Who is the long term #2 for the Bucks offense?
Through four games two things are apparent about the Bucks offense. Firstly, Giannis is a transcendent player more than capable of fulfilling the demands of a number one banana in an offense. And secondly, Khris Middleton is probably not a second option you can ride deep into the playoffs. That leaves us with the omnipresent question, is Jabari good enough to be a team’s second option in an offense? I like to consider myself an optimist so I’m going to take the fairytale route and block out any thought of another serious injury in Jabari’s future. Bucks fans seem to forget that less than a year ago Jabari was putting up 20 PPG on 50% shooting and was on the cuff of an all-star appearance. His game is only going to improve and his drive to get better somehow seems to match that of our savior Giannis Antetokounmpo. As many seem to be panicking, I am comfortable sitting on our number 2 overall draft pick.
Who should be and who will be the long term #2 option for MKE’s offense are two distinct questions. The assumption that Antetokounmpo is the team’s #1 is as safe one. He is not going anywhere. With that said, the team’s number #2 option need not be one of volume scoring; rather one who adequately compliments Giannis. As of now, that option should be Khris Middleton.
It is important to note that a successful offensive player does not need to light the stat sheet. In order for this Giannis-System to work, Khris simply needs to spread the floor. Giannis needs space, and space on the basketball floor can best be achieved by the cons-
sistent threat of threes. Right now, on this roster, Khris should be, and must be, that consistent threat. The second option needs to be a threat point shorter.
Through these first 4 games however, my level of belief that Khris will become that option equate my belief in Brett Hundley will completing a pass:
Moderate to low. Ask me again in two months.
When trying to predict the Bucks long-term #2 scoring option, I took the route of looking at potential of young guys on the team, and I think Thon Maker has the best ability to fill into that role. It is hard to think of Thon as an elite scorer as he shows inconsistencies shooting the three plus he still is trying to fill into his 7’2 frame, despite that, the potential in Thon is impressive. Thon can already knock down the three and outreach defenders in the post, but if he can show the physical maturity similar to Giannis’ progression there can be two freaks on the court at the same time. Even moreso if Thon can be the seven-footer who can consistently knock down jumpers in the Bucks system, there will be even less pressure for Giannis to develop a consistent jumpshot, causing defenders more headaches trying to defend Milwaukee. Thon is already a mismatch for most big men in the NBA, but it appears for Maker in a limited sample size this season that the game has slowed down for him and he looks more coordinated running the floor. It may not be immediate, but in the long-term I think Milwaukee needs Thon to develop into an all-star caliber scorer to be most successful.
I do not believe the #2 option on offense is currently on the roster (Bledsoe??). If I had to pick, however, off this iteration of the roster – I would select Jabari. The ease with which Jabari scores is not something that grows on trees; fo scoring is an extremely valuable skill in the NBA, despite what the Derozan hate club might have you think. Jabari put up 20.1 PPG last year on a 56.1 TS%. Both of those marks solidified him as an above average scorer. The fact that he was also able to boost his assist percentage shows that he was able to create shots, too. The Bucks desperately miss his offense during the dry spells they’ve had this season. They could use his athleticism as a cutter with the space they are generating. The Bucks #2 on offense long term might not be on the roster, but Jabari can fill the role until he gets here.