Ten games is a good chunk of the nba season, we are starting to see some trends and what makes this team different than last year’s Bucks squad.
1 Giannis Has Ascended Mount Olympus
He is no longer the Greek Freak, he is now a Greek God. He stopped being human sometime in mid-July and has gone from All-Star to MVP. He is leading the league in scoring and is doing it on an insanely efficient 60.1% from the field and 65.7% TS. All the while keeping up his ordinary stat stuffing style of play. He has scored 44 and 40 already this season prior to him getting 40 last year no Buck had done it since Jennings rookie year. The phenomenal is becoming regular for him.
2 Khris Can Have a Positive Impact Shooting Poorly
Khris Middleton is averaging 6 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, both would be career highs, and the Bucks are 19 points per 100 possessions worse when he sits. That same Khris is shooting 26.9% from 3 on a career high 5.2 three point attempts a game. He just makes his teammates better with his presence, he is a great team defender and is creating for others at a rate he has never done in his career. Labeling him a 3 & D guy would be a huge mistake, as it misses everything else he does on the court.
3 Brogdon & Snell Got Better
Both of the young Bucks had “breakout” years last year, but they have come back after summers in the gym and have shown improvements in their games. Both are scorching the nets from three, but the really impressive thing is the improvements they have made elsewhere. Both are scoring more efficiently at the rim and seem to be a little more well rounded on offense. Snell and Brogdon were both supposed to be tapped out in terms of upside, because Brogdon was 24 and Snell had just finished his fourth year.
4 Thon Isn’t There Yet
Thon is a personal darling of mine, I love his upside and his fit on the team, I think he can be a great starter in this league. He has been pretty objectively horrible this season. He is still rail thin and is getting abused as a result when he tries to guard bigger centers. Maker’s rebounding rates are down, block rate is down, finishing at the rim is down, turnover rate is up. The only thing he has been good at is shooting and his volume from there is so lackluster, guys have totally abandoned guarding him on the perimeter at times.
5 Kidd’s Defense Is On Its Last Legs
The defense has been horrible through ten games. They are not conceding as much from three, but they are being exploited inside. They really struggle even against poor offensive teams to stop scoring.This shouldn’t be happening, they start guys who should be good defenders and bring more good defenders off the bench. This system has also led to increased fouling as the defense is off balance constantly. If Kidd can’t reign it in, his job should be on the line.
6 Bucks Bad Contracts Flipped
When last season ended it looked like the Bucks had three bad contracts: Mirza Teletovic, John Henson, and Matthew Dellavedova. Henson was by far the least valuable, being both bad and almost entirely out of the rotation. Mirza was halfway in and halfway out of the rotation, but Delly was a key contributor even if he was overpaid. Ten games in their order of value has flipped, Delly will be almost out of the rotation when Bledsoe gets here. Telly is about the same (maybe with Beas gone and Telly shooting better he is more valuable) and Henson has become the starting center and has played replacement level center. With Monroe gone Henson is the only center the Bucks have besides Thon, both these guys being foul prone makes the other important.
7 Horst Is Here
Jon Horst made his first big trade, and really the Bucks first risky move since the Knight trade. The deal itself seems like a steal, but it is important to remember how it impacts the Bucks ability to pay Jabari Parker this summer while staying out of the tax. Horst will need to put his reputation as a “salary cap guru” to the test this summer. The protections on the pick are interesting too, I’d wonder if we ever get a post mortem on the trade where we find out who asked for what protections.
8 Kidd Fails To Scream At Refs
The classic theory that if you get a technical from the refs the call will shift your way, might not be one that Jason Kidd subscribes to. Much to the chagrin of Bucks fans he has not “gone to bat” for Giannis (or anyone else) yet where he truly loses it on a ref. He does work them and talks to them, but no technicals….yet. I’m not a fan of blaming the outcome of games on refs, but the Bucks have been on the receiving end of some bad calls this year, in my humble opinion at least. These things tend to average out though, I think Kidd will get a technical sooner or later, Kidd will never be mistaken for a Zen Master.
9 Celtics Might Be The Team To Beat
Since losing to the Bucks on a back to back the night after losing star forward Gordon Hayward, the Celtics have won ten straight. This includes a methodical beatdown of the Bucks in the Mecca, a game that wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate. Stevens being such a good coach is evident when your team is getting outplayed by Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis. With the Cavs out to a slow start, the Celtics might run away with the one seed in the East, depending on your opinion on the current second and third place teams (Detroit and Orlando respectively).
10 Bucks Are Not There Yet
Their slow start is only part of the evidence, while the Bucks have abandoned #OwnTheFuture I don’t think the upper echelon of the league is ready to #FearTheDeer yet. Between the beatdown the Thunder gave the Bucks and the Bucks lack of consistency there is just no telling which team will show up. A lot of that is the fact that the Bucks will get scored on by anybody. They don’t have the ability to go on extended runs, because they will give up a bucket sooner rather than later. This isn’t an obituary though, they are young and have a while to figure it out.
Ten games isn’t a great sample, hopefully the Bucks keep up the good trends and reverse the bad ones, but I won’t hold my breath on the defense finding its footing anytime soon.