Three-Point Bucks

The Bucks have been shooting a high percentage from three-point range, so should they shoot more? Plus: Previewing Giannis and Knight at All-Star Weekend.

At the All-Star Break, the Bucks are hitting 37.8 percent of their three-point baskets, the league’s third best rate. Despite the team’s success from beyond the arc, the Bucks are attempting just 18.9 three-point shots per game, the sixth fewest in the NBA.

These numbers lead to a seemingly obvious suggestion: The Bucks should shoot more threes.

In theory, this seems like a great idea, but it’s not that simple. Simply chucking long distance shots at the rim doesn’t make a team better. A team’s three-point shooting percentage doesn’t remain constant when taking more and more shots. For the Bucks to continue to shoot a high percentage from deep, they have to continue to generate high quality looks.

The basketball analytics community says the best type of three to take is the catch-and-shoot three.The Bucks have excelled in this aspect of shot creation as 76.84 percent of the Bucks three point attempts are of the catch-and-shoot variety — the league’s ninth highest rate. Jared Dudley, Khris Middleton, and Brandon Knight all shoot over 41 percent and find themselves in the league’s Top 30 in shooting percentage in these situations. This is one of the major reasons the Bucks have shot the basketball so well from long range this season, but also one of the reasons why upping the team’s number of three-point shot attempts might not be the best decision.

If the Bucks want to start shooting more threes, they’ll have to find a way to generate more three-point attempts. The first thing that they could try would be to turn some of their catch-and-shoot mid-range jumpers a few steps back beyond the three-point line, but that may be more difficult than it seems, as the Bucks’ current spacing and ball movement tends to give players some quality looks from the mid-range. Turning those shots into three-point attempts would require fundamental changes to the Bucks’ offensive system.

A second way to create more three point attempts would be to encourage Bucks shooters to take more threes off the dribble. The only Bucks players that attempt a significant number of these shots are Brandon Knight (2.1 per game) and O.J. Mayo (.9 per game). Bucks players could create off-the-dribble threes by side-stepping on over-aggressive close-outs instead of attacking the rim, but again, that would completely change the Bucks’ offensive flow.

Fan bases almost always want to see their team shoot more threes, but adding more shots from deep is often much more difficult than it seems. To invest more heavily in three-point baskets, the Bucks would need to make significant changes to their current offensive game plan.

What to Read

Antetokounmpo taking note of what makes a great player – Long-time NBA writer Steve Aschburner took some time to catch up with Antetokounmpo to figure out what makes him such a special player and found that Giannis has a new habit that may help him develop a little bit quicker mentally.

In Praise of Giannis, Jared Dudley and Khris Middleton: The Swiss Army Knives of the Milwaukee Bucks – Grantland’s Brett Koremenos examined why the Bucks defense has been so special lately and came to highlight many of the things we’ve covered in this space this season including Jared Dudley’s voice and some of the ridiculous rotations employed by Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is changing the game – SB Nation’s Mike Prada breaks down a play Antetokounmpo made a few months ago and why that play convinced him that we’ve never seen anyone like him before.

Clip of the Week

Giannis stepping confidently into jumpers is a pretty sight. Be sure to enjoy it at 1:00, 1:55, and 2:12.

Week in Review

Friday – Despite a great game from Antetokounmpo (27 points, 15 rebounds), the Houston Rockets were just too much for the Bucks defeating Milwaukee 117-111. Houston snapped the Bucks’ five-game winning streak behind a 33-point game from MVP candidate James Harden.

Saturday – With a capacity crowd in the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Brandon Knight hit some big shots down the stretch and shut the door on the Boston Celtics 96-93.

Monday – Five Bucks scored in double digits as Milwaukee defeated the Brooklyn Nets 103-97. The Bucks have defeated Jason Kidd’s former team in both contests this season.

Wednesday – Amid coaching turmoil, the Sacramento Kings traveled to Milwaukee and fell to the Bucks despite 28 points and 19 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins.

Next Week’s Preview

Friday – Antetokounmpo will participate in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge as a member of the World Team.  Giannis catching alley-oops from the Umlaut, throwing alley-oops to Wiggins, leading the break with Exum, and finding Mirotic in the corner for three. All while Nurkic jaws on the sideline. Should be fun.

Saturday – Though he wasn’t selected as an All-Star, Brandon Knight will compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night. Then, the DUNKS. Antetokounmpo will be in action again on Saturday night as he competes in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

Stats of the Week

13 – The Bucks are 13 points better per 100 possessions this year than they were last year at the All-Star Break.  At the break last season, the Bucks had a net rating of -10.1. This year, their net rating is 2.9. (via NBA Stats)

51 – The Bucks current effective field goal percentage (field goal percentage adjusted for the increased value of three pointers) is 51 percent. Last season, it was just 46.6 percent. It is the league’s second highest increase as only the Cleveland Cavaliers improved more from last year to this year (46.6 to 51.2 percent). (via NBA Stats)

41.2 – Among players that have played in at least 25 games this season and attempt at least one pull three per game, Brandon Knight is shooting the league’s seventh most accurate. At 41.2 percent, Knight only trails Durant, Thompson, Lin, Brooks, Curry, and Lawson. (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 tell him why Ray Allen didn’t represent the Bucks better in the 1997 Dunk Contest on Twitter @eric_nehm.