Should the Milwaukee Bucks play big or small during key absences?

Dec 1, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Grayson Allen
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 15: (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks lineups with Middleton and Connaughton out: Making the case for small ball

It pretty much goes without saying that just about any small ball lineup the Milwaukee Bucks employ will have Giannis Antetokounmpo roaming the middle at the center position. It is possible that Mike Budenholzer could opt to use Bobby Portis in such a lineup and keep a similar amount of energy on the floor and some better spot up shooting.

However, what makes a Milwaukee Bucks small ball lineup small would be the Bucks using two point guards at the same time. Last season, despite George Hill missing a chunk of the season, spent 10.1 minutes per game on the floor with Jrue Holiday. It is interesting to note that while on the floor together, the pair had a +/- of 6.4, making it the second most productive pairing as far as +/- goes for pairs that played a significant amount of games together!

That is somewhat eye opening but when you consider that the Bucks didn’t add Jevon Carter until February and Holiday and Hill were the only two trusted point guards on the roster, even after the Carter addition, it seems bold to put both players on the floor together from an injury scare perspective.

Holiday and Carter spent just 6.1 minutes per game on the floor together in 17 games last season. During those 6.1 minutes the pair did have a +/- of 1.1, so while not blowing teams away, it was still a positively effective lineup pairing.

Expanding to three player lineup combinations and adding Grayson Allen to the mix at small forward to stay with the small ball lineup, a combination of Holiday, Carter and Allen was used sparsely, just 2.5 minutes per game in only three contests. There were however, 29 games in which a combination of Holiday, Hill and Allen were used, it is still a small sample size of just 5.6 minutes per game but the resulting +/- registered at 4.6 and a very comfortable 40.2 percent on 3-point shots. (The tiny three game sample size between Holiday, Carter and Allen resulted in 42.9 percent on 3-pointers between the three.)

Exploring a larger sample size of Jrue Holiday, Jevon Carter and Grayson Allen may certainly be a small ball lineup worth exploring. The Milwaukee Bucks would be able to keep strong defenders and good shooters on the floor with whoever they put at power forward and center.