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Before the Bucks head to the playoffs to face the Chicago Bulls, we're handing out some hardware.

The regular season is complete. Before we preview the Bucks’ upcoming playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, let’s take a look back at the season that was and hand out some awards.

The Skyhook Award (Best Play)

“That was absolutely spectacular!” – Jon McGlocklin

Despite some other very worthy contenders, Khris Middleton takes home this year’s Skyhook with his incredible game-winner against the Miami Heat on March 24, 2015.

It’s probably a mistake to call it Middleton’s game-winner though as so much went into the play. The play starts with Bayless beating the much taller Beasley on the jump ball and ends with an unbelievable save from Zaza Pachulia to find an open Middleton on the three point line.

The Double Headband Award (Best Performance in a Contract Year)

The Bucks didn’t have many players eligible for the Double Headband this season, but two players emerged as worthy candidates a month into the season. As restricted free agents, Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton weren’t playing for a new contract, but rather the amount that the Bucks would match after an opposing team made an offer.

At the All-Star Break, the Bucks decided to trade Brandon Knight and ultimately, that is what makes him the winner of this year’s Double Headband. Knight was putting up such good numbers as the Bucks’ main offensive weapon that the Bucks knew they needed to make a trade because they didn’t want to pay him the money coming his way in the offseason.

The Skip to My Lou Award (Most Egregious Turnover)

Unfortunately, the Bucks had multiple candidates for the Skip to My Lou this season, but it has to go to Michael Carter-Williams’ alley-oop to Jerryd Bayless.

There is just too much to like in this clip. Michael Carter-Williams’ confidence. Jerryd Bayless looking longingly at the ball landing out of bounds after deciding not to get off the ground. The completely unmoved Bradley Center crowd. It’s just such a perfectly terrible turnover.

The Kurt Thomas Award  (Best Veteran)

This space has been full of love for Jared Dudley all season long, so it seems logical for him to run away with the first ever Kurt Thomas Award. Unfortunately (for Dudley), the Bucks also have a center from the Republic of Georgia in his 12th NBA season and that center has been one of the team’s steadiest players.

Zaza Pachulia has been absolutely vital to the Bucks this season, playing in 73 games, his highest mark since 2011.

Though Pachulia doesn’t block shots like Larry Sanders or John Henson, Pachulia was successfully able to helm the Bucks defense by executing the help schemes and rotations in the Bucks aggressive defensive scheme. His elbow touches and mid-range jumpers were essential to an offense that struggled to create shots throughout the season.

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MVB (Most Valuable Buck)

The inaugural winner of the MVB came down to just two players – Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Both have compelling cases.

PPG RPG APG STL BLK 3PT % 3PA FG % FGA FT % FTA
Antetokounmpo 12.7 6.7 2.6 .9 1 15.9 .5 49.1 9.6 74.1 4.3
Middleton 13.4 4.4 2.3 1.5 .1 40.7 3.4 46.7 11 85.9 2

 

When examining per-game numbers, there isn’t a discernible difference between the value provided by the two players. While Middleton is better behind the three-point line, Antetokounmpo is better at getting to the free-throw line. Both players appear solid defensively as well, but the true differences appear when looking at advanced stats.

On/Off Statistics Antetokounmpo Middleton
ORtg DRtg NetRtg ORtg DRtg NetRtg
On the Floor 100.8 99.7 1.1 102.9 96 6.9
Off the Floor 100.1 98.7 1.4 97 104.1 -7.1

 

Here we see the profound effect Khris Middleton had on the Bucks this season. For every 100 possessions, the Bucks were 14 points better with Khris Middleton on the floor. That is an insane difference for a single player.

If you’re not convinced by the numbers, the eye test should be just as effective. The Bucks were nearly unwatchable with Middleton on the bench this season. Without Middleton on the floor, the offense came to a grinding halt and the defense never looked quite as crisp.

It’s close, and Antetokounmpo is probably next year’s frontrunner, but for the 2014-15 season, Khris Middleton is the MVB.

 

What to Read

How the Bucks’ redesign was born – Paul Lukas (of UniWatch fame) was given exclusive access to the designers of the Bucks’ new logos and told the story of how a small design firm from Brooklyn was allowed to design the logos and jerseys of a NBA team.

Jabari Parker making “good progress” in rehab from ACL tear – No one is really sure of a specific timeline on Parker’s return from his ACL injury, but Brew Hoop’s Aron Yohannes reports that Parker is in good spirits and still quite invested in the Bucks’ playoff run.

Michael Carter-Williams a good fit for Bucks – Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal explains why the last two weeks show exactly why Michael Carter-Williams is a great fit for this young Bucks team.

Week in Review

Friday – Giannis Antetokounmpo was in attack mode all night against the New York Knicks and went to the line 11 times on his way to a 23 point, nine rebound performance in the Bucks’ 99-91 victory.

Sunday – Despite fighting for their playoff lives, the Brooklyn Nets failed to show up against the Bucks over the weekend and fell 96-73. The Bucks shot nearly 50 percent from the field, while the Nets hit just three of 18 three-point attempts.

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Monday – Michael Carter-Williams went off in his second game against his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks’ point guard put up 30 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals, leading the Bucks to a 107-97 win.

Wednesday – The Boston Celtics picked up their 19th victory since the All-Star Break with a 105-100 victory. The game was close through three quarters, but the Bucks’ key rotation players saw limited minutes and their reserves couldn’t keep up with the Celtics in the final session.

Playoff Series Preview

Regular Season Meetings
November 5, 2014 (Home) Chicago 95, Milwaukee 86 L
January 10, 2015 (Away) Chicago 95, Milwaukee 87 L
February 23, 2015 (Away) Chicago 87, Milwaukee 71 L
April 1, 2015 (Home) Milwaukee 95, Chicago 91 W

 

Last 10 Post All-Star Break Vs. Other Team
ORtg DRtg W-L ORtg DRtg W-L 3PT % FG %
Milwaukee 100.4 97.5 5-5 97.5 99.4 5-5 27.7 39.1
Chicago 105.6 97.9 7-3 103.0 100.5 7-3 25.9 40.8

 

The Bucks will have their hands full in the first I-94 playoff series since 1990 when Alvin Robertson and the Bucks took on Michael Jordan and the Bulls. After stumbling after the All-Star Break, the Bulls have played well in their last ten games despite Derrick Rose playing in just half of those games.

Pau Gasol may be the key in the series. He has been a problem for the Bucks in the team’s four meetings this season, averaging 24.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game, including a 46 point, 18 rebound performance in January.

When looking at the percentages, neither team has really had all that much success against the other on the offensive end. This is good news for the Bucks, who have struggled offensively since the All-Star Break. The Bulls, however, have been pretty great defensively and have been above average on the offensive end. All in all, it could be a pretty rough series for the Bucks.

Stats of the Week

19.6 – Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a usage rate of 19.6 percent this season, which is a 4.6 percent increase from last year. (via NBA Stats)

42.4 – For the season, Khris Middleton shot 42.4 percent on catch and shoot threes, which was the league’s 23rd highest percentage. (via NBA Stats)

39.3 – Michael Carter-Williams has been the ball handler in a pick-and-roll 168 times since coming to Milwaukee. The Bucks have scored at least one point on 39.3 percent of those possessions. (via NBA Stats)

Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can yell at Eric or calmly give him your prediction for the Bucks-Bulls series on Twitter @eric_nehm.

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