Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Jennings’

Bucks are losing every positional battle except Point Guard

February 8, 2012

If you think the Milwaukee Bucks don’t miss injured C Andrew Bogut, take a look at the Positional Win Chart below.  I created the chart by calculating the Marginal Win Score average and corresponding winning percentage at each position on the court for the Bucks and their collective opponents, using the Positional Statistics available on

Milwaukee Bucks Positional Win Chart


Jennings winning the Point

Brandon Jennings is winning his battle at Point Guard, as I outlined in an earlier post.  He’s having a fine season.   But generally speaking, the Milwaukee Bucks are not.  As a team, the Bucks are losing every position other than Point Guard, and without Bogut’s presence they are getting absolutely MASSACRED at the Center position.

As the chart shows, 4.1 of the team’s losses can be attributed to the disparity in statistical production between the Bucks Centers and their Opponents Centers.  The Bucks are absolutely bleeding out at that position.  Gooden is a volume scorer who plays no defense and doesn’t keep his opponents off the boards.  Sanders is a joke.  And Brockman has been hurt.  The Bucks really need to shore up the frontline.

And, they need to start winning at some position other than the Point Guard.  I’m hoping that will be small forward, but Carlos Delfino has been slumping, and Mike Dunleavy can’t seem to stay healthy.

That’s life as a mediocre NBA team, I guess.


Has Brandon Jennings finally broken out?

February 3, 2012

The Bucks have lost C Andrew Bogut for the season, yet they are playing some of their best basketball in years.  The team has taken down the Miami Heat twice, and the Lakers once, in the last ten days alone.

Why is this happening?  Well, its not Stephen Jackson.  He is sucking the wind out of the team’s sails.  Its not Carlos Delfino.  He’s in one of his biggest slumps since he came to Milwaukee.

Its PG Brandon Jennings!  Jennings is on an amazing role and right now he is now the prohibitive favorite to win the Team MVP award at the end of the season.

Here’s a look at the latest Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart for 2011-12:


Jennings 8.25 5.59 1.33 0.728 2.3__0.9 0.7 3.1
Livingston 6.62 4.55 1.03 0.677 1.4__0.7 0.3 1.7
Dunleavy 7.91 2.17 2.87 0.989 1.1__0.0 0.5 1.6
Delfino 7.12 6.34 0.39 0.568 1.2__0.9 0.2 1.4
Leuer 12.12 9.61 1.25 0.715 0.9__0.4 0.3 1.2
Udrih 4.01 3.23 0.39 0.568 0.6__0.4 0.1 0.7
Bogut 11.47 13.51 -1.02 0.329 0.5__1.0 -0.3 0.2
Ilyasova 13.01 15.69 -1.34 0.275 0.5__1.4 -0.4 0.1
Harris 6.08 6.69 -0.31 0.451 0.2__0.4 -0.1 0.1
Jackson 1.39 4.64 -1.62 0.226 0.5__1.8 -0.6 -0.1
Brockman 11.39 14.97 -1.79 0.198 0.0__0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Hobson -6.67 2.58 -4.47 -0.271 0.0__0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Moute 7.38 11.49 -2.05 0.154 0.2__0.8 -0.4 -0.2
Sanders 4.67 11.42 -3.37 -0.071 0.0__0.8 -0.4 -0.4
Gooden 11.22 17.01 -2.89 0.011 0.0__1.7 -0.8 -0.8
TOTAL 9.4__11.6
ACT 10.0__11.0


As you can see, Brandon Jennings Value Ranking (3.1) is well past any other Buck.  But he is not alone amongst the contributors.  Some new Bucks are also doing well.

The new Bucks who are playing well are SF Mike Dunleavy, G Shaun Livingston, PF/C Jon Leuer, and G Beno Udrih.

Amongst the aforementioned, I would say Dunleavy has been the best contribution.  If he could stay healthy, and that’s a HUGE “if”, he can transform the Bucks fortunes.  In fact, if you want to go by trends, the team has seemed to trend much, much better whenever Dunleavy has played.  Now, I don’t want to get into a whole “plus/minus” discussion, because I think that statistic is fraught with problems, but the Bucks have clearly played better when Dunleavy has been on the court.

But, unlike “+/-“, which claims to capture some sort of ethereal “intangible” value, I would credit Dunleavy’s value to Dunleavy himself (“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves”).  Dunleavy has been fairly productive on his side of the statistical ledger, and he has been good at making his opponents box score stats look ugly.  In fact, his Defensive Win Score has been outstanding, and as a cumulative result, I have him adding 1.1 wins to the Bucks and I don’t credit him with any losses.  Dunleavy was a quiet post-labor addition to the Bucks, but a big one.  He is an excellent “producer” and has been since, probably, his second or third season in the Association.  He gets underestimated because of the amount of melanin in his skin (I believe).

The other big additions to the main rotation have been G Shaun Livingston and Jon Leuer.  Livingston, like Dunleavy, has been a productive professional if and when he has been able to stay healthy.  Health has been his big bugaboo.  Before his ugly, ugly knee blow-out, many compared him to a young Magic Johnson.  While that appears to have been a comparison too far, he certainly is closer to being the next Magic Johnson than he is to being the next Sweet Pea Daniels (the ghetto legend whom I played against one summer at Five Star).

Finally, the surprise that is Jon Leuer.  Leuer has been magnificent, and it appears he is no flash in the pan.  Who would have thunk it?  Everyone I know from the Land of Cheese had Leuer pegged as another productive collegian from the University of Wisconsin who would never find a place in the Show (call it “The Curse of Ron Dayne”).  But, in fact, he has been a very productive professional, and it appears that it wasn’t mere “beginner’s luck”.  He seems to be here to stay.  Another big second round pick by the Bucks (Michael Redd, Luc Moute, etc).


But, again, the big story is Mr. Brandon Jennings.  After watching him for the last couple of seasons, I concluded that he would never break into the elite or even sub-elite ranks.  He just didn’t shoot well enough, and he shot too much.  He couldn’t make plays for his teammates either.  His defense was good, he generally handled the ball well enough, but he just wasn’t efficient with scoring possessions.  This season — SO FAR — Jennings has switched that around.

The difference in Jennings scoring efficiency has been his much improved 2pt percentage.  Coming into this season, Jennings was a 39% shooter from 2 point range, this season he is a much improved 47% shooter.  His improvement has been two fold — he’s knocking down his medium range jumpers, and — most of all — he’s finishing at the rim.  In past seasons, Jennings has been atrocious at the rim.  Not this season.  This season he is completing 59% of his drives with two balls.

Can it continue for the Tiny Man?  I believe it can (Knock on wood).  As you remember in past seasons, I said the art of finishing at the rim for little men in the NBA is the art of angles.  Look at Steve Nash.  He isn’t fast and cannot jump over the Peshtigo phone book.  But he can finish at the rim because he can make shots from unblockable release points.  Its all about angles.  I’ve noticed this in Jennings game.  Against the Bulls, for instance, he picked Derrick Rose’s pocket, took the ball down, used his body to shield the impending Rose, and then finished with a nifty looking little semi-hook shot.  Angles… if you can make shots from unblockable angles, you can negate the advantage of height.  It seems Brandon Jennings has learned this lesson.  Time and experience in the Association have been his teachers.  Now let’s just see if he can maintain his grades.

Jennings vs. Sessions: which one is “special”?

January 15, 2010

This summer for some odd reason the Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t wait to run PG Ramon Sessions out of town.  They had to make room for the redundant draft choice Brandon Jennings.  One of the reasons given publicly for this switch — and this is cruel irony at its finest — was that Sessions supposedly “couldn’t shoot”.

At the time I pointed out (or “whined” depending on your point of view) that history was not on the Bucks side.  Rarely do you see examples of 19 year old inexperienced point guards succeeding in the NBA.  And Jennings past statistics gave ZERO indication that he would be different.

At first it looked like I was dead wrong, as Jennings shot a mindboggling percentage in his first few professional games.  But I remained skeptical.  I not only believed the fast start was a mirage, I thought it was a dangerous mirage.  Jennings now had carte blanche to hoist away.  And its hurt the Bucks.

Expected points versus actual points

I’m in the process of doing a quick analysis of how many points each Milwaukee Buck is costing the team or adding to the team based on the type of shots he’s taking and the number of points the average player would deliver on those same mix of shots.  I am using the “shot location” data on, as well as their “expected field goal %s” from each range to do the study.

I’m not done but its looking like the costliest Bucks are Jennings (-35.8), Redd (-26.6), and Delfino (-25.4).  The most productive shooter, it looks like is going to either be Ilyasova (+2.1) or possibly Warrick, who I haven’t yet done.

Just for shits and grins I jumped over to the Twolves list and checked our old friend Ramon Sessions to find out how he’s producing.  The guy they needed to replace… because he couldn’t shoot.

He’s actually producing (+1.2) points above average.

Given that Jennings almost certainly took minutes that would have gone to Sessions, and given that in most other statistical categories Sessions is either even with or superior to Jennings, we can replace the two and make a dirty “what if” calculation (I note that Jennings defense is statistically better, but Sessions numbers are hampered by playing with the NBA’s  smallest frontline behind him.)

If you give the Bucks those missing points they would be on a trajectory that would land them around 41 wins rather than the sub 34 wins they are headed for now.

Counterfactuals are never conclusive, but its interesting to speculate.  Hopefully Jennings better days are ahead of him.  We’re probably in “wait till next year” mode anyway.

FOOTNOTE:  I was right about Bogut too.  Its not that he’s shooting poorly (he’s actually dead even in points delivered), its that he’s taking poor shots.  Based on the type shots he’s attempted, he’s making as many as the average shooter.  But he’s not delivering the shooting percentage he usually delivers and he’s not delivering what a center usually delivers, so that’s not good enough.  The problem has to be that he needs to take more high percentage shots.  Shooting below positional average is just as detrimental to the team as shooting below “shot mix” average.

Milwaukee Bucks “Needs Improvement” list

January 13, 2010

Here are some random items Bucks players need to work on in the second half of the season:

Andrew Bogut

1. Defensive eFG

In general Andrew Bogut does a nice job of limiting the production of his opponent centers.  There’s one area he can do better in though: opponent field goal percentage.  He is currently allowing centers to shoot 53.3%, which is below average and Bogut’s worst on the ball defense since his second season.

2. No Jumpers Andy!

Remember my post a couple seasons (and a couple of blogs) back about Andrew Bogut and his useless jump shooting?  Essentially I reckoned he could be a much better win producer if he simply stopped shooting jumpers.  Last season he basically did and the results followed.  Now he’s back to shooting them and his eFG is way down.  I’d fine him every time he shot one.

3. Fear not the free throw line

If you look at Andrew Bogut’s “clutch” stats its obvious that late in close games he goes soft.  His jump shot percentage goes way up, and his numbers go way down.  I know why.  He doesn’t want to risk having to shoot a free throw.  That’s stupid!  Even if he makes only one of two, that’s much better than the average Buck possession.

Brandon Jennings

1. Get some Nash

Did you realize that when Brandon Jennings goes into the lane he gets his shot blocked 21% of the time, but when the supposedly “unathletic” Steve Nash goes into the lane he gets his shot blocked a mere 4% of the time?  Athleticism is THE most over rated trait in basketball.  Basketball skill and craftiness are much more important.  Jennings needs to learn how to finish at the rim then he will be complete.

Luc Moute

1. Get on the offensive boards

The one  area where Luc Moute’s game has diminshed is the offensive boards.  He still gets an above average percent, but with his limited offense he needs to do better than that.  He has to live off those easy put backs.

Hak Warrick

1. Finish in the lane

Warrick is making only 44% of his “close” shots.  He has to better than that… he’s a power forward.

Carlos Delfino

1. Find the three

Without the three, Delfino is useless offensively.  I realize its a high variance shot, but a half a season of missing is a high enough variance I think.

Every Buck

1. Get on the offensive glass

When you can’t shoot a lick, you have to pound the offensive glass relentlessly for second chancers.  The Bucks are currently 21st in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage.  They have to do better than that.  I doubt they will, though.  Last season they were 22nd.

2. Better free throw line defense

I’m being sarcastic.  But did you realize this is the second season in a row the Bucks opponents have  shot a higher than average free throw percentage against them?  That’s got to be bad luck, right?  Anyway, it costs the team real wins.  Last season the Bucks were the unluckiest “free throw  in the entire NBA.  This season they’ve improved to third unluckiest.  (and it doesn’t have anything to do with the extra opportunities the Bucks give up either.  Indiana gave up the second most opportunities last season yet their opponents shot well under the NBA average… and one has to assume they played virtually the same schedule as Milwaukee.  Curious.)

Why was I so wrong about the Bucks?

January 11, 2010

Its time to call myself to task.  Remember back in the days preceding the current Milwaukee Bucks season when I made my final Bucks win projection?

Remember the hubris?  Based on preseason performance, and other variables, I claimed the Milwaukee Bucks would win 40 games, and I provided an estimated win chart to back up my prediction.  At this moment, nearly half way into the season, the team projects closer to 33 wins.  How, or rather “why”, did I get it so wrong?

An Examination of My Errors

Lets examine.  Because went down, the post itself is no longer accessible, but I still have the google document with the original win chart.  Here it is.  I have added two columns to the chart to show how far off I was on my original prediction based upon each player’s win contribution (because that takes into consideration not only the player’s performance but also his availability).

Initially, it looks as though I was way off.  Oddly enough, the one guy I got right was Ersan Ilyasova, and that was based upon a guesstimate more than anything.  But more often I got players production numbers pretty wrong.

The players I got really wrong were Ridnour, Bogut, Redd, Moute, and Thomas.  Four of them I was too optimistic about, and Ridnour I was too pessimistic about. (Remember I wrote Meeks off altogether based on his poor preseason, but for the purposes of the chart Ukic’s numbers serve as the generic “3rd string SG” numbers).  You could also say I got Jennings wrong, but everyday he is working very hard to make my numbers right.

Reexamining based on average Bucks seasons

But actually, upon further examination, I didn’t do too badly at all.  The one area that is supposed to be the most reliable, each player’s offensive Win Score statistics, turned out to be the area that mucked me up.  There’s no way to account for that.  And the area that should be most difficult to predict — each player’s “defensive” Win Score statistics — I actually got almost exactly right.

A second chart

I did a follow up chart that compares each player’s numbers to date versus the numbers they would be producing if they merely met their average career offensive Win Score numbers.  Meaning, I held their current defensive (or “Opponent”) Win Score per 48 averages constant, and then plugged in their career offensive (or “Individual”) Win Score numbers and then I calculated what their new MWS48 averages and win production would be.  Here is that new chart.

As you can see, if every Milwaukee Bucks player who had NBA experience coming into this season played the exact same defense and merely produced their personal average offensive numbers (save for Ilyasova who clearly had improved in Europe over the NBA numbers he put up as an 18 year old, so I didn’t include him), the Bucks would actually be exactly where projected them to be.  Remember, that isn’t asking for their best performance, just their run-of-the-mill performance.

Is this good news going forward?  Maybe, but probably not.  As you can see, the one player who was most underperforming himself was, of course, Michael Redd.  He was a whopping 1.1 wins under average.  And now he’s gone.  The next biggest underperformer has been Luc Moute.  Since he was a rookie last season its hard to tell if this season is the aberration or if last season was, or if the numbers he’s producing this season are actually his norm.

Players who might provide for some improvement are Charlie Bell, Hakim Warrick, and Carlos Delfino.  If each of them can continue with their respective defensive numbers, and then can merely add their average offensive numbers to that, the Bucks could improve.

But actually, the one player Bucks fans may legitimately place some hope in is a surprise.  It’s Jodie Meeks (the player I was so low on I didn’t even include him in my preseason win chart!).  He’s actually having a pretty good offensive season, much better than Michael Redd was having.  What he needs to do is clean up his defense.  If he can improve there, he could — surprisingly — be an upgrade from Redd.

Bogut’s having “Above Average” Season?

One other point.  Andrew Bogut is actually performing above his career numbers at the moment.  As you recall coming into this season I did a career win resume for Andrew that showed that for most of his career he’s been just an average center.

The disappointment for me is that Bogut is performing well below the numbers he produced last season.  I was hoping (probably against logic) that Bogut had established a new norm for himself last season.  It looks instead like last season was a bit of an outlier, as they say.

Also, it seems as though he is a really situational center.  Meaning, it seems as though he can produce well against poor centers, but if you put someone decent in front of him he really doesn’t do much.   I have an idea how I can check that theory and I will report back with my findings.


I just reexamined my original win chart once again.  Actually, if I had to do it all over, I probably wouldn’t change anything.  None of the numbers are ridiculous.  Most of them were actually fairly conservative — except for the playing minutes, I guess, and I relied on BasketballProspectus for those.

Otherwise, nothing was really out-of-whack.  Bogut was coming off a +2.40 MWS48 season and I projected him at +1.80.  I projected Redd under his career average, and the same goes for Moute.  In fact, every one of the projections was made under each of the player’s demonstrated best season.

The problem is, everyone except Ridnour is well below his best season, never mind his “average” season.  And Kurt Thomas, a player I really relied on despite the fact that he showed some wear on his tires in the preseason, has simply dropped off the cliff.  In retrospect the team would have been much better served had they kept Amir Johnson and given the backup center minutes to him.  He’s having a productive season in Toronto.

Updated Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart

December 28, 2009 just updated their statistical information and I used it to update the Milwaukee Bucks Win Chart.  (Click Here to see the chart updated to 12-27-09).

If you do not know how to make sense of the information in the chart, there is a page dedicated to it in the column to the right.

Bucks have structural problems

I was really anticipating this update because I wanted to pin some responsibility somewhere for the Bucks woes.  To be honest, I was with one of the commenters who speculated it could be Michael Redd’s fault.  My information doesn’t suggest that.  My information suggests its been a dip in the play of the players I refer to as the team’s “structural players”: SF Carlos Delfino, PF Hakim Warrick, PF/C Ersan Ilyasova, and SF/PF Luc Moute.  Each of those 4 have seen a dramatic decline in their Player Win Averages over the last ten days, and that has really led to the Bucks slide.

Yes, Luke Ridnour’s numbers have declined but he really had nowhere to go but down.  He is not an elite point guard, yet he was producing like one.  The scary thing is, the team was relying on him to continue producing like one.  Bad bet.

As for Mr. Redd, his play has actually improved drastically, but it could hardly have gotten worse.  He’s still not at his normal production level, but at least there is now hope he might get there.

Don’t blame Tiny

Bogut and Jennings, the team’s mainstays, basically held at the level they were playing at the last time I updated the Bucks Win Chart on December 16th.

Sure, Bogut has regressed from the super season he had last season, but only half way back to his previously established average in the prior seasons (he was basically a .500% player prior to last season).  I sort of expected he might do that.  As athletes are fond of saying, “He is who he is”.  Bogut struggles on some nights, and dominates on others.  He’s not a bust, he’s a good center.  But I don’t think there’s any chance he will ever be an elite center.

Point guard Brandon Jennings, I have no problem with (a little Yiddish sentence structure).  Others I’m guessing do have a problem with him because, to paraphrase Denny Green, “he isn’t who they thought he was” (ESPN has taken to posting what I call “sarcastic statistics” for Jennings on their underscreen scroll.  You know, unremarkable statistics with some negative emphasis — usually poor field goal shooting).

But I warned BucksNation against overinflated expectation.  Without the hype, and considering his age and experience,  Brandon Jennings is well outperforming any reasonable expectation at this point.

Of course when Homer True is claiming in November that you “saved the franchise”, and Jim Paschke spends a month referencing you into every aspect of every game, I’d say any notion of balance or “reason” pretty much flew out the window.

I also need to mention Charlie Bell, a player I frequently target for my ad hominem attacks.  Bell is also playing well above my expectation and well above anyone else at his position and he deserves to keep getting minutes.

But the Bucks really need to get one or more of those aforementioned “structural players” going again.  I think Delfino and Moute can reimprove, and I have hopes for Ilyasova, but I have to be honest with you: I hate Hakim Warrick.  He’s never consistently produced strong “win” numbers, and I doubt he ever will.  His game is mismatched with his body and with his talent.  He basically has a “strong player” game without having the strength or efficiency needed to pull it off.  The numbers he is putting up now are right in line with his career averages, so I don’t know.

In closing, I guess my question to Bucks management is this.  When will the organization end its infatuation with “floor stretchers” (i.e. “We think ____ can really stretch the floor”) and finally invest in some “floor shrinkers”?  You can’t have a winning team that cannot make two point field goals.  This is the National Basketball Association, not the Euro League.

Brandon Jennings since his Double Nickel

December 20, 2009

I just did a chart showing the production of Milwaukee Bucks PG Brandon Jennings and his opposition PGs since his now-legendary “Double Nickel”.  (Click Here to see that chart)

He’s actually played about exactly where I expected him to play coming into the season (I think my Player Win Average estimate for him was something closer to .348%, but close enough).  And I have no qualms with any part of his game except his shooting efficiency, which has been just bad.  In fact, if you simply assumed he had a zero  scoring efficiency (he was producing one point for every FGA + .5FTA used), which in itself is less than the average point guard produced last season (+0.9 per scoring possession used), then he would have a positive Marginal Win Score (oddly, the one other area where he is below average is steals… something it seemed like based on this summer he would excel at).

I still think the Bucks are too Jennings dependent however.  Here’s an “ESPNy” stat for you that I discovered doing that chart above.  In games in which Brandon Jennings has shot at least 44.0% from the field, the Bucks are 6-0.  In games in which he has shot below that mark, they are, obviously, 5-14.   Too much dependence on a rookie point guard.

Oh, one more thing.  Even though Jennings is shooting miserably overall, he’s actually a very good free throw shooter and a slightly above average 3 point shooter.  He simply cannot make two point shots!  I think that’s an issue of physical maturity.  If you compare him to even slender point guards like Tony Parker, the difference is astonishing.  But that will change.  Its just that the Bucks will be paying the freight until it does.