Bucks Lead

Bucks’ Award Winners at the Midway Point of the Season

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The Milwaukee Bucks just finished their 43rd game of the season and currently sit at the top of the NBA with a record of 36-6. Needless to say they’re having just as great of a season as last year, with aspirations for better results at the end of the season. Since we just hit the halfway point of the season I thought it would be a good time to take a snapshot of the season so far by looking at who would be the Bucks award winners for the NBA’s respective awards.

MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Statistics: 30.1 PPG/ 12.9 RPG/ 5.5 APG/ 1.2 SPG/ 1.1 BPG

No debate on this one. Let’s move on.

(Bucks) ROY: Wesley Matthews

Statistics: 7.1 PPG/ 2.5 RPG/ 1.4 APG/ 0.7 SPG/ 0.2 BPG

Since the Bucks don’t have a rookie on the roster this year, this award will be for the most impactful first-year Buck. Now Matthews’ stats don’t jump off the page, and that’s fine– because he’s not here to stuff the stat sheet. He’s here to hit threes and play defense– two things he has done both at an elite level this year. He’s shooting 35.3% from three, very slightly above the league average. And on the defensive end, he’s been tasked with matching up with the opposition’s best wing player on a nightly basis. We saw a great example of how good he is defensively when he matched up with LeBron James.

 

Sixth Man Award: George Hill

Statistics: 10.0 PPG/ 3.2 RPG/ 3.1 APG/ 0.7 SPG/ 0.1 BPG

This might be the biggest increase in talent from when I did this last year, which you can see here. Last year Tony Snell won, and we all know how much better Hill has been for the Bucks than Snell was. Hill, in short, has been simply fantastic this year. He provides great defense, a scoring punch off the bench, and is always making smart veteran plays. But if there is one thing that jumps off the page for Hill and that his team-leading and league-leading three-point percentage at a whopping 52.5%. We can see just how much of an impact Hill can have in his game against the Clippers earlier this year.

Most Improved: Donte DiVincenzo

Statistics: 8.9 PPG/ 4.5 RPG/ 2.3 APG/ 1.5 SPG/ 0.3 BPG

DiVincenzo could easily have won the sixth man award, and if we’re going off minutes played, Donte is actually the Bucks’ sixth man, but I decided to go with offense over defense for the previous award. That doesn’t take away from how much of a leap DiVincenzo has made this year, however.

DiVincenzo played a mere 27 games last year held back by lingering injuries and time in the G League. This year, he has already played in 38 games. He’s turned into a legit two-way rotational player for the Bucks. He leads the team in steals and is able to have the offense run through him when the starters rest. So far this year, he is also the person usually tasked with the spot-start role– stepping in for an injured starter. It seems Mike Budenholzer has a lot of trust in the young player and should play a huge part for them going forward.

Defensive Player of the Year: Brook Lopez

Statistics: 10.1 PPG/ 4.7 RPG/ 1.5 APG/ 0.8 SPG/ 2.5 BPG

The Bucks have so many players that could potentially win this award. They have two guys that were on the NBA’s All-Defense Team last year in Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo, have a ball hawk in DiVincenzo, and multiple other solid defenders like Hill and Matthews. But I’m going with someone whose impact is not seen too much on paper, but whose skillset shapes Milwaukee’s defense.

Brook Lopez does lead the team in blocks with 2.5 per game — good for third in the league — so he does have some stats that stand out in the box score, but he does a lot more that you don’t see if you don’t watch. In Milwaukee’s defense, the center generally stays around the paint with the other four players flying around the perimeter. This causes the opposing team to be funneled into either midrange shots — which aren’t efficient for a lot of players — or are forced into challenging Lopez at the rim. This template for their defense has led the Bucks to be one of the top defensive teams in the league during Lopez’s tenure with the Bucks. Below you’ll find a good video detailing this defense in action and the huge part Lopez plays in that.

All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference. Follow us on Twitter @BucksLead for the latest Bucks news and insight.

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