Ten times out of 10, Mike Dunleavy would not have made expert lists of guard/forward free agent targets for the Milwaukee Bucks, but predictions be damned, the former third overall NBA draft pick will be suiting up in green and red this season. This is not a sexy move that chums up the water of the impending NBA free agent feeding frenzy, but Dunleavy does provide an immediate upgrade to some key roles that were sorely missing last season.
Dunleavy will cost the Bucks $7.5 million over the next two years, and in the context of the early market cost for a small forward (Caron Butler is $24 million richer as we speak), that’s a relative bargain. Plus, John Hollinger seems to like it, reasoning that it gives the team some financial flexibility (one of John Hammond‘s best attributes) and fills a major hole in the Bucks rotation. Mike Dunleavy is coming off a season of relatively good health where he posted the second best three point shooting percentage of his career (40.2%).
As Jeremy Schmidt at Bucksketball has noted, Carlos Delfino is the most consistent long range bomber on the Bucks, and anyone who has watched Delfino knows that’s a fairly big stretch of a compliment. Hence, Dunleavy infuses some reliability along the perimeter to compensate for the team’s overall streaky shooting.
Had Dunleavy played for the Bucks a season ago, his true shooting percentage (59.3%) would’ve ranked tops on the team, and his turnover rate (10.7) would have ranked only above Carlos Delfino (9.09) and Ersan Ilyasova (10.23) among Bucks that averaged 25 minutes or more per game (Dunleavy’s average was 27 mpg).
Along with being a smart, slightly better version of Kyle Korver, Dunleavy fits well into Milwaukee’s offensive style, which often relies heavily on perimeter screens and catch-and-shot plays. According to Synergy Sports, Dunleavy’s most effective scoring came from spot up opportunities (40.4% 3fg, 43.6% fg, 1.2 points per possession) and off of screens (40.7% 3fg, 44.1% fg, 1.17 PPP).
Interestingly enough, Dunleavy was solid in transition last season (38.9% 3fg, 39.8% fg, .98 PPP), which is an area where the Bucks have had some obvious problems over the past couple of years. Most of his production in these situations came from beyond the arc (55% of his transition shot attempts), but anything that spaces the floor and gives Brandon Jennings, Beno Udrih, or whoever else is handling the ball more options is good for Milwaukee.
The biggest downside to acquiring Dunleavy is his lack of natural defensive abilities, but if he fits into the offensive system as expected there’s no reason to believe Scott Skiles can’t work his magic to make him useful on both ends of the court.