Part Two: Milwaukee Bucks Midseason Grades 2022-2023
“Do we really have to comment on everything?”
I have a really good friend who uses the line above quite a bit. We’ll be out having a beer and he’ll just yell it. I think he gets frustrated reading so much out there about the news or politics or the Packers or about people’s food plates for dinner.
Of course the irony is never lost on the both of us, me being someone who comments on the Bucks constantly for wisportsheroics. (Check out my other work here)
These grades are, in fact ultimately just that, comments. If anyone is looking for an overall comment it has to be this: things are good.
In Part One it was time to talk about greatness. Who are the players that can help the Bucks win a championship? Sure it is easy to give Giannis is an A++++++++++. He is a once in a generation talent we certainly won’t see for a long time, if ever. We all know that. We have a section called, “Giannis Antetokounmpo news”. We don’t have a section called “AJ Green” news.
And like in part one that is no knock on AJ Green. Being a professional basketball player in itself is certainly a lifetime achievement.
But if these grades seem harsh or feel too tough, that is because this team really has depth that is “unrealized”. That depth has proven to only be able to extend so far. That was so apparent in the Dec. 5th game in Charlotte. A “bullpen-game”, the Bucks won on a back to back playing only bench players. That now, in retrospect, feels more like the exception than the rule.
All grades are subject to NBA standards and of course are highly up for debate. Please make those comments below.
Serge Ibaka Grade: F
The Bucks brought in Ibaka to be a 4th big guy, almost as insurance in case Brook Lopez didn’t look right. That move hasn’t paid off. He’s only played in two games in the past month. Now it appears to be over.
At least we had that awkward moment when, during his cooking show, Ibaka woke up Giannis from his nap. (Skip ahead to 7:30)
Bobby Portis Grade: B+
Really, this is the only player that could have made it to the “day one” ratings and deserved it. A true fan favorite (who doesn’t love his energy and the “Bobby”, “Bobby”, “Bobby” chants) Bobby Portis is having a more than serviceable year relative to other NBA players, averaging right at ten rebounds a game and just over 14 points per game (both close to career highs). Portis is the 4th leading scorer on the Bucks. But of course, with him, it tends to be the intangibles that have helped this team the most, providing energy lost with the departure of PJ Tucker.
The 27 year old still has something left in the tank. And he plays like he has something to prove.
Simply put, Bobby is a career 12 and 8 guy. This year, 14/10/1 has helped Milwaukee win some games. Of course, he could stand to pass more. Shooting 49% from the field is serviceable. Shooting 32% from three isn’t very good. Nor is having only one assist per game.
Grayson Allen Grade: B-
Also 27, Grayson Allen has been getting some decent recognition as a strong defender.
His numbers are fine(10/3/2). He could stand to shoot a tick better. (44% from the field.)
The Bucks formula is to have Giannis plow through the defense and either score or kick out the ball to a shooter. And the Budenholzer game plan has always centered around taking lots of threes and hoping they go in. Allen seems to be fitting in and improving with every game. He just needs to hit more shots. And he will.
Now the Bucks have placed a renewed emphasis on defending the three. Allen has also done a nice job there.
He is Bucks’ 5th leading scorer; he averages another 3 rebounds and 3 assists in about 28 minutes of play and his field goal percentage is a little down. Once he starts sinking more shots, I think this grade moves up. He seems due in the second half for more 18 point/8 rebound/5 assist type stat line.
Then again, he is always the one player who seems to be ready to be traded.
George Hill Grade: D-
Speaking of being traded, up next is George Hill, who has been traded quite a few times.
When Hill plays he is a good fit. He slows the tempo down and does not turn the ball over. However, Jevon Carter has really cut into his minutes. His numbers are also down. (5/2/2) He is also 36 years old.
At the time of this writing, he is averaging LESS than a turnover a game. For Hill, his role with the Bucks is best to “hold serve”.
He has an amazing free throw percentage 95% at the time of the writing, gets steals and facilitates. It just does not necessarily show up in the assists category because he tends to be a pass behind the shot. I think this grade goes up as well in the second half.
Jordan Nwora Grade: D+
The Louisville product continues to come in for the Bucks, shoot a couple threes, make em, and then sit for long stretches. For whatever reason the Bucks don’t seem to be committed to him. Nor does he seem to be committed to Milwaukee.
Here there is some truth in the stats.
Against the Heat on a Saturday afternoon on ABC TV, Nwora had zero points, zero rebounds and zero assists in zero minutes.
Against the Pacers on MLK day he had 14 points, 6 rebounds, was 4-4 from three and played 23 minutes.
In life a D+ gets you credit for the class. But it ain’t going to boost that GPA.
Pat Connaughton Grade: D+
Statistically “Planet Pat” is more like Nwora than we care to admit.
Another fan favorite and seemingly position-less player who shoots a ton of threes, this is just my personal thought here on local real-estate developer Pat Connaughton. Have the Boston Celtics ever inquired on trading for him and if they have, were they willing to offer a couple of first round picks for him? A seemingly perfect fit for Boston sports, Connaughton has some numbers that are down due to some early season injuries.
Right now his numbers are down (8/4/1).
He’s only averaging eight points per game and is shooting right around 32% from the three point line. But relative to his NBA peers, this just isn’t good enough.
Wesley Matthews Grade: D
(2/1/1) He just doesn’t play much. He’s 36 playing in his 13th NBA season. All we can hope for now is a 4-5 minute playoff stretch where he turns the tide of a game.
He can play defense for small spurts. But this might be it for Matthews. He is having kinda a “blip” of a season. But if the Bucks can go far or even win it all, he’ll be able to retire a Marquette-hero.
AJ Green Grade: D
The rookie can shoot. Undrafted in the 2022 draft, he signed a two-way deal with Milwaukee. He has played well at times, making things happen at times when Milwaukee really needed it.
And just playing in the NBA as an undrafted free agent is a major accomplishment. The Northern Iowa product is truly setting himself up to get some kind of contract and some kind of money. He really has been quite a “value”.
The 24 year old comes from a basketball family. His Dad is an assistant coach at Iowa State.
Joe Ingles Grade: C-
Playing on a mid-level exception it seems like Ingles is “mid-level”. (8/2/4)
The 35 year old from Australia is a legendary NBA trash talker. His value here is his 40% shooting percentage from behind the arc. He also has done a better passing the ball and at times has been “Middleton” in the Giannis/Middleton pick and pops.
He’s on a one year deal. Arguably his best game was against Toronto on Jan. 17th. (15/6/8). He played 31 minutes and really seemed to help elevate the offense.
MarJon Beauchamp Grade: C
The 1st round pick has really settled in with the Bucks as a slash and score guard. It would not be surprising if he gets some major minutes near the end of the season and into the playoffs. (6/2/1) He has only averaged 15 minutes a game. We all worry he might hit the dreaded NBA “rookie-wall”.
Jevon Carter Grade: D+
Carter began the season as a starter in the Philadelphia win. Now he hardly plays. (7/2/2) Of course the ironic part is on a different team, he’d probably get over 20 minutes per game.
He really is a good complimentary point guard, able to distribute the ball and put pressure on the other team’s opposing point guard. But in the squeeze for minutes, is he going to play more as the season continues? Probably not.
Sandro Mamukelashvili Grade: D-
Splitting his time between Oshkosh and Milwaukee, Mamu has had a few nice moments covering for a few minutes here or there. But that’s about it. (2/2/1)
He still continues to develop into a player who could be a nice back-up big man. He certainly has helped contribute to not “needing” Ibaka.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo Grade: F
Watching Thanasis step in and get four fouls in five minutes at the end of the Hornets blowout loss and home was probably the most exciting part of that game. I’m just not sure what Thanasis is good at as a pro, other than following guys.
Last season I was able to watch him get seven fouls called on him in nine minutes against the Rockets. (One was overturned.) When it comes to the first half of his season, that feels to be about it. He really does not shoot well and when he plays he has this out of control style like his brother. But again, when you can’t score or create your own shot it just looks out of control.
Being in the NBA and being one of the 450 best players in the world is a great accomplishment. (Certainly, more than I could ever dream of.) But I’m just not sure where the value is here and, to say it out loud, without his famous younger brother being on the Bucks is Thanasis on this team?
“DO we really have to comment on everything?”
I get it; we all really don’t. But in the case of these grades (comments) it seems fair to say that we all really want to know a little more about this squad we’ll be watching so closely when the playoffs start in April.
Something will change between now and the February 9th trading deadline. But until then, let’s see if we can’t get some better help from the Bucks 5-15 guys. Comments and all.
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