Bucks Bench Bounces Back

The Bucks’ bench was a big reason for the team’s success early in the season. After a rough stretch riddled with injuries, the bench mob is healthy and producing.

Don’t look now, Eastern Conference. The Bucks’ bench might be back.

One of the biggest storylines in Milwaukee since the All-Star Break has been the disappearing act of the Bucks’ once-great bench. Before the All-Star Break, the Bucks had one of the league’s best benches with O.J. Mayo, Jared Dudley, and Jerryd Bayless all making significant contributions. Together, Bucks reserves were combining for 42.3 points per game, the league’s second highest mark.

Since the All-Star Break, the bench’s health has been a very serious concern. O.J. Mayo has missed 11 of the Bucks’ 25 games in the second “half” of the season, while Jared Dudley has missed eight games during that time and has struggled with some ailments in several of the games he did play. Bayless, too, missed three games.

The missed games, as well as the additions of Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee, has kept the bench from functioning at peak capability. There has been little stability, as each night, the bench has been forced to play with a different lineup and incorporate different players into their unit.

From the All-Star Break until the end of March, the bench scored just 25.7 points per game (28th in NBA) on 39.6 percent field goal shooting and just 27.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc. It just seemed like no matter what the Bucks would do, the bench could not get going.

This has changed since the start of April. In the Bucks’ four April games the bench mob has nearly returned to its pre-All Star Break form, shooting almost 54 percent from the field and 38 percent from three. Though they haven’t returned to pre-All-Star Break heights, they have scored nearly 36 points per game in their last four games.

Much of this resurgence has been led by O.J. Mayo, who has averaged more than 15 points per game and shot 47.6 percent during the four-game stretch. For a majority of this season, the Bucks bench has gone as Mayo as gone. When he’s been good, the bench has been good too.

The recent play of John Henson has also been encouraging. Consistency has never been a strength for the former North Carolina Tar Heel, but Henson has played well in the month of April after a lackluster March. Henson has scored in double digits in three of the last four games and has blocked eight shots as well.

It may have taken a little bit longer than anyone might have wanted, but it appears that the Bucks bench might have figured out how to work together with just a week left in the season. And that should be a scary thing for any of the Bucks’ potential playoff opponents.

What to Read

Michael Carter-Williams is taking “better” shots, but his inefficiency has gotten even worse – Recently, Carter-Williams has had a few big games and it may have seemed as though he is turning the corner, but Dan Sinclair at Brew Hoop took a closer look at the numbers and found that little has changed for Carter-Williams offensively.

Bucks announce game-changing $1 billion arena package – Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the story of the week as he wrote about the Bucks’ brand new plans for a $1 billion arena project. The conceptual development plans are more aggressive than most were expecting.

Benching Antetokounmpo part of Kidd’s team-building plan – On Wednesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t play against the Cavaliers and no one was really sure why. The Journal-Sentinel’s Charles Gardner wrote a story about Jason Kidd’s press conference on Thursday that attempted to clear things up, but seemingly just made things even more confusing.

Plus: here at Milwaukee Magazine, Dan Shafer wrote about the news of the Bucks’ arena and ancillary development plans, Matt Hrodey wrote about the “other Bradley Center,” and Howie Magner wrote about the ambition of these new plans.

Clip of the Week

I have not been shy in discussing my adoration for Jared Dudley in this space and today is no different. In the clip, you will see Dudley beautifully run a slow trail lane for a wide-open attempt from the three point line, get great width and make the right pass on a fastbreak, and finally move up the floor and set a great screen on an O.J. Mayo three. Beautiful, smart basketball.

Week in Review

Friday – Seven Bucks players scored in double digits and the Bucks took care of business in Boston beating the Celtics 110-101. O.J. Mayo hit nine of 13 shots, scoring 24 points.

Saturday – As he has done a few times since going to Orlando, Tobias Harris led the Magic to a 97-90 victory over the Bucks.

Wednesday – In a tough matchup against Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, Michael Carter-Williams had a great game scoring 30 points and assisting on eight Bucks baskets. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Bucks fell to the Cavaliers 104-99.

Next Week’s Preview

Friday – The Bucks will try to break their two-game losing skid against the league’s worst team, the New York Knicks, who have yet to beat the Bucks in three tries this season.

Sunday – After a trip to New York, the Bucks will return home for a battle against the Brooklyn Nets, who may still be fighting to maintain the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Monday – The Bucks will head to the City of Brotherly Love in an attempt to pick up their fourth win of the season against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers.

Wednesday – In their regular season finale, the Bucks will play their final home game against the Boston Celtics, who, like the Nets, may be fighting for their postseason lives.

Stats of the Week

11 – Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of 11 players in the last ten years to average at least 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists in the first or second year of his career. (via Basketball-Reference)

13.2 – The Milwaukee Bucks version of Michael Carter-Williams is creating 13.2 points per game on drives — the league’s fifth highest total. (via NBA Stats)

3.09 – Though some doubt Real Plus-Minus and what it may or may not prove, it is fun to see Bucks players near the top of a statistical category and Zaza Pachulia is 21st overall and eighth among centers at 3.09 in defensive real plus-minus.

Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can yell at Eric or calmly tell him why you are not buying all of the Bucks playoff tickets on Twitter @eric_nehm.