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Milwaukee’s love affair with the jumper killing their offense

Mar 16, 2011, 8:15 PM EDT

Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Hornets Getty Images

Milwaukee’s offense is just awful. Dead last in the league in points scored per possession (98.2 points per 100 possessions according to Hoopdata) but beyond the numbers it just comes off a team floating through the game. Bango seems the only Buck attacking the rim some nights.

Which is odd for a team with Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut and John Salmons, not to mention traditional scoring/foul-drawing machines like Corey Maggette. There have been injuries and other issues throughout the season, but things shouldn’t be this bad.

What is going on in the land of milk and cheese?

Sebastian Pruiti at NBA Playbook (a site you should be reading every day, it’s fantastic) broke down the film, looked at the numbers and came to some interesting conclusions.

In terms of the play calling, Milwaukee run plays that end up in possessions described as spot-ups 23.3 percent of the time, second in the NBA according to Synergy Sports Technology. This would be understandable if the Bucks were knocking down these shots, but they aren’t, as they only shoot 38.4 percent on spot-ups, 22nd in the league. It’s not good enough to justify taking that many spot-up jumpers.

The top two ball handlers in the pick-and-roll offense for Milwaukee are Brandon (29.6 percent of total pick-and-roll/ballhandler possessions) and John Salmons (20.1 percent). Jennings is actually an average player in the pick-and-roll, with 0.91 points per possession and he’s shooting 41.8 percent when coming off of ball screens. Salmons on the other hand, is a below average player when coming off of ball screens, and this is due to his tendency to settle for jumpers instead of attacking basket and getting to the rim.

In the NBA, there are jump shooting teams that have success (the one that really sticks out in my mind are the San Antonio Spurs, who when running the pick-and-roll use the three-point shot as their number one option versus hitting the roll man or attacking the lane), but those teams have competent shooters who have confidence in their ability to knock down jumpers. The Bucks on the other hand are a team at their worst when they are settling for jumpers, yet they continue to do so, and in my opinion, that is the main reason why their offense has been sputtering all season.

Bogut should provide some balance to the Bucks offense, but due to his elbow injury he is taking two fewer shots inside 9 feet a game and is shooting a lower percentage as well this season.

But it’s a mentality — the Bucks settle. What needs to change (next season) is that mentality, and some play calling that encourages getting the ball into the paint more.

  1. suavalisto - Mar 17, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    Bucks scoring 98.2 points per possession? Jennings must be averaging a double-quadruple per game. Get it? Because they score like 50,000 points per game? Profit: actually edit your articles. Amateur hour.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 17, 2011 at 12:45 PM

      Thanks for pointing that out. My bad and I fixed it.

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