of the league’s deadliest perimeter defenders, a perfect fit inside the team’s elite defensive unit.
The case for Michael Carter-Williams as the team’s starting point guard of the future is an issue that will continue to be highly debated for the whole off-season. The detractors will list his lack of a jump shot as the most problematic part, especially when considering that the Bucks aren’t exactly loaded with perimeter threats. Although he is a solid facilitator, it really took a while for the Bucks’ offense to look in sync with MCW as the leader, which might have a lot to do with his struggles as a shooter.
However, you could also make the case that he’s still a young player that stands as a perfect fit for the plan that the team has in place, i.e. surrounding the lineup with long, athletic players that work their tails off on defense. Additionally, MCW’s strides as an inside scorer could become a positive part of Milwaukee’s offense next season.
So will the Bucks be willing to wait another year or two to see if MCW can at least develop a below-average jumper to coincide with his tremendous defensive ability? Or will the Bucks decide to pursue a replacement via other means (draft, free agency, trade or Brandon Knight)?
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2. How Much Did Giannis Antetokounmpo Improve During His Sophomore Season?
Prior to Jason Kidd or Jabari Parker causing minor shockwaves around the NBA with their arrivals in Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo stood as the face behind the future of the Bucks. When the Bucks drafted him with the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Giannis was looked at as being way too raw to even compete at the NBA level. Although he displayed some of the traits that has allowed him to be one of the league’s finest youngsters, Antetokounmpo had a bevy of different flaws; an incredibly raw shooting stroke, an incredibly lean frame and a real lack of experience.
Even with those weaknesses apparent during his rookie season, though, Antetokounmpo stood as the lone bright spot in an otherwise awful season for the Bucks. During that rookie year, Antetokounmpo averaged 6.8 points (on a 52% True Shooting Percentage), 4.4 boards and 1.9 assists on 25 minutes per game. While those weren’t earth-shattering numbers, they were good enough to name Antetokounmpo to the All-NBA Rookie Second Team, Just that accomplishment alone was impressive considering that the lone experience that he had playing organized basketball was in Greece’s equivalent of the NBA D-League.
While he impressed during his rookie season, nobody anticipated how much Antetokounmpo would improve during his sophomore campaign. Antetokounmpo made improvements on all of the flaws that he had, and also further improved on his strengths.
Antetokounmpo definitely became more comfortable with shooting the ball, whether it be in isolation or off of catch-and-shoot opportunities. Although Antetokounmpo shied away from working on the perimeter much, he started to develop a pretty solid mid-range game. From between 16-24 feet, Antetokounmpo shot 39%, which was a huge improvement over his rookie season.
Although he still has a slim, lanky frame, Antetokounmpo was also able to pack on a noticeable amount of bulk during his sophomore season. Antetokounmpo’s outstanding frame (standing 6’11″ with a 7’3″ wingspan) combined with that added weight gives him a lot of potential as a post-up player, especially when he works primarily against much smaller wing defenders.
Like Carter-Williams, Antetokounmpo looks comfortable when he’s posting up, despite never previously going there prior to this season. Antetokounmpo has shown that he’s comfortable on both the left and right block, and already has a few moves in his post-up repertoire, with a right-handed hook and a drop step being the two major highlights. Per Synergy Sports, Antetokounmpo averaged .79 PPP or 48% on post-ups, a solid average for such a young prospect.
Outside of working on becoming a better post-up and mid-range threat, Antetokounmpo’s main method of attack on offense is through cuts to the paint. Through both off and on-ball cuts, Antetokounmpo was able to be effective based a lot on his sheer aggression. Off-ball, he’s great at finding and exploiting any little gap in the opposing defense. And thanks to his 6’11″ frame, it’s nearly impossible for the defense to stop Giannis when he’s transfixed on attacking the rim. That statement is backed up by him averaging 1.26 PPP on off-ball cuts.
Among all of the positives of Antetokounmpo’s game, his work as a ball-handler is the most eye-popping. For somebody of his size, he showcases such grace when he’s working with the ball in his hand. Whether he’s taking a straight drive at the rim, using a Eurostep or pulling out an outrageous spin move, Antetokounmpo working with the ball in his hand has become must-see viewing.
Of course, while the spin moves or Eurosteps may be eye-popping, Kidd and the Bucks organization are more concerned with how he finishes. And yet if his sophomore season becomes a barometer of how he’s going to play, then Kidd and the Bucks won’t have much to worry about. Around the restricted area, Antetokounmpo shot 61% from around the restricted area, a significant improvement from the 55% shooting percentage from his rookie season. That solid performance should continue, as Antetokounmpo will still be continuing to develop and grow within his unique frame.
To put all of this in perspective, Giannis was able to become a much more efficient player while seeing his role inside the team grow, which is an extremely promising combination. During his sophomore season, Antetokounmpo averaged 12.7 points (56% True Shooting Percentage) and 6.7 rebounds in 31 minutes per game. The particularly impressive part of that is Antetokounmpo’s TS% was able to increase when his work from the perimeter (15% on .5 three point attempts per game) took a significant trend downward from his rookie season (34% on 1.5 three point attempts per game).
So where will Giannis go from here? While we won’t find out that answer for another few months, the young forward has remarked on the skills that he’s going to be working on during this off-season. In an interview with EuroHoops.net, the young forward commented on how he’s going to be working on honing his post-up game and becoming more comfortable as a shooter. In regards to his develop as a post-up player, Antetokounmpo stated the following:
Another aspect that is scheduled to work on in individual training is to introduce more moves in the low post. If the opponent learns a move in the low post and he’s ready to stop you, you have to dig up a new one you’ve worked on and surprise him.
In that same interview, Antetokounmpo also had some intriguing insight on his relationship with Jason Kidd and the impact that the future Hall-Of-Famer had on decreasing his work from the perimeter:
I didn’t shoot because coach Kidd didn’t want me to shoot! Ultimately, this was of great help! I understood that at this stage I have to start my offensive moves from deeper in the court. Three-pointers and lay-ups I attempted mostly in my first season in the NBA.”
Now I’ve already added a low post game and I’m at a very good level in drives. Within the season I added the mid-distance shot. Next season I’ll add the three-pointer too. I don’t have to start shooting a lot of three-pointers. From now on, when I’m free I’ll execute. When I decide to add an element to my game and I set that as a goal, I’ll manage it, without a doubt.
While working on post-ups over perimeter jumpers might anger some analytic junkies, taking a year-by-year approach with Antetokounmpo might have been the best possible thing that Jason Kidd could have done, Antetokounmpo at least has the potential to be one of the more unguardable players in the league. The development as a post-up threat would make him able to absolutely destroy most shooting guards in the low-post, while improvement as a shooter would prevent small or power forwards from sagging off on him. That instance would allow Antetokounmpo to use his quick first-step to drive to the rim.
Even if Antetokounmpo doesn’t stake his claim as one of the league’s most feared offensive threats, his continued development has become perhaps the most exciting parts of the Bucks.
3. How Good Is Khris Middleton And How Much Will He Earn In The Open Market?
When the Bucks acquired Khris Middleton alongside Brandon Knight in the deal that sent Brandon Jennings to the Pistons, the forward was looked at as an afterthought. The 39th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Middleton wasn’t able to get any consistent time during his rookie year with the Pistons. Bouncing around between Detroit and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Detroit’s D-League affiliate), Middleton played in 27 games with the Pistons, and averaged 6 points (44% shooting) and 2 rebounds in 17 minutes per game.
As Middleton arrived in Milwaukee, he was able to quickly establish himself as one of the team’s lone reliable offensive weapons. Although playing in an unremarkable offense (Milwaukee was the league’s 26th best offense by averaging 100 points per 100 possessions) may not sound like a huge accomplishment, it’s significant when looking at how Middleton was never much of an offensive threat during his time at Detroit.
During his time with Texas A&M and the Pistons, Middleton only shot 32% from beyond the arc once (36% during the 2010-11 season). With that in mind, Middleton shooting 41% on 3.5 three point attempts per game during that first season in Milwaukee was striking. In his initial season with Milwaukee, Middleton averaged 12 points (on a 54% True Shooting Percentage) and 3 boards in 30 minutes per game.
Transitioning into his second season, Middleton was able to combine that awesome offensive efficiency with one huge addition: defense.
With Kidd at the helm, Middleton immediately installed himself as the anchor behind the team’s improved unit. Under the new regime, Kidd and the Bucks coaching staff pushed the team into the hardest working defensive unit in the entire league. The team’s defense is based around the combination of pressuring ball-handlers and having a slew of long, athletic players that can guard multiple positions. Those traits helped lead the Bucks to forcing the most turnovers (17.4 turnovers per game) in the league. Middleton was the main reason behind that defensive success, as he averaged 1.5 steals per game, only trailing Carter-Williams
Aside from his work as a ball hawk, Middleton has the tools of being the ideal defensive wing. Similar to Antetokounmpo, Carter-Williams and John Henson, he is an incredibly long player that can guard multiple positions. The versatile Middleton does an amazing job of using his long frame, whether it would be sticking with guards on the perimeter or working inside to defend against power forwards. That level of defensive flexibility has allowed Middleton to be the most important defender on the team through a wide array of defensive metrics.
Per 100 possessions, opponents averaged nine more points when Middleton was on the bench (106 points per 100) compared to when he was working on the court (96.2 points per 100). In addition, Middleton allowed just .59 PPP on isolations, which put him in the 91st percentile (Draymond Green is in the 92nd). And when defending pick-and-rolls, opponents averaged only .67 PPP – good for the 78th percentile. Although he didn’t get any consideration this year, continued defensive consistency from Middleton might put him in discussion for Defensive Player of the Year in years to come.
The combination of that defensive excellence and offensive consistency will rightfully make Middleton into an extremely hot commodity, as he’ll be entering the 2015 offseason as a restricted free agent. Because of this, the Bucks will have the right to match any other offer that another NBA team will throw at him. While free agency won’t start for another month, it’s readily apparent that multiple teams would want to acquire Middleton. Especially with seeing how teams like Golden State (Draymond Green or Harrison Barnes), Atlanta (DeMarre Carroll), and San Antonio (Kawhi Leonard) have thrived because they have wings that can defend multiple positions while being able to shoot the three-pointer.
While the possible definitions aren’t quite clear, the amount of money that he could demand is a bit more apparent. Through a piece from the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, NBA executives have stated that Middleton might draw between $9 to $15 million per year. While that might sound a bit excessive, forward Chandler Parsons was granted a three-year $46 million deal from the Mavericks. And Middleton is the better defender.
Will Milwaukee be willing to pay that much money for Middleton? While it could be arguable that they might have to pass, considering that they’ll have to eventually pay Carter-Williams, Antetokounmpo and Parker, it’s likely that they’ll match his offer considering how difficult it is to find a player that’s as good as what he does as Khris Middleton.
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4. Who Will The Bucks Draft With Their 17th Overall Pick?
Unlike lottery picks in places such as Philadelphia and Denver – where you can easily map out which prospects will be available when they pick – it’s much more difficult for a team like the Bucks, who possess the 17th overall pick. Although projecting which players will be available at #17 is challenging, it’s much easier to point out the weaknesses that the Bucks will look to mend with that pick.
With Jabari Parker looking to return from a torn ACL injury, Milwaukee has solid, young talent at most positions, with center being the possible exception. While Zaza Pachulia and Henson have stood as solid stopgaps after Larry Sanders decided to leave basketball, they’re definitely replaceable assets. So with that said, the Bucks could use that 17th pick to either pursue another center or a perimeter threat. Bucks GM John Hammond did provide some recent insight into evaluating the options in a recent piece for the team’s website:
We’re still a very young team, and we’re still very much an unfinished product, so I would look and say probably we like a lot of other teams we need a lot of things. We still need size, we need shooting, we need to continue to add toughness and energy to our team. So we have multiple needs.
Today we have a grouping that we’re working off of. Now it’s probably about 10 players. Last year when you’re sitting with the second pick, your grouping was two, maybe three players. You go as deep as 17 you maybe have 10 players in the grouping. I would assume that one of those players on our board is going to be there at 17.
So which prospects are in that group of 10+ prospects? Around the time those Hammond comments were released, Milwaukee Mag writer Eric Nehm compiled the draft prospects into three groups: Almost Definitely Gone; Possibly Available; Probably Available.
|Almost Definitely Gone||Possibly Available||Probably Available|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||Devin Booker||Justin Anderson|
|Mario Hezonja||Sam Dekker||Cliff Alexander|
|Stanley Johnson||Jerian Grant||Montrezl Harrell|
|Emmanuel Mudiay||Frank Kaminsky||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson|
|Jahlil Okafor||Kevon Looney||R.J. Hunter|
|Kristaps Porzingis||Trey Lyles||Tyus Jones|
|D’Angelo Russell||Kelly Oubre Jr.||Jarell Martin|
|Karl-Anthony Towns||Cameron Payne||Bobby Portis|
|Justice Winslow||Myles Turner||Terry Rozier|
Using that list combined with knowing the team’s needs (perimeter shooting and center), we have a solid idea of which prospects that the Bucks will be taking a serious look at. Unless the team decides to move into the lottery, the nine prospects in the “possibly available” category will be the most likely options. As well, I added some prospects from the “probably available” category that have been linked to the Bucks. So to make things easier, let’s separate those prospects into two categories: front-court players and perimeter threats.
Frank Kaminsky – Kaminsky might be the team’s best options for two reasons: being a seven-footer that can shoot from deep and also one that has deep ties for Wisconsin. Although he isn’t a great rim protector (averaged 1.7 blocks per 40 minutes), his skills on the offensive end would be a terrific additions to the Bucks. Outside of his perimeter jumper (shot 41% from three-point line), Kaminsky can cut to the paint and post-up from both the left and right block.
Devin Booker – Like Kaminsky, Booker’s work from the perimeter would make him a welcome addition to Milwaukee. With Kentucky, Booker shot 41% from beyond the arc on seven attempts per game, which was the main cog behind him averaging 18 points per 40 minutes. Aside from that, Booker is a very attentive defender, and as the youngest player in the draft, has a lot of time to grow as a player.
Jerian Grant – Alongside Kaminsky, Jerian Grant stands as one of the lone senior prospects that’s almost guaranteed to be picked in the first round. The main reason for that rests on Grant was an efficient facilitator, as he maintained an outstanding 3.07 AST/TO ratio during his senior season. Furthermore, the 6’5″ guard is a dynamic scorer that can work his way to the rim or shoot the perimeter jumper
Cameron Payne – Like Grant, Payne is such an intriguing prospect because he provides a great mix of passing and scoring. As a facilitator, Payne averaged 6 assists per game while maintaining an excellent 2.33 AST/TO ratio. Alongside that, Payne is a fine scorer, that can cause havoc in a multitude of different ways. Although he isn’t the most explosive player in the world, his stout ball-handling ability allows him to get to the rim (he shot 63% from around the basket as a senior). Payne’s shooting stroke isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but it was effective as he shot 37% from the perimeter on 6.7 attempts per game
Sam Dekker – After spending his junior season being lost in the shuffle behind Kaminsky and the other talented college forwards, Dekker blew up during the NCAA Tournament. In the six tournament games, Dekker averaged 19 points (57% from the field and 41% from the perimeter) and 5 rebounds per game. While he wasn’t able to maintain that level of consistency during the regular season, Dekker stands as a versatile forward that could make a stake in the league as a solid role player.
Kelly Oubre – Out of the crop of talented wings in this year’s draft (Winslow, Johnson, Dekker and Hezonja) Oubre might be the most raw talent. However, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a talented player. Oubre has shown an ability to score in a multitude of ways, whether it would be as a perimeter threat (shooting 35% from three on 2.5 attempts per game) or by driving his way to the basket.
R.J. Hunter: If the Bucks are looking for a player that would solely fit their need for a perimeter shooter and nothing else, and if Booker has already been selected, then R.J. Hunter might be that guy. Despite not being the most efficient shooter during his junior season (shot 30% from three point range on 7 attempts per game), Hunter has a beautiful shooting stroke, one that might only be rivaled by Booker. Hunter’s also a capable perimeter defender and facilitator, which are skills that will be able to keep him out the court if his jumpers aren’t dropping.
Kevon Looney – The UCLA forward and Milwaukee-raised prospect might be the most intriguing players that the Bucks could draft. Standing 6’9″ with a 7’4″ wingspan, Looney does a great job of using that length to grab offensive boards (4.4 per 40 minutes) or to be a menace on the defensive end. On that end, Looney loves to spread out on the perimeter and defend against a wide array of positions. As well, Looney has displayed an outside shooting stroke, which he used to shoot 41% from the perimeter.
Trey Lyles – Despite being the third piece in Kentucky’s front-court puzzle, Lyles was able to display some traits of being a solid pick-and-roll big. In that position, Lyles displayed that “Swiss Army knife” mentality, as he contributed in different ways. Those traits include being a mid-range jumpshooter, cutting to the basket and posting up from both ends of the paint. Although he hasn’t particularly excelled at one trait, Lyles has a great feel for the game, which something that you rarely see from a freshman prospect.
Myles Turner – Turner might be the most ideal prospect for the Bucks, which is both good or bad.
Good: The addition of Turner would allow the Bucks to have a great rim protector (4.7 blocks per 40 minutes) and somehow who can hit the mid-range/perimeter jumper.
Bad: Milwaukee would probably have to trade up to land Turner, as he’s projected to be drafted before the Bucks are on the clock. DraftExpress has him going #11 to Indiana, while Chad Ford has him going to the Utah Jazz at #12.
Bobby Portis – Although he isn’t the desirable prospect on this list, Portis is one of the more solid players that would be available at #17. The Arkansas alum constantly worked on both ends of the court. That work ethic combined with his stout frame allowed him to be this draft’s top offensive rebounder (4.9 offensive boards per 40 minutes), while guarding multiple positions on the defensive end. Add that to a solid mid-range jumper, and Portis stands as a strong all-around prospect.
All listed prospects would help the Bucks in different ways, but I personally would lean towards the trio of Portis, Lyles and Booker. For Portis and Lyles, they’re both long, athletic forwards that can spread the floor or work inside. For Booker, he’ll give the team a dominant perimeter threat that’s young enough that he has a lot of time to develop an all-around game.
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5. How Much Of An Impact Did Jason Kidd Make For The Bucks?
While Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Parker and Carter-Williams were the main players behind the team’s on-court attack, head coach Jason Kidd was the main reason behind the team’s huge turnaround.
After making the transition from Brooklyn to Milwaukee in controversial fashion, Kidd seemed to have one goal with the team’s young roster: hiding the weaknesses and accentuating their strengths. Knowing that he had a team filled with slew of long, athletic talent, Kidd decided that the quickest way to turn the team around was through the defensive end.
Kidd pushed the team’s defense into just being the hardest working defensive team in the league. With him at the helm, the Bucks’ defense became a fine-tuned machine built around the players moving around the court, providing high ball-pressure and being a menace to the opposing team. That approach helped lead the Bucks into forcing the most turnovers per game (17.4 per game).
Aside from forcing turnovers, Kidd’s defensive gameplan also prevented the opponents from getting too comfortable when they actually were able to put shots up. Per 100 possessions, opponents averaged 100 points against Milwaukee, the fourth lowest total in the league (behind only Memphis, San Antonio and Golden State). According to NBA.com’s defensive tracking data, opposing teams shot one percent worse from the field when they were playing Milwaukee compared to any other team.
Although Kidd and the Bucks mostly made their mark on the league through their improvement on the defensive end, the offense did make some significant strides under his watch too. With the crop of young athletes in his arsenal, Kidd decided to push for more of a high-paced offensive approach. From Larry Drew’s lone season with the team (91.8 possessions per 48) to Kidd (94.1 possessions per 48), the team transitioned from being the 24th to the 13th quickest offensive team in the league.
Some of that elevated pace was due to the Bucks scoring off turnovers (averaged 19 points off turnovers per game), but Kidd instilled an offense based upon a lot of off-ball movement and having solid spacing. The Bucks start out a lot of their offensive sets by pushing the ball to the high post/elbow, which is an approach that created a lot of different opportunities.
After Sanders left the team, the Bucks center rotation mainly consisted of Henson and Pachulia. Both players are comfortable working in the high-post as they both provide different qualities; Henson’s a mobile big that likes to push to the paint once he receives the feed to either drive to the rim or hit his patented left-handed hook shot, while Pachulia likes to stay stagnant at the elbow, which isn’t exactly a bad thing. Pachulia is a solid mid-range shooter, but his main weapon in the elbow would be his skills as a passer. Pachulia has fantastic instincts when it comes to seeking out off-ball cutters, and then being able to deliver smooth bounce passes to create some easy buckets. That work as a facilitator is a huge reason behind why the Bucks averaged six more points (103 points per 100 possession) when he was on the court compared to when he was on the sidelines (97 points per 100).
That off-ball nature allowed youngsters like Antetokounmpo or Parker (before he suffered a torn ACL) to become part of the offense despite not having well-rounded offensive games. Kidd was immediately able to scope out that both players are long, athletic players that could get around the rim and score in an efficient manner. Additionally, the approach was able to allow both players to be efficient offensive weapons, while they were able to slowly work on their all-around game.
While that the off-ball movement allowed Parker and Antetokounmpo to be effective, though, the team currently doesn’t have the personnel that would let the offense truly shine. The Bucks’ offense has pretty good overall floor spacing, but the team has yet to truly to shine offensively due to a real lack of floor spacers from three point range. Although they finished ninth in the league in three-point percentage (36% from beyond the arc), they’re not loaded with perimeter threats. Looking at the current roster, the team only has four players (Middleton, Ersan Ilyasova, Jared Dudley and O.J. Mayo) that shot better than 30% from beyond the arc. Of that quartet, only Middleton was looked at as being a starting caliber player; he’s a free agent, and Ilyasova has been traded to the Detroit Pistons.
In conclusion, Jason Kidd has instilled the kind of mindset and on-court game plan that has allowed the team to improve both offensively and defensively. The hard-nosed, high pressure approach on defense in particular was an absolutely perfect way to use the team’s core of athletic and lanky players. While they were an elite defensive core during his first year, it would seem obvious that they’ll continue to improve as that young talent (Antetokounmpo, Parker, Middleton and Carter-Williams) will continue to grow and progress as a fine-tuned core.
Although the team’s offense still had its struggles, the high player movement approach also suits the team’s core of young athletic players to an absolute tee. However, the Bucks offense is still a work in progress. They’ll need to either add floor spacers or hope that somebody like Antetokounmpo or Jabari Parker will develop as perimeter weapons.
Jason Kidd made a huge impact during his debut season with the Bucks, but there’s still a long ways to go before the team is able to reach their ultimate goal.