There’s no doubting that without Khris Middleton, this Bucks team is Giannis and Jabari’s to run. They’ve both proven to be NBA studs, Giannis a dominant hell-raiser and Jabari a polished threat in only his second full season. Let’s put it this way, Giannis is leading the team in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks. The only other players to lead their teams in four major statistics are Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, not exactly poor company. While Jabari isn’t putting up numbers like Giannis’s inhuman performance thus far, his scoring, rebounding, and stealing ability are valued greatly for a team off to a somewhat surprising .500 start.
While Giannis and Jabari’s production are wildly impressive, if this team wants to excel, the scoring burden must be somewhat lifted off of their shoulders. There’s no doubting both of them have an innate ability score, and they take pleasure in doing so, but two commanding scorers does not a contending team make.
Let’s run through a hypothetical. Say the Bucks keep up this above average start and finish a few games over .500. That should be enough to squeak into the postseason as a seven or eight seed. That’s wonderful, they’ve made the postseason, looking back on the beginning of the year, no one expected that.
However, facing a Cleveland, Toronto, or Boston, teams who have balanced scoring and production, the Bucks will be horrendously exposed. When you have two players leading your team in scoring by an average double digit margin, their production looks stellar, as it should, but valiant production does not equal wins. Ball movement, scoring distribution, no isolation play, that equates to wins.
The Spurs, Warriors, and Cavs are all spectacular examples of this phenomenon. They’ve created systems in which sharing production is of utmost importance. If Klay’s having an off night, KD, Steph, and Draymond are there to pick up the slack. If Giannis or Jabari are having off nights, who’ll step up? Obviously, superstar level talent is not what the Bucks have at this moment in time, but nonetheless the concept is solid. If the Bucks can create a team culture rooted in ball movement, spreading the floor, and sharing the scoring burden, there could be a new team on the horizon.
Now the Bucks don’t have star talent outside of Giannis and Jabari, which is why they’re tasked with such a large scoring burden; they’re the best players on the team. But if the Bucks want to contend for a playoff spot at all, they need to rework their offense and get more players involved. Malcolm Brogden, Michael Beasley, Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavadova, and Greg Monroe are all averaging between seven and nine points per game, if those numbers were 10 to 12, and Giannis and Jabari’s numbers dropped slightly, I don’t see that as harmful whatsoever. A more versatile offense means wins.