The Bucks made a big change during the year, swapping the size and defense of Andrew Bogut for the, um, opposite in Monta Ellis. They are 29-33 and will likely just miss the playoffs. Their Pythagorean record of 31.7 - 30.3 reflects the fact that they are a middle-of-the-pack team.
As a kid growing up in Bloomington in the 80s, I was a Bucks fan. Yes kids, there was a time before the Timberwolves existed. The Wolves came into being as I headed off to college, and I immediately switched my allegiance and haven't turned back. Now I live in Wisconsin, so I can watch the Bucks most anytime I want to. I find that I rarely want to though, so what you'll read here is based much more on stats than watching their games. Should any actual Bucks fans read this, know that I wrote it with at least some residual affection for the team.
On to some tables that describe how they've played.
The table below contains the "four factors" and a little more. I was surprised to see that the Bucks play at the third highest pace in the league. Otherwise they look, as their record suggests, pretty mediocre across the board.
The next table shows where the Bucks' shot locations, compared to their opponents and the league as a whole. They're a little better than average at getting to the rim, but they allow their opponents to do the same.
|At Rim||3-9 Ft||10-15 Ft||16-23 Ft||3-Pt|
The table below shows their field goal percentage by location. Though they do a decent job of getting to the rim, they don't do so well once they get there. They're a pretty average jump shooting team.
|At Rim||3-9 Ft||10-15 Ft||16-23 Ft||3-Pt|
The table below shows their NBA rank for a variety of statistics (1 is always the best, not the highest). They are adjusted for pace where appropriate. They don't appear to be a very good defensive team and they are a bad defensive rebounding team. They do quite well on assists and turnovers.
The table below shows a range of statistics and 2012-3 salary status for the team.
|Player||Age||G||GS||MP||PER||TS%||WS/48||WP48||+/- per 100 poss||2012-3|
|Luc Mbah a Moute||25||42||21||966||14.2||0.548||0.112||0.134||1.26||$4.8m|
|Jon Leuer||22||43||10||498||15.3||0.532||0.119||0.092||3.38||$0.8m NG|
|Shaun Livingston||26||54||24||989||11.6||0.531||0.063||0.087||-4.89||$3.5m, $1m G|
|Beno Udrih||29||55||0||995||13.6||0.495||0.068||0.085||15.89||$7.3m ETO|
Ilyasova has improved his stats considerably this year, and has been their best player by a few measures. Dunleavy has proven to be a very good free agent acquisition. Draft picks Harris and Leuer haven't been big factors (though Leuer made a very good early impression) and probably won't be in the future, either.
The plus/minus data are really interesting for the Bucks. It looks like the starters (primarily Gooden, Delfino, and Jennings) dig a huge hole that the reserves get them back out of. I checked basketballvalue.com and I don't see another team like that this year. Dunleavy, Udrih, and Sanders have some of the highest +/- values in the league. Delfino, Jennings, and Gooden have three of the lowest +/- values in the league. Strange things are happening in Milwaukee.
The Bucks are not in salary cap hell, with $45.8 million in guaranteed salary for next year. The big problem: Ilyasova will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Also, Jennings is entering the last year of his contract, so they'll need to make a decision on him. Delfino will also be a UFA, but he may not be a big loss. Gooden is an amnesty candidate, with $20 million guaranteed to him over the next three seasons.
So for next year, they need to re-sign Ilyasova. They don't have a true center, with Gooden starting there now and a slew of skinny tall guys on the bench (Udoh, Leuer, Sanders). Jennings and Ellis form a dynamic, if not entirely effective backcourt. They will likely have a low lottery pick this year. I imagine that between the draft and free agency, they'll be looking hard at centers and small forwards.
This is the kind of team many CH posters dread rooting for. The Bucks are a decent team with some talent. They have no stars. They will probably not attract a top free agent. They will probably not pick at the top of the draft. Yet, they've been in the playoff race for a long time and could very well do the same next year. But no one would pick them to win a series, let alone two, or a title.
So what would you do if you ran the team? They could blow it up, tank for picks, and see what fate hands them for the next buildup. Or they could make the best of what they have and probably be a fringe playoff team. If you see a different, more optimistic path (i.e., making the current roster a real contender), I'd be interested in reading your ideas.