Milwaukee Bucks: One goal for each bench player for this season

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 19: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 19: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have a playoff-caliber starting five, but there is less certainty regarding the bench. What can the Bucks’ bench players do to support the starters and become essential role players?

In my last article, I outlined benchmarks for each Milwaukee Bucks starter that would allow them to take their game to the next level.

This time around I will set those same kind of goals for the bench. Here, I will determine goals for the bench players that upon completion, would turn the supporting players into a cohesive, difference-making second unit.

More from Bucks News

There’s plenty of reason to believe that’s a realistic hope for the Bucks this season under the guidance of Mike Budenholzer and his staff, but what will those players need to do individually to make it happen?

SF – Tony Snell: Have a true shooting percentage of at least 57 percent

Tony Snell hit the ground running at the beginning of the 2017-18 season and was top-10 in the league in several shooting efficiency metrics after one month of play. One of these statistics was his league-leading 69.5 true shooting percentage, which is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes two-pointers, three-pointers, and free throws into account.

Snell slumped for the rest of the year and finished with a 53 percent true shooting percentage, which ranked outside the top-100. A true shooting percentage of 57 percent would be a tick above Snell’s career average of 54.8 percent and would turn Snell back into a solid Sixth Man-style contributor.

PG – Matthew Dellavedova: Be healthy for at least 75 games

Dellavedova suffered leg and knee injures, separately, and only played in 38 games last season. Even when he was on the court, Delly did not seem to be at his best, though. Staying in good health will be instrumental to a Delly comeback season where he breaks into the regular guard rotation and plays his classic, pesky brand of basketball.

C – Thon Maker: Average below four fouls per 36 minutes

Maker often gets into foul trouble when defending larger, stronger big men in the post. Over his career, Thon has averaged 4.9 fouls per 36 minutes. Cutting down on the fouls by playing smarter defense and having better positioning will allow him to stay in games longer and fully realize his potential as a steadfast rim protector

SG – Pat Connaughton: Shoot at least 40 percent from three

Pat Connaughton is known as a three-point shooting specialist, whose value is largely tied to his ability to convert from downtown. Oddly enough, Connaughton only shot 35.2 percent from three land, which was 1 percent below league average. To maximize his worth to the Bucks, Connaughton will have to shoot better from three.

Fortunately for Connaughton, he is now on a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo, who often commands attention from multiple players. This alone should increase his efficiency from three, as Connaughton should get more open looks than he did in Portland.

C – John Henson: Average 1.8 blocks per game

This season, Coach Budenholzer has done the the unthinkable and given John Henson the green light to shoot threes. While it’s nice to see Henson expanding his game, J-Hook has always been known for his defense.

Henson is splitting minutes at center with Brook Lopez, who is not known for his defense. Outside of Giannis and Thon, who hasn’t played in the first two games of the season, Henson is the Bucks main rim protector. Henson averages 1.5 blocks per game in his career in 20 minutes per game. Averaging 1.8 blocks per game, Henson would become the second rim protector the Bucks need and would maximize his value as a defensive stalwart.

SG – Sterling Brown: Average at least seven minutes per game

In his rookie season, Brown averaged a healthy 14.4 minutes per contest. Through the draft (Donte DiVincenzo) and free agency (Pat Connaughton), the Bucks had a significant influx of wing talent over the offseason, so it is unreasonable to expect Brown to equal his minutes mark from last season. Every second of playing time is integral to Brown’s development as a young, promising role player. If Brown can become one of the first Bucks off the bench and average at least seven minutes per game, he will grow as a player and exhibit his valuable 3-and-D capabilities.

SG – Donte DiVincenzo – Shoot at least 44 percent from the field

Donte DiVincenzo is a scrappy player who plays high-energy minutes whenever he steps on a basketball court. What will take him to the next level, though, is efficient shooting from the field. DiVincenzo was cold during the preseason, shooting 29.5 percent from the field. Shooting 44 percent is a realistic goal for Donte and is close to league average for shooting guards.

PF – Christian Wood – Average over two offensive rebounds per 36 minutes

The Bucks have been lacking a forceful presence on the offensive boards since the departure of Larry Sanders; Christian Wood has a chance to be just that for Milwaukee. During his three-year career as a G Leaguer, Wood has averaged 3.1 offensive rebounds per 36. Doing similarly in the NBA would greatly increase both his value to the Bucks and their second chance points per game, a stat in which they ranked third-last in the league during the 2017-18 season.

PF – Ersan Ilyasova – Average at least five minutes per game as a small ball center

Ersan Ilyasova is a swiss army knife of a player, who can function in several roles on offense. One of these roles is a small-ball center, a role Ilyasova found himself in often last season with the 76ers. His use as a center proved successful, especially when paired with Ben Simmons; when Ilyasova was at center with Simmons on the court, the 76ers boasted a 12.5 net rating. As Jordan Treske analyzed, the Bucks should take advantage of Ersan’s versatility, with Giannis being the Ben Simmons equivalent.

PF – D.J. Wilson – Have a positive net rating playing with the Wisconsin Herd

The former Michigan Wolverine’s short NBA career may very well be on life support. After a rookie season of scarce, unimpressive performances, there were rumors swirling this offseason that his spot on the team was not secure. Wilson did make it onto the regular roster, but will most likely be playing the bulk of his minutes this season with the Bucks’ G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd.

Last season, Wilson accrued an abysmal -24.9 net rating in 11 appearances with the Herd. A positive net rating would show some improvement and give the Bucks a glimmer of hope that Wilson can improve.

dark. Next. Milwaukee Bucks: What Giannis Antetokounmpo must do to win MVP

If the bench players can achieve each statistical goal, the Milwaukee Bucks will have themselves a bench full of solid role players and spark plugs, capable of playing at a high level when called upon. With a solid starting five and dependable bench, the Milwaukee Bucks will be a force to be reckoned with this season.