Milwaukee Bucks: Examining The Bench Production


Is the drop off in Milwaukee Bucks’ bench production a leading factor in the team’s overall decline from the play of last year?

Some of the key elements that were instrumental last season for the Milwaukee Bucks are now slowly carrying over into this season.

Yes, it may have taken a controversial lineup change to remedy some of the team’s early season problems, but the team’s defense has started to resemble the stout defense the Bucks were known for last year.

However, one key element that some Bucks fans (including myself) expected to carry over from last season into this season has arguably been the team’s biggest liability a month and a half into the season: the bench.

Now admittedly, it’s a little unfair to compare last year’s bench to this year’s because while the defense was largely viewed as having the biggest impact on the team’s success last year, the bench production was a close second.

Per, last year’s Bucks’ bench put up 42.3 points per game throughout the first half of last year, which made up 43 percent of the team’s overall points per game. Not only that, but the bench was also incredibly efficient as well, hitting 47 percent of their shots from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc, both good for second in the league.

The story for this year’s bench production hasn’t been as successful, to say the least.

As of now, this year’s bench currently ranks twenty-fifth in the league, in terms of points per game (29.7), which makes up about 31 percent of the team’s overall points per game (95.5).  To make matters worse, the bench hasn’t been nearly as efficient as last year’s bench either as they have been shooting 42 percent from the field and a shaky 32 percent from beyond the arc.

Yes, injuries to key bench contributors this year have already taken their toll and have influenced the bench’s output since the beginning of the season, but what’s stood out the most so far this season, especially in recent games, is the size of the bench rotation compared to last year’s.

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This year’ Bucks bench has collectively logged 17.2 minutes per game, good for twenty-fourth in the league where as last year’s bench logged 21.3 minutes per game and was the most used bench in the league up until the All-Star break.

Players like Chris Copeland, Miles Plumlee, Tyler Ennis and now since he rejoined the team after his D-league stint, Damien Inglis, have been regular DNP-CD’s over the last week or so, up until last night’s loss against the Lakers.

And of the regular contributors off the bench, players like John Henson, Johnny O’Bryant and Rashad Vaughn, it’s tough to argue that anyone else out of those three besides Henson has provided reliable offense night in and night out so far.

Of course, it’s hard to examine the dip in the bench’s production without bringing up some of the moves made this past off-season.

There’s definitely a distinct difference in how the team’s roster was constructed each year and some of the moves made this past off-season were obviously made to shed some salary to pursue a big free agent like Greg Monroe this past Summer.

However, it’s looking like either the front office might have underestimated the production provided by veterans like Jared Dudley, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova or thought the veterans they brought into this year’s squad could provide the same numbers as last year’s veterans.

We’ll never know the distinct reasoning besides the financial impact of the moves made, but it’s clear that this year’s bench unit hasn’t nearly provided the same boost for this team compared to last year’s unit.

Where it goes from here remains to be seen, but while he was off to a slow start, losing Greivis Vasquez forwhat could be the rest of the season doesn’t exactly help the bench woes from this point on.

There’s also rumors that the Bucks are shopping Miles Plumlee around and whether that comes to fruition or not, that could have an impact on what the bench looks like down the line.

The struggles the team have had so far this year have only increased the finger pointing by all Bucks fans and whether or not those struggles continue or subside, it’s clear the bench is high on the list of the team’s bigger problems.