3 looming questions regarding the Milwaukee Bucks’ bench brigade

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 01 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 01 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Grayson Allen
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 19 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

With just four games left to play in the NBA regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks are gearing up to defend their title. Though the postseason is right around the corner, the defending champs are still dealing with a handful of question marks, several of which stem from the bench. Milwaukee’s second unit has been among their most notable flaws this season, with their players struggling to produce consistently. Some of that can be attributed to injuries, illnesses, and other reasons, but with the team nearly at full strength and the Bucks attempting to finish the regular season on a high note, here are three questions looming over the team’s second unit.

Can Grayson Allen be as impactful off the bench if Wesley Matthews will indeed continue to be the Milwaukee Bucks’ starting two-guard?

After starting at shooting guard for virtually the entire season, Grayson Allen has come off the Milwaukee Bucks’ bench in three of the team’s last four games. The lone game that he did not came this past Friday, where he did not log a single minute in what was an unofficial rest game.

Wesley Matthews has filled Allen’s role as the starting shooting guard, largely due to his defense and the high-profile scorers featured in these last few matchups. Though nothing is set in stone, it appears that the Bucks may keep this lineup change permanent heading into the postseason. If so, it begs the question of whether Allen can keep the ball rolling as well as he has as a starter.

Transitioning from a full-time starting role to a member of the bench with less than 10 games to play is certainly quite the change, and it has been noticeable early on. In 61 games as a starter in Milwaukee’s lineup, Allen averaged 11.3 points while shooting 44.6 percent from the floor and an efficient 41.3 percent from 3-point range. During these three appearances off the bench, Allen has averaged 7.7 points while knocking down 53.3 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three.

Though Allen’s efficiency has improved as a member of the second unit, his production has dipped because his shot attempts, especially from 3-point territory, have nosedived. The guard averaged a new career-high six 3-point attempts per game as a starter and has only taken 3.7 on average in these past three games. Playing time is not exactly the cause for this dip in shot attempts, as he is averaging just two minutes less off the bench than he did as a starter.

The biggest reason for Allen’s decrease in scoring production and 3-point attempts is a decline in minutes alongside Milwaukee’s other stars. The guard has put up the best numbers in his career this season largely due to how well he has played with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and the other starters because they have helped generate countless open looks. At this time, Allen has shot the sixth-most “wide open” 3-pointers in the NBA this season with 264, per NBA.com/stats. Seeing less time with the starters, Allen will not get those looks as often, which is a huge change.

Through three games, Allen has looked good off the bench from an efficiency standpoint, hitting his shots more frequently than he did as a starter. However, it comes on far fewer attempts, and the guard’s scoring numbers are down. It will be interesting to see how the Bucks continue to use Allen moving forward if he does indeed remain in the second unit because he has the potential to be a difference-maker for this team due to his electric 3-point shooting.