Pros and Cons of the Milwaukee Bucks big man lineup in Abu Dhabi game

(Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP) (Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP) (Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images) /
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo; Atlanta Hawks: Clint Capela
(Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP) (Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks opened up their preseason stint in Abu Dhabi with a new starting lineup we haven’t seen before. This is especially interesting considering that forward Khris Middleton could miss the start of the regular season, there is no clear starting five. The Bucks went with Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen in the backcourt, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, and Brook Lopez to round out the starting five. This lineup by technicality features Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 6’11 freight train, at small forward.

This is definitely one of the more interesting lineups head coach Mike Budenholzer has fielded for Milwaukee, however this may not be the best of them. Having that much size in your lineup comes with pros and cons, but the cons outweigh the pros in this situation.

Pros of the Milwaukee Bucks big man lineup

I will cut to the chase here. After watching this lineup and analyzing what it could bring, there are not many pros to it. Playing Giannis at the small forward opens up some more opportunity for him to handle the ball and do some playmaking, but it isn’t much of a difference at all compared to what we would see with Giannis playing power forward. Offensively, the players playing with Giannis are either running a pick and roll with him or waiting on the three point line with hands ready to shoot. Having an extra big man instead of say Pat Connaughton doesn’t move the needle for the potential of the offense. Bobby Portis made 39.3 percent of his 3-point looks last season, Pat Connaughton made 39.5 percent of his 3-pointers.

One pro is the fact that having the size and length of Lopez, Antetokounmpo, and Portis could really disrupt things for opposing teams trying to score in the paint. Another thing that would not be at too much of a loss at the offensive end would be spacing. Spacing is key to Milwaukee’s offense because of the way Giannis is able to draw defenders in on the drive, so being in the right spot is essential. All in all, the Milwaukee Bucks hopefully have some other ideas for Milwaukee’s starting five on opening night in Philadelphia. One such possibility is inserting Jordan Nwora who has made spot starts when others have been injured, Nwora started 13 games last season.

Cons of the Milwaukee Bucks big man lineup

For one, with the amount of switching the Bucks do Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez together could tank the bucks’ perimeter defense. Also, a lot of teams are migrating towards small ball and this lineup would create big matchup problems. This is most likely just an experimental lineup, and we will likely see some other weird combinations of players in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the preseason.

The biggest downfall of the triple big man lineup is the perimeter defense. It would be one thing if either Portis or Lopez had even the littlest bit of mobility defending the perimeter, and they absolutely do not, which is pretty evident. That is definitely okay though because that is not either one of those guys roles on defense and asking them to guard the perimeter would be borderline insane. There have been reports of a new defense emerging in Milwaukee, but teams would immediately see this Bucks lineup and pick it apart in multiple ways.

In the modern NBA having more switchable or versatile defenders on the floor is a huge advantage because of the importance of the three-point shot, this thought process is likely the driving force of the Milwaukee Bucks’ interest in Jae Crowder. It’s good to experiment and have ideas, but this lineup is not a best idea. In my mind replacing Lopez with a wing like Connaughton in this lineup could make all the difference.

You just cannot have Lopez and Portis out there together in my opinion, so I would ultimately shift Lopez to a bench role, which could really help him. The things Brook brings to the table could be very valuable in a bench role, and he appears to have lost a step since his surgery.  Whether Bobby or Brook would be the one to come off the bench, both would probably receive a pretty similar amount of minutes either way.

The Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen backcourt is the way to go, I do not see who else deserves to start over Allen, but I would like to see Connaughton in the lineup in exchange for Lopez until Khris Middleton is 100 percent and ready to return to his place in the starting lineup. Connaughton is not a great defender by any means, but that switch would give Milwaukee a lot more flexibility on both ends of the ball.

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The Milwaukee Bucks play one more game in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, stay tuned for analysis of their games in the United Arab Emirates.