Johnny O’Bryant Has Been Quietly Reliable for the Milwaukee Bucks


Johnny O’Bryant may not be a great talent, but he’s doing everything right for the Milwaukee Bucks right now.

Johnny O’Bryant is not impressing anybody with his basic statistics right now. He’s shooting just under 41 percent from the field and managing just 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Not much to write home about.

He often gets teased on Bucks Twitter for being mediocre, and those numbers kind of explain why. But there’s more to the story than just those basic numbers.

The thing about O’Bryant is that he always, always, always puts the team first. JOB is dead last among Bucks with at least 100 minutes in field goal attempts per 36 minutes, and he only takes 3.5 shots per game.

Of the shots he does take, almost all of them are advisable ones. O’Bryant has taken 46 shots from farther than ten feet away from the basket this season. Of those 46, just four came with a defender within four feet of him.

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The other 41 of his mid-range jumpers (and his one three-pointer) came while JOB was wide open. Unless he’s just snagged an offensive rebound, O’Bryant typically will not take a shot if there’s a defender near him. He knows he’s not the best option to score when he’s on the floor, so he passes.

He doesn’t pass exceptionally often (just under 20 times per game), because he doesn’t see the ball that much (JOB ranks, you guessed it, dead last in usage percentage on the team), but when he does dish he often puts his teammates in good positions.

There are only four Bucks whose passes lead to higher field goal percentages than O’Bryant. If a teammate takes a shot after being set up by JOB, they shoot 45.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.

O’Bryant has also taken very good care of the basketball this season. Only Jabari Parker turns the ball over less than O’Bryant does per 36 minutes this season, as JOB has just 14 turnovers in his 25 played games this season.

Thanks to his smart shot selection, passing ability and ball control, Johnny O’Bryant is actually leading the Milwaukee Bucks in offensive rating, at 105.6. Having O’Bryant on the floor makes the Bucks a better basketball team, because although he’s not a great player, he makes great decisions.

With JOB on the court, the Bucks have their best true shooting percentage and offensive rating, and their second-best net rating and rebounding percentage. The team’s defensive rating does get slightly better with O’Bryant off of the floor, but not many rotation players in Milwaukee have done great on that end this season.

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He may never be a starter on the Bucks–Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo seem to have the forward spots locked up for a while, one would think–but O’Bryant is an ideal role player on this team. Just because he doesn’t have an overpowering game or look the best out there does not mean he’s not doing the best for this team.

He’s also on one of the cheapest deals in the entire NBA. He’s making $845,059 this season, and Milwaukee will almost certainly look to use it’s team option on JOB next season, locking him in for $980,431.

After that it will be time to sign him as a restricted free agent, and there’s no obvious reason why the Bucks wouldn’t look to lock O’Bryant up on a long-term, low salary contract deal.

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While guys like Giannis, Jabari, and maybe even Michael Carter-Williams will be looking for the big bucks from the Bucks, it’s nice to know Milwaukee can get themselves a reliable role player in JOB to fill out the rotation without breaking the bank.

Shockingly, considering his first year in Milwaukee, Johnny O’Bryant has turned himself into a smart, effective bench player for the Milwaukee Bucks. That’s a pretty good return for any second-round pick.

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At this point, there’s no reason not to count O’Bryant as a part of the Young Bucks core.