Feb 4, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Tobias Harris (left) and forward Jon Leuer (right) box out Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng (center) during the second half at the Bradley Center. The Bulls won 113-90. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Milwaukee Bucks Midseason Grades: Bench Edition

(Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE)

Jake tackled the starters yesterday.  Now I’m teaching the second-semester course and the pressure from students is ON as they expect the grade inflation to continue.

In reality, most of the Bucks’ bench was going to fetch decent grades anyway, because on more occasions than not, they have outscored their opponents when on the floor.  The Bucks biggest problems spots have been the start of the 3rd and the end of the 4th quarters; in other words, instances when the starters are on the floor in the second half.

Larry Sanders – C

Like most of the Bucks’ bench, Sanders has only been effective on one end of the floor.  Unlike most of his benchmates, Sanders’ strong side is defense.  Sanders is an aware defender who can block/alter shots while doing a passable job at rebounding the ball.  He can even summon a reasonable attempt at defending Dwight Howard.

Do we have to talk about his offense, though?  Mama would be disappointed, because there is nothing nice to say.  Sanders uniquely combines the skill of missing shots from close range (44% FG at the rim, 33% from 3-9 feet) with the ability to lose the ball before he gets there (hands of stone, bad passing, 18.3% turnover rate).

Jon Leuer – B+

Is it unfair to judge Leuer on a softer scale than Brandon Jennings when they are both 22-year-old kids?

Even if we up the ante and observe Leuer with a critical eye, the shortcomings are few.  He isn’t the world’s greatest defender yet.  When he started at center — out-of-position, of course — he picked up early and frequent fouls which thinned Scott Skiles’ bench.  That’s it.  The list of Jon’s flaws is short.

On the plus side, Leuer hits open 18-footers, moves well without the ball, and commits ridiculously few turnovers.  Perhaps most pleasing, he can pull-up off the dribble to create his own shot.  Give him an offseason to work on his defense and an NBA-range three-point shot, and Jon Leuer could work his way up to summa cum laude status in short time.

Tobias Harris – A

Ok, so this is a crazy projection of a small sample of data, but here are the top-10 19-year-olds in NBA history by win shares per 48 minutes (min: 200 mins.):

Totals Shooting
Rk Player Season Age Tm Lg G MP FG TRB AST STL BLK PF PTS FG% FT% WS/48
1 Kyrie Irving 2011-12 19 CLE NBA 29 896 197 101 147 24 16 67 532 .479 .863 .150
2 Kobe Bryant 1997-98 19 LAL NBA 79 2056 391 242 199 74 40 180 1220 .428 .794 .147
3 Tobias Harris 2011-12 19 MIL NBA 20 233 43 47 9 7 6 25 122 .478 .805 .147
4 Tracy McGrady 1998-99 19 TOR NBA 49 1106 168 278 113 52 66 94 458 .436 .726 .143
5 Thaddeus Young 2007-08 19 PHI NBA 74 1554 264 312 58 73 8 126 610 .539 .738 .140
6 Andris Biedrins 2005-06 19 GSW NBA 68 1000 118 283 24 23 47 190 258 .638 .306 .137
7 Dwight Howard 2004-05 19 ORL NBA 82 2670 352 823 75 77 136 232 981 .520 .671 .131
8 Chris Bosh 2003-04 19 TOR NBA 75 2510 327 557 78 59 106 215 861 .459 .701 .119
9 Andrew Bynum 2006-07 19 LAL NBA 82 1793 247 484 94 12 128 249 637 .558 .668 .112
10 Kosta Koufos 2008-09 19 UTA NBA 48 565 94 138 20 12 31 70 224 .508 .706 .112
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/29/2012.

Me: “The Bucks are 14-20, so uh, we’d like to see more of this sort of thing, Mr. Skiles.”

Beno Udrih – C-

A career 35% shooter from three-point range, Beno is shooting 18% from long distance with the Bucks.  When he takes a shot from deep, I no longer look to see whether it goes in or not.  Instead, I start checking around the painted area to see which Bucks might be able to snag an offensive rebound.

Udrih has gone on the record to state that he doesn’t relish his role as a backup and that he can’t get comfortable in limited minutes.  For better or worse, Beno is generating both assists and turnovers at career-high rates.  He’s been a reliable shooter from 16-23 feet (47%), but he is a below-average defender.  When Udrih leads the bench unit, the offense hums and the ball-movement is above-average.  Unfortunately, the same (and then some) is usually true for the opposition.

Jon Brockman – D

Dear Jon,

Please no more trick-shot videos.  Here’s a trick: make more than 56% of your free throws.  Or another: hit one out of every four shot attempts you take.  Yes, it is true that you defend, bang, and rebound to the best of your ability against much taller opponents, but, yeah, it’s getting embarrassing.  Thanks,


That’s How It’s Done

Mike Dunleavy – B+

If there was ever an antidote to what plagued the Bucks in 2010-11, it is Dunleavy.  The Bucks finished last in nearly every meaningful offensive statistic last year.  Then along came Mike.  Dunleavy counteracts all the offensive bad habits with excellent shooting and willing, crisp passing.  Even though much of the offense runs through him, he rarely makes the mistakes that translate into turnovers.   The Bucks’ bench has produced regular points all season long, primarily due to Mike.

Ersan Ilyasova –  A-

The Good:  Best defender on the Bucks this year, and the competition isn’t really close.  If he turns in a 29/25 line every game, then the Bucks will have a fair shot at making the playoffs.

The Bad:  He is a free agent at the end of this season.

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Tags: Beno Udrih Ersan Ilyasova Jon Brockman Jon Leuer Larry Sanders Mike Dunleavy Tobias Harris

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