3 players the Milwaukee Bucks need more from down the stretch

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 21 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 21 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Serge Ibaka, Brooklyn Nets: Bruce Brown, Andre Drummond
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – FEBRUARY 26 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Every team that hopes to compete for a title needs its key guys to be hitting on all cylinders, or at least close to all cylinders. The Milwaukee Bucks got the most out of a lot of their key guys on their run to the championship but so far this season, we haven’t been able to say the same.

Of course, they’re a legitimate title contender, and despite the inconsistency are still within striking distance of a top-three seed in the East. But hey, it’s never a bad idea to take a look at some key guys who the Bucks could stand to get more from down the stretch so they can secure that top-three seed and get their confidence up as we head into the playoffs.

#1 – The Milwaukee Bucks need more from Serge Ibaka

I want to be clear, just because I’m saying they need more from a player doesn’t mean I think they’ve been bad. Serge Ibaka, for example, hasn’t been bad whatsoever since coming over at the trade deadline.

He’s been fine, but the Bucks still could use more from him, especially while Brook Lopez is out and/or working his way back into game shape when he does return.

Ibaka’s defense has been solid enough. Milwaukee allows 4.2 points per 100 possessions fewer when he’s on the floor, one of the higher marks in the league per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required). It’s at the offensive end where we’ve seen him struggle, which we sort of saw coming.

More specifically, his 3-point shooting.

Through five games with the Bucks, Ibaka is shooting 27 percent from deep (3-of-11) and that is a pretty small sample, but it’s also how hesitant he looks at times to let it fly when he has an open look. Perhaps that will come if he starts to connect on a few more and gets his confidence going.

The Bucks are nearly 10 points per 100 possessions worse on offense with Ibaka on the floor. He is finishing well around the basket (around 70 percent) and has looked fine on midrange jumpers too, so maybe it’s just about finding a rhythm around Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Lineups with those two are minus-15 per 100 possessions, but lineups with Ibaka and Bobby Portis while Antetokounmpo is off are plus-8.6. I’m almost happier that he’s meshed alongside Portis more since those lineups desperately needed rim protection, but it would be better if he could be good with both!