Bucks Lead

Individual Grades For Milwaukee’s 1st 4 Games

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Attention, a new season has begun, and class is now in session. Today we will be looking at the Bucks Report Card and how they have performed on the court so far this year. Now, this may seem early, but good marks on these evaluations could very well lead to a high grade come to the end of the term. For others, grades that are not so high will not necessarily lead to failure.

It will not just be the eye test that is important, but also effort and production I will consider. This review will certainly not be the year’s only evaluation; consider this a baseline assessment.

The Starters

Eric Bledsoe: C-

Stats: 10.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.8 Turnovers (26.0 MPG)

Starting with perhaps the most polarizing of Bucks (the other will be soon), is Eric Bledsoe. Since his acquisition from Phoenix two seasons ago, he’s been a solid contributor. However, after averaging 17.8 points per game in 2017-18 and 15.9 last year, his scoring has taken another dip. Through four games, Bledsoe is averaging just 10.5 points per contest. While it’s a small sample size, some numbers are quite alarming. Last playoffs, he averaged only 23.6 percent from behind the arc on nearly five attempts a night. This trend has continued into this year, with him averaging fewer than one three on 3.5 attempts for a 21.4% conversion rate. Once Bledsoe can once again find his identity as an athletic, drive-first guard instead of a three-point man, this grade could quickly improve.

Wesley Matthews: B

Stats: 11.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG (29.8 MPG)

Perhaps the most prominent Bucks addition, Matthews settled into his role almost entirely. Signed as a perimeter first player on both offense and defense, he is hitting 32.1% of his threes and averaging a steal per night. One of many players who take advantage of the attention Giannis attracts, Matthews’ catch-and-shoot nature fits in well in Milwaukee.

Khris Middleton: B+

Stats: 20.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.8 SPG (33.3 MPG)

Speaking of polarizing figures, time to talk about Khris Middleton. The team leader in both minutes per game and three-pointers attempted per game (7.8), the Bucks have tasked him with a larger role. The main criticism with Middleton is his production does not match his large contract. While there is some truth to this critique, as he received star money, there are two facts to consider:

  1. There were few if any, options the Bucks had to replace him adequately
  2. Keeping continuity on a team haunted by a superstar’s future is critical

In this vein, bringing Middleton back was not much of a question. While his shooting could improve (49.2%), the volume can easily explain this. While he is shooting the second-fewest two pointers of his career, his three-point attempts blow away his previous career-high of 6.2 from last year. He has shown the ability to get red hot and has also been positive on the box score every game. (Including a +17 on Monday.) Like him or not, Khris Middleton is here to stay, and his presence has shown to be crucial.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: A

Stats: 23.8 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 8.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.8 BPG (32.3 MPG)

This Giannis kid is pretty good, eh?

Giannis put the Bucks on his back this season (when he sees the floor at least). Despite fouling out of two of their three games, Giannis has dominated. He is the first player ever to total 50p/30r/20a in a team’s first two games. He is putting up his numbers in just over 30 minutes a night and has excelled in nearly all aspects of the game.

There’s a reason I said nearly, and that’s why I cannot give him an A+. This mark is because, let’s face it, Giannis can’t hit a lick from the line this year.

Now, he has never been a fantastic charity stripe shooter, with a career average of 74%. However, shooting just 55.3 percent from the line makes him easier to defend. If he has a mismatch inside, opponents will hack him more often. If he goes for a drive and kick, teams may be more willing to risk a foul and send him to the line rather than allow three. These struggles by Giannis have the potential to hurt this team during the year and even alter some game’s outcomes.

The Greek Freak has played a stupendous first four games so far, but if he doesn’t fix this Achilles Heel, it will be interesting to see how other teams play him.

Brook Lopez: B

Stats: 12.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 2.5 BPG (29.0 MPG)

Last year, Bucks Nation fell in love with Brook Lopez. From his celebration to his goofy personality, he was a definite fan favorite. The best part, though, was his production, which he’s built on so far. PPG, APG, SPG, and BPG are all up. His PER is where the highest in three years. He’s been a tremendous defensive presence, as has helped de-clog the lane on offense.

Something doesn’t seem right watching him, though.

See, when the Bucks get a decent lead, they tend to get into a “Let it Fly” habit. Now, I know that’s their motto, but in efforts to go for the jugular, they can occasionally lose their heads a bit. Lopez is a prime example. He can take threes from multiple feet behind the arc on catch and shoot situations, often just seconds into the shot clock. Now, when BroLo is on fire, as the star was against Denver last year, Splash Mountain is a joy to watch. However, when you see him pull up for some ill-advised looking threes on two out of four possessions, he can leave you puzzled.

Brook, settle down and find your rhythm like we all know you can, and you will be just fine. Otherwise, indeed, keep doing what you’re doing.

The Bench

George Hill: A- (11.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.3 SPG in 24.8 MPG)

Ersan Ilyasova: B+ (8.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 45.5% 3P in 18.8 MPG)

Pat Connaughton: B (8.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.0 APG in 18.0 MPG)

Kyle Korver: A- (9.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 50.0% 3P in 16.8 MPG)

Robin Lopez: D+ (3.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.5 BPG in 15.0 MPG)

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