Milwaukee Bucks: Will the bench make a jump in scoring?

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 26: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 26: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Having been one of the NBA’s worst bench scoring teams last season, are the Milwaukee Bucks set up to be any better in 2018-19?

With the majority of offseason moves very likely behind us, the time has come to take stock of how exactly the Milwaukee Bucks stand heading into the new season, and what’s changed over the course of the summer.

One of the Bucks’ more glaring weaknesses as the season progressed and crossed over into the playoffs was a lack of quality depth, how that left the team with a lack of contingency plans, and also placed undue stress on star players, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

In spite of having limited options due to a challenging cap sheet, it looks as if Milwaukee has managed to go some distance toward rectifying that problem over the last couple of months.

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The departure of Jabari Parker may well have been the biggest roster storyline surrounding the Bucks this summer, but with minimal outgoings of consequence overall, the additions of Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova, Pat Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo will likely prove to be the most significant in terms of the overall shape of the roster.

There’s a strong case to be made for the Bucks being a more talented team overall heading into the new season, even with Parker now playing in Chicago, but at the very least it can’t be disputed that the results of the team’s offseason has left Milwaukee with a more even distribution of talent across the roster.

With a new coaching staff in place, much about the Bucks’ rotation and play style still remains uncertain, but it’s clear the tools are there for Budenholzer and Co. to work with.

A combination of Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Lopez, Ilyasova, Connaughton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Tony Snell, Sterling Brown, John Henson, Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova should make for a more than solid 10-to-12 man rotation at the very least, something which the Bucks haven’t been able to boast for a number of years.

That should certainly lead to more consistent play from the Bucks, and a much less significant drop-off in performance when the starters take a seat. Just how much Budenholzer chooses to stagger his lineups will obviously play a deciding factor in the influence of bench players, the opportunities afforded to them, and how much is asked of them, but it’s clear the group heading into 2018-19 should be more than good enough to improve on the abysmal efforts of last year.

The Bucks ranked 27th in bench points per game last season with an average of 27.7 per game, and equally important was the fact Milwaukee was also 27th in terms of bench minutes at the mark of 16.8 per game.

At a minimum, the reinforcements added this summer should allow Budenholzer to reduce the crippling minutes loads on star players. In turn, that will naturally lead to the bench rising up the rankings in both minutes and points.

Just how significantly the points jump is the key question, though, and it’s one that’s difficult to provide a definitive answer for without the luxury of having seen a Budenholzer coached Bucks team before.

Bledsoe, Middleton and Antetokounmpo are locks to start, but who will join them and who will be left to make up the bench? Brogdon, Snell and Brown will have cases for the spot in the backcourt, while Lopez, Henson and Maker could all stake a claim to start at center.

The other question that follows that line of thinking is just how much Budenholzer will opt to stagger his rotations. Frequent staggering would likely lead to the best results for the team, but may also limit what would technically deemed as bench scoring.

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The newfound wealth of options available to the Bucks should still guarantee increased bench scoring. In time, we’ll find out if that translates to a jump toward the league’s very best in that department, but even a moderate improvement toward the middle of the pack should act as a major boost for Milwaukee overall.