Milwaukee Bucks: Bench unit continues to falter in big games

Jan 9, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA: Nick Monroe/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA: Nick Monroe/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports /

As we hit the one-month mark on their 2020-21 season, the Milwaukee Bucks have shown themselves to be a new and improved team.

Some of the changes are obviously, some are more subtle. Through it all, the Bucks’ many personnel changes from the offseason have made a huge imprint on the team’s play so far to the point where the Bucks stand at 9-5 on the year following their thrilling 125-123 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

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It’s in the Bucks’ bench unit where most of the faces look very different compared to last year’s squad. And as that loss to Brooklyn showed Monday night, the Bucks’ bench hasn’t been of much help during the few big games the Bucks have played in this season.

It’s certainly easy to look at the raw scoring production that the Bucks’ bench has put together at 36.4 points per game or the high-level shooting that they’ve collectively contributed, which now stands at 43 percent.

Newcomers such as Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes have both found their rhythm early on since coming to Milwaukee while veteran reserve guard D.J. Augustin has gotten off to an absolutely brutal start to the season. Pat Connaughton has never shot the ball from 3-point range and Thanasis Antetokounmpo has been a mild surprise as the Bucks’ energy booster.

It has combined to give a different twist than what we had come to expect last season. And it’s helped the Bucks still hold the best offense in by efficiency standards, per

The Milwaukee Bucks’ second unit has struggled to score effectively and efficiently against winning teams.

But the problem is the Bucks’ firepower and production from their depth hasn’t held up in the handful of games they’ve had against winning teams, with the Nets’ game providing a perfect example. It was Connaughton and his three triples that propped up a porous night from the bench that went on to score a combined 19 points for the night.

It’s unfortunately hit a consistent theme throughout the Bucks’ five losses this season. Milwaukee’s second unit has averaged 23.8 points per game in those games, the second-worst mark in all of the league.

This has certainly followed the Bucks from the opening game of the season where the Bucks’ bench contributed 12 of the team’s 121 total points in that heartbreaking 1-point loss to the Boston Celtics. Same goes for their 13-point loss to the Jazz earlier this month.

Milwaukee’s depth disadvantages has reinforced the concerns that the many observers had with their offseason, especially after how everything went down with their failed bid for Bogdan Bogdanovic. Although it’s been reinforced, it still hasn’t made it any easier to swallow to see the Bucks’ depth struggle to support the Bucks’ starting unit, especially in bigger clashes.

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With another incredibly tough matchup Thursday night when the Bucks host the reigning NBA champs, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bucks’ bench unit will have their opportunity for redemption and to turn around their struggles in high-profile matchups.