The Milwaukee Bucks ran a system based on shooting, but without any elite shooters.
This might read like a continuation of the last few points, but the dissonance deserves its own subhead.
The aforecited teams all had different offensive identities, but they all also had one thing in common: they knew what they wanted to do on offense, and they had the personnel to execute their game plan.
In the regular season, the Bucks were fourth in 3-point attempts per game after they hoisted over 40 treys a night. But they were only tenth in percentage after converting on just 36.8 percent of those attempts.
Their shooting dashboard on NBA.com/stats backs this up. The Bucks were fifth in the league in terms of frequency of shots that were classified as “open.” But of their shots that were taken with the closest defender being anywhere from four to six feet away, they only made 34.3 percent of them — which is good for 18th in the league.
The truth has been staring us in the face for a while now.
Good shooters make wide-open shots, but great shooters make contested ones. Milwaukee’s roster is chock full of good shooters — but no great ones. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s all-world inward gravity won’t always generate wide-open shots, especially in the playoffs, where defenders close out to the perimeter with more determination.
By now, fans are used to the Bucks’ scorching hot shooting suddenly running dry in the playoffs. There’s a reason for that.
If the blueprint was to surround Giannis Antetokounmpo with shooters, the truth is that he’s been surrounded by guys who just happen to be able to make threes. But throughout Giannis’ tenure, there’s an argument to be made that perhaps the only elite or pure shooter he’s been able to play next to is Bryn Forbes. And whether the failure is on Jon Horst or Mike Budenholzer, the truth is this contradiction may have cost the Bucks some championships.
The Bucks need to find a way to add some elite shooters to their team if they want to be a championship contender. That’s on top of developing their current shooters and decisively running plays for them on offense. If they can do that, they will be a very difficult team to beat.
Perhaps there is much more riding on the development of A.J. Green than the Bucks faithful had initially realized.