For a young team that has been hovering around .500 the entire season, it appears that the Bucks are receiving more and more attention around the league as the season progresses.
Most of the hype can be attributed to the rise of Milwaukee’s young stars in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Both have been in the top ten for All-Star voting at this point in the season, and the Greek Freak has the fifth most votes in the league so far.
While some players have taken strides this year to improve, others have simply been consistent or have even had their role decrease this year. Midseason grades for the Bucks have arrived.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: A
Antetokounmpo has not only embraced his role as the leader of this team, but has stepped into the limelight of the league. He was the first Buck to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated since 1982, and will likely soon make Milwaukee’s first All-Star appearance since 2004, when Michael Redd made a one-time appearance. Giannis is 13th in the league in scoring, averaging 23 points per game, and is the only player in the league to lead his team in points, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals. His jump shot has clearly improved as he is shooting a respectable 30% from the three point line and 53% from the field. He also proved his ability to make plays in the clutch with his buzzer beater in New York this week, which gave him plenty of national attention. His drastic improvement this year has been impressive, but it will be interesting to see how much more he can develop.
Previous grade: A-
Michael Beasley: C
After a solid month of November, Beasley missed a stretch of six games in December due to injury. When healthy, he continued to play the role of a bench scorer, but his efficiency seemed to decrease. He has only scored in double figures once since December 9th, and in that stretch, he only shot over 50% from the field once. Beasley remains an option off the bench, but until he can provide consistent scoring his role will remain limited.
Previous grade: B
Malcolm Brogdon: A-
At 24 years old, this rookie is older than both Parker and Antetokounmpo. His experience has been a key attribute to his outstanding play, and Brogdon has been a candidate for Rookie of the Year behind only Joel Embiid. After Dellavedova left the lineup with injury, Brogdon stepped up and recorded his first triple double of his career. Brogdon has averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 assists per game on the year, but in the last five games he scored in double figures in every game and has averaged 6.8 assists. Don’t be surprised if Brogdon remains in the starting lineup when Delly returns.
Previous grade: B+
Matthew Dellavedova: C+
Delly has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury, but prior to that, his play in December was anything but spectacular. While he has stayed in his role by limiting the number of shots he takes and by being a playmaker, Dellaveova struggled to shoot the ball and play consistent defense. The Bucks are a team that struggles to shoot the three ball, and Delly is shooting just 33% on the year, which is by far the worst percentage of his career. He has averaged 5.6 assists per game this year, but this also dropped in December down to 4.8. In Cleveland he was known as a scrappy defensive player, and this remains the same in Milwaukee, but at times he has clearly struggled to stay with top tier point guards. In order for him to stay in the starting lineup, he will need to play with the same defensive prowess that he did against Steph Curry in the NBA Finals, which earned him most of his credibility in the league in the first place.
Previous grade: B
John Henson: B-
Henson no longer has to worry about competing for minutes with Miles Plumlee, who has moved to the end of the bench, but Greg Monroe’s consistent offensive play has limited the playing time of Henson. While he initially embraced his starting role with 20 point scoring outbreaks against Orlando and Brooklyn, he has only scored in double figures four times since December 3rd. Henson has been in the starting lineup for over a month, but still has not recorded 30 minutes in a game. Milwaukee doesn’t need Henson to put up big scoring numbers, but the big man has only had to games this season with 10 or more rebounds, and doesn’t even lead the team in blocked shots. Henson will continue to start, but for the Bucks to continue to improve, they will need more productivity out of the starting center position.
Previous grade: C+
Thon Maker: C+
Maker’s season has been highlighted by garbage time minutes and lots of encouragement from the bench. He has gotten lots of praise for his work ethic and potential from experts and former players such as Kevin Garnett, but remains out of the lineup due to his physical attributes and lack of experience. When he does get in the game he gets pushed around going for rebounds, and lacks defensive discipline. However, he has proven that he can excel at getting up and down the court and stretching the floor. Until Thon can get decent minutes and contribute on a daily basis, it will be difficult to give him an accurate grade.
Previous grade: C
Greg Monroe: B+
After being moved to the bench, there was speculation that Monroe would be traded before the All-Star break this season. Those rumors have been silenced as Monroe seems to have embraced his role coming off the bench. He may not be a rim protector, but his offensive efficiency and ability to rebound have been valuable assets for the Bucks. His scoring, minutes and rebounds continue to increase as the year goes on, but don’t expect Monroe to start any time soon. Monroe claims that he enjoys his role out of the starting lineup, and appears to mesh well with bench players such as Malcolm Brogdon. As long as Greg Monroe continues to be a threat in the post and Milwaukee keeps winning, Monroe won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Previous grade: C-
Jabari Parker: A-
While Giannis is claiming all the attention from the media, Jabari is quietly having an All-Star caliber season. He is averaging 20.4 points per game, and has developed an impressive jump shot. Parker is shooting 40.3% from the three point line, which is 15% better than last season. While his scoring has only went up about two points per game since November, he has shot the ball much more consistently in that stretch, improving from 46% from the field in November to 55% in December. Parker and Antetokounmpo seem to go hand in hand for scoring options, and the duo is nearly impossible to stop in transition. Like Giannis, Parker has had a breakout year, but still has plenty to improve on.
Previous grade: A-
Miles Plumlee: F
Ever since being replaced by Henson in the starting lineup, Plumlee has not only lost minutes, but has fell out of the daily rotation. He hasn’t logged more than 11 minutes in a game since November, and has only appeared in about half of the Bucks games. He could retain some of his minutes if Henson or Monroe were to get injured or if Jason Kidd feels that his performance in practice has improved, otherwise Plumlee will likely be riding the bench for the rest of the year.
Previous grade: D-
Tony Snell: B
Snell has remained in the starting lineup ever since being acquired from Chicago. He has stayed in his role by opening the paint up for Giannis and Jabari by hitting threes and playing lock-down defense, but is clearly nothing more than a replacement for Khris Middleton. Snell is having a career year, averaging more minutes points and has a higher field goal percentage than he ever did in Chicago. However, he is still only shooting 34% from the three point line, and only averages 8.3 points per game. Snell will be a valued player off the bench when Middleton returns to the lineup, but until then, Milwaukee can only hope that Snell’s three point shooting improves.
Previous Grade: B+
Mirza Teletovic: C
Not much has changed in Teletovic’s role in the offense for the Bucks or his performance as a whole. He continues have streaky games and often takes questionable shots that hurt the team. While 38% from three is respectable, it may not be worth the $10 million that Milwaukee is paying Teletovic. The Bucks need him to get his shooting percentages into the 45% range in order for him to be a more effective threat off the bench.
Previous grade: C+
Jason Terry: B
Terry doesn’t score a lot of points, and he won’t show up in most of the highlight plays (unless he’s throwing alley-oops to Parker or Giannis), but he is a veteran leader that brings an attitude to the team. He is a vital aspect for this young team, whose star players are all under 25 years old. To add to this, his three point shooting continues to improve as the season goes on. If he can consistently provide shooting and leadership off the bench, Terry will have fulfilled his role on this team.
Previous grade: B+
Rashad Vaughn: D-
Vaughn only contributed in one game in December where he scored eight points in 16 minutes against Cleveland. Outside of that game, Vaughn has rode the bench, and even spent some time in the Development League. It’s tough to say if Vaughn will contribute at all this year, or if he will even remain on this team in the future.
Previous grade: D