The Bucks are off to an impressive 3-1 start after the opening week. Giannis Antetokounmpo has had an incredible start to his season, leading the league in points thus far, and breaking the franchises record for most points in the first four games. Obviously, Giannis is this team’s face of the franchise until he wants to be done. Robin of the Week will discuss the incredibly important, sidekick for the MVP candidate. Every team’s best player needs someone to step in and be his hero, so that he can be the fanbases hero.
This week, the Bucks second best player was Tony Snell, who averaged 11 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and one steal per game. He was the most consistent Buck, playing tough defense, and taking smart shots on offense. His worst shooting performance came against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he shot 3-7 overall for a .429 percentage. Overall, he averaged .593 from the field, and .467 on four shots per game from the three point line.
So far this season, the second year Buck continues to play within his ‘shooter’ role for Milwaukee. He’s averaging the same amount of shot attempts, 6.8, as last season, but he’s scoring 2.5 more points per game. His hot start can be contributed to two things. One, he’s just having one of those fun weeks to be a shooter. Two, more importantly, Snell has added skills to his game that will help him polish his ‘shooter’ role.
Last season, Snell didn’t move much, outside of moving to the plan of the offense. This contributed to Milwaukee having three players tucked on one half of the court, making cross court kick out passes difficult. He’s since added the mobility shooters need to be at their most productive. If you watch this Giannis Antetokounmpo highlight reel from last season, you’ll see Snell stationary at the three point line. Now, if you watch this Giannis Antetokounmpo highlight reel from Saturday’s Portland game, you’ll see the improved ‘shooter’ Snell.
Coach Kidd and the staff, ran a play against Portland where Snell gets a screen from Giannis, cuts through the lane, to the far side of the floor. Then curled off two Bucks screens to swing to the top of the three point line. As Snell cut through, Giannis sets a screen for Brogdon, rolls, gets the ball. Then, takes it to the block, pump fakes, lays it in. During Giannis’ drive, Snell went around the world, moving to the open spot on the near side of the floor, giving Giannis an easy kick out for three, should he need it.
There wasn’t a Trailblazer within fifteen feet of the newly signed wing. That’s what movement on the perimeter can get you. Last season, it’d been very likely he stops at the top of the arch, forcing Giannis to be aggressive around the rim. Potentially putting Giannis in a high turnover, or difficult shot situation. What a difference.
This is shooter 101 stuff, but he needed an alternative to moving on the perimeter, or he’d still be easily guardable. Adding the back cut has allowed him to get easy, open looks at the rim. Last season, if he got a look at the rim, it was due to his half the court being wide open, or a transition look. Against the Hornets, Snell cut to the rim, received the ball and either put in it, or went to the line, at least three times. He ended with 13 points, without hitting a three. That would be unheard of in 16-17.
The athletic wing made his first trips to the line against the Hornets in 17-18. He shot 5-5. It was only one game, but if he continues to get looks cutting to the rim, he’ll probably get to the line more this season. Getting to the line helps ‘shooters’ a ton. Obviously, if his shot isn’t dropping, getting to the line could jump his engine. Drawing fouls, also makes the defender think twice about his close out, his contest, and how much room he needs to give to stay out of foul trouble. Any consistent bit of offense Milwaukee can produce without Giannis throwing his body around, would be a welcomed addition. They look like a playoff team through one week, those points could be the difference between last season’s first round exit, and a match up against LeBron.
On the defensive end, he’s been the same lanky trustable wing defender. Milwaukee’s switching defense has a lot better chance when you’re starting five is Malcolm Brogdon-Khris Middleton-Snell-Giannis-Thon Maker. All five players can kick out to the corner three, force a contested look, or reverse pass, and recover back to their man. It’s not easy to find an athletic, long armed wing who is locked in on defense, doesn’t foul, and is willing to pave his game to fit with the team’s best player. Kawhii Leonard’s friend group is as good as any place to look.
At this point, it’d be difficult to make an argument that the 25 year old is going to drop off after signing his contract. He’s added very useful skills for his team’s success on offense, and continues to be his sturdy self on the defense end. He may go through a shooting slump, but he’s not going to hurt the team.