January was a month for the Bucks to forget. They managed to win just five games, and fell out of the playoff hunt in the process.
So February can’t be much worse right? The Bucks got Khris Middleton back and finally managed to end a five-game losing streak by scoring 137 points against Phoenix. However, they followed that astonishing performance with a devastating loss to Miami, in which Jabari Parker’s season was ended with an ACL tear.
Nevertheless, it’s not time to tank yet for the Bucks. Milwaukee is coming off two huge divisional wins against Indiana and Detroit to put them just one game out of eight place.
If the Bucks are going to contend for a playoff spot, they will need their bench to continue to perform at a high level, and Khris Middleton will need to make a miraculous comeback to assist the Bucks shooting struggles.
Check out how the players have improved or diminished since the last mid-season report.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: A-
There is no doubt that Antetokounmpo deserves to be a starter in the All-Star game next week. However, his numbers have dropped off in just about every significant category since the Bucks began this long streak of losing. Milwaukee relies on Giannis to put on a show every night, especially now that Parker is done for the year, so when he struggles the Bucks usually fail to put up points. In the month of January, Giannis scored 2.4 points less per game than he did in December. His shooting percentages decreased as well, as he shot 50.4% from the field as opposed to 54.4% the month before, along with an eight percent decrease in three point shooting. He is also averaging almost one less rebound and assist per game in January, which may not seem like much, but when your team is struggling to get wins, it becomes a point of emphasis. No matter how you look at it, Milwaukee will be missing out on about 20 points per game with Jabari Parker’s injury, so Giannis’ statistics cannot continue to slide if the Bucks have any plans of making the playoffs.
Previous Grade: A
Michael Beasley: B-
Beasley will be stepping into the role of Jabari Parker for the time being, as Jason Kidd has started him alongside Antetokounmpo at the power forward spot. On one hand, Beasley is a talented left-handed scorer that can stretch the floor and use his athleticism to his advantage. On the other hand, Beasley has only scored 15 points or more in a game seven times this year, and only once did those performances come back-to-back. Beasley is a wild-card of a player with his impressive scoring abilities. He can manage to put up 28 points one night and follow it up with a game where he doesn’t even make a shot from the field. Since Parker’s injury, Beasley has averaged 15 points per game, which is less than what Parker was scoring, but if Beasley could manage to maintain this average, it would be seen as a success.
Previous Grade: C
Malcolm Brogdon: B+
This rookie continues to get more minutes and play a bigger role in the Bucks offense. It’s upsetting that Jason Kidd put Brogdon back on the bench when Dellavedova returned from injury, as Brogdon appears to be the Bucks point guard for the future. However, his production off the bench and the connection he has with those bench players has been key in most of Milwaukee’s wins. Like all the other Bucks players, Brogdon’s productivity decreased in the last month, mainly in his three point shooting. In December, Brogdon shot 50 percent from the three point line, which was near the top in the league. But in January, he shot just 37.2 percent from deep. Despite this, each game this Virginia graduate plays, he looks less and less like a rookie, and more like a point guard that the Bucks will rely on for years to come.
Previous Grade: A-
Matthew Dellavedova: C+
Despite Malcolm Brogdon averaging more points per game and having a Player Efficiency Rating that is 3.81 points higher than Dellavedova, Jason Kidd continues to start Delly. Outside of Antetokounmpo and Parker’s scoring numbers, the Bucks’ starting lineup scored just 22.7 points per game (assuming Dellavedova, Henson and Snell are the other starters). Milwaukee needs a playmaker in the back-court, but they also need another scoring option, which Delly clearly is not. He has failed to put up double figures in the Bucks last seven games, and in that stretch he averaged .5 less assists than his season average of 5.2. Dellavedova fits well as a backup point guard because he can match up better with opposing backup point guards, and wouldn’t be relied on as much for scoring. As long as he is the starting point guard for the Bucks, they will never move into the top of the Eastern Conference.
Previous Grade: C+
John Henson: C+
After Parker’s injury, Henson was removed from the starting lineup, and has failed to see the court in the last two games. Milwaukee has been waiting for the lengthy 6’11” center to show his worth for quite some time, but it seems like Henson has hit his peak, and his role will forever be a decent center who is a mediocre shot blocker with a good left handed hook shot. Thon Maker, on the other hand, has plenty of potential to show, and will hopefully remain in the starting lineup for the rest of the year so that he can gain some valuable experience for years to come. With the acquisition of Hawes and Hibbert, along with Monroe playing at a high level, the Bucks have five big men to turn to, so don’t expect Milwaukee to be relying on Henson any time soon.
Previous Grade: B-
Thon Maker: B-
Three weeks ago, Thon Maker made his first NBA start due to Jabari Parker’s half-game suspension. This turned heads, as he had never seen more than garbage time minutes prior to that. Now, with Parker being out for an extended period of time, Maker has been moved into the starting lineup, and has continued to attract attention with some of the plays he has made. Whether it be the three consecutive three pointers he hit against Utah, or the huge blocks he had in that same game against Rudy Gobert, Maker is showing everyone that he has potential to be a great player some day. He scored a career-high twelve points against Indiana in 22 minutes and has proven with his work ethic that he can compete at a high level. However, now that Maker is finally getting playing time, it is much easier to critique his play. Despite playing limited minutes, Maker gets into foul trouble easily, and struggles with some of the defensive schemes, especially when he is switched onto a quicker player. Also, he will need to put on weight in the off-season so he can actually compete on the glass, as he hasn’t grabbed more than six rebounds in a game yet, despite being 7’1″. The future is bright, but the future won’t be here for a few more years, so in the meantime, Maker will cherish every minute he gets on the court.
Previous Grade: C+
Greg Monroe: A-
The Moose has been one of the best reserve players in the league, not only with scoring, but rebounding and playing defense. Yes, defense. Monroe has done a great job making up for his lack of shot-blocking presence by doing a fantastic job of sacrificing his body by taking charges. He is also third in the league in steals for bench players, which is impressive for a big man. Monroe had a nine-game streak of double digit scoring in January, but then dropped off when the Bucks needed it most with three straight performances of less than ten points. It appears that Monroe has fully embraced his role off the bench, and if he can maintain his production, the Bucks should hopefully get back on track offensively.
Previous Grade: B+
Khris Middleton: N/A
It would be unfair to grade Middleton this soon after his return, as he is still paying limited minutes and hasn’t quite gotten back into the swing of things. Hopefully, after the All-Star Break, the Bucks can get Middleton back into a solid rotation so that he can bring his shooting abilities and defensive prowess to the table.
Jabari Parker: N/A
All Bucks fans can hope for is that Parker is able to recover from this ACL tear. After his last tear, Parker came back bigger and better than ever. But tearing the same ACL twice usually doesn’t bode well for the future (Derrick Rose is hardly an MVP candidate anymore after multiple ACL tears). Parker had a great season, and should still have a bright future with his great work ethic and experience with improving through rehab.
Previous Grade: A-
Tony Snell: B+
Despite just about every other Bucks player struggling during the month of January, Snell managed to shoot an astonishing 52 percent from the three point line. Snell has a limited role in the Bucks offense outside of patrolling the three point line, but his solid defensive play and consistent shooting will earn him bench minutes even when Middleton returns to the starting lineup.
Previous Grade: B
Mirza Teletovic: C+
Teletovic has had two 19-point performances so far in February, but was horrendous in January, shooting just 27.9 percent from deep. Now with Parker out he has seen extended minutes, but prior to that injury, he was at the bottom of the depth chart due to his poor shooting. On the bright side, Teletovic can’t shoot much worse than he did last month, but he has been anything but consistent this season.
Previous Grade: C
Jason Terry: B
Terry hasn’t scored more than nine points in a game all season, and yet he has been a leader on the team and one of the most important players. He connects on big three point shots and is constantly an on-court coach for players like Malcolm Brogdon. Don’t be surprised if Terry is the head coach of an NBA team in the near future.
Previous Grade: B
Rashad Vaughn: D-
Vaughn doesn’t get minutes in most games, but even when he does he fails to make an impact. For example, he played 25 minutes against Indiana a few days ago and managed just two points on five shots. It’s hard to say if Vaughn will be a part of this team’s future, but it’s safe to say when the D-League team in Oshkosh is ready to go, Vaughn will be there.
Previous Grade: D-