If last season featured one of the most enjoyable editions of the Milwaukee Bucks, this season has to be one of the most painful. The Bucks are a championship level defensive team, and a YMCA level offensive team. No one in green can make a shot with any consistency. Clank, clank, clank. That should be the 2010-11 Bucks theme song.
Oh, before I continue, a quick sidebar. Did anyone see the article where Corey Maggette rates his Milwaukee experience an “F”? Did I not tell you he was the “malcontent”? What the hell are the Bucks waiting for? Remove the tumor.
Back to the story at hand. This morning I did a Team Marginal Win Score per 48 analysis of the Bucks and their Opponents to find the team’s overall MWS48. At the moment the Bucks Team Win Score average is 33.24 per 48. The Bucks Opponents’ Team Win Score average is 38.04. That works out to a Win Score differential of (-4.80). If you divide that number by 10, you get an overall Team MWS48 of (-0.480). Over the course of 7225 player minutes, Marginal Win Score would expect a team with an MWS48 of (-0.480) to win 12.6 games, exactly the number the Bucks have won so far.
I bring all this up to illustrate how bad the team’s offense has been to date. In that regard, let me first note that I’ve been calculating NBA Team MWS48s for a couple of seasons now and the Bucks MWS48 is the lowest I’ve ever recorded.
The Bucks Team Win Score 48 of 33.24 is currently -9.02 below the NBA Team Win Score Average of 42.26, while their defense is +4.22. Thus, of the (-0.480) Team MWS48 mentioned above (which is effectively a sum of every player’s “Win Contribution”), the offense accounts for (-1.804) of that total, while the defense accounts for (+0.844).
Here is what that means in terms of wins and losses. It means the offense is responsible for 2.9 of the Bucks wins and 12.1 of the Bucks losses, an overall offensive winning percentage of .193%. Put a different way, if the Bucks had a defense that was merely average instead of well above average, the Bucks would be a 15-67 team.
Here’s the tragic part. The Bucks have a championship level defense, something that is hard to come by. Season after season, only 33% of NBA teams feature Opponent Win Scores that are below the NBA average. Most of those teams make the playoffs, and one of them always wins the championship. You have to go back to the 80s Lakers to find a championship team without such a feature.
So theoretically, the Bucks have positioned themselves within the small cabal of dangerous postseason teams. Except one little bitty tiny detail. An elite, playoff or championship level defense is wasted without a counterpart offense that is at least respectable. The Bucks do not have that, and its killing their prospects.
To illustrate this point, by my calculations the Bucks defense is responsible for 9.7 of the team’s 12.6 wins and only 5.3 of its 17.4 losses. Those are great defensive results. If the Bucks merely had an average Team Win Score, they would be a 47-35 team, precisely where I projected them to be before the season, and precisely where they ought to be based on the career average production of their roster.
But that’s not where they’re headed, and its all because of their anemic offense. It has to be the worst in Bucks history. I will go back and review, but I’d be astonished to find another offense that would be so unproductive. As I said, competent offense is not that hard to come by. Generally when a team has 25-28 wins its mostly because they play no defense.
So why is the Bucks offense so bad? If you break things down into component parts, you can see that everything revolves around the team’s inability to turn scoring attempts into points at anything like a respectable rate.
Below is a chart breaking down the statistical parts that make up the Win Score averages of: (1) the Bucks, (2) the NBA, and (3) the Bucks Opponents. Win Score can be summarized by its three main parts:
(1) Scoring Efficiency: (Points – FGAs – .5FTAs)
(2) Net Possession Creation: (Rebounds + Steals – Turnovers)
(3) Net “Helpful” Acts: (.5Assists + .5Blocks – .5PFouls)
2010-11 Milwaukee Bucks Win Score Breakdown
||33.24||-2.4 (-8.1)||+34.8 (+1.0)||0.8 (-1.6)||.193%|
||38.04||+4.7 (+1.0)||+32.3 (+1.5)||+1.2 (+1.2)||(.646)%|
As you can see, the Bucks are bleeding heavily in one area: Scoring Efficiency. The Scoring Efficiency gap between the Bucks and their Opponents of (-7.1) efficient points per game has cost the team nearly 11.5 losses by itself.
Its not as difficult to produce points as the Bucks are making it seem. The average NBA team posts +5.7 more points per game than scoring attempts expended, and nearly every team is able to produce at least as many points as scoring attempts expended. Only two teams do not. The Bucks and the Kings. That’s it. That’s the list. And its killing the Bucks.
To bear this out, next time you are reviewing a Bucks box score, do what I do. Go through each player’s line, count the number of field goal attempts, add one-half the number of free throw attempts, and then look at the player’s point total and see if it exceeds that amount. When you are finished with the Bucks, go down to the opponents box and do the same.
On a nightly basis, you will be lucky to find two Bucks players with positive scoring totals, while the opponent players routinely feature four or five such totals. If you want to know why the Bucks are not meeting expectations this season, that’s why.