Category Archives: Milwaukee Bucks

Team Expected Scoring – Final Regular Season Numbers

On Monday, we looked at the final regular season Expected Scoring numbers for individual players. Today we’re moving on, looking at those same numbers at the team level. You can find all the data at the Expected Scoring – Statistics and Analysis page, or at this link.

Expected Scoring is a way of combining a player or team’s shot selection and shooting percentages into one measure of scoring efficiency. Here’s the longer explanation:

Expected Scoring uses a player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This Point Differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals.  The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.

All of the individual Expected Scoring numbers are per 40 minutes. For the team stats we look at everything per game. By overall Point Differential, the top five shooting teams in the league were:

  • Miami: +5.72
  • Dallas: +5.27
  • San Antonio: +4.89
  • Phoenix: +4.37
  • Boston: +3.94

The bottom five were:

  • Cleveland: -4.28
  • Milwaukee: -3.71
  • Washington: -2.94
  • Charlotte: -2.74
  • Sacramento: -2.35

The New Jersey Nets didn’t make the bottom five, but joined the Bucks and Cavaliers as the only offenses with a negative Point Differential from every area of the floor. The Miami Heat were the only team with a positive Point Differential from every area of the floor.

Looking at these numbers, now for the second season, I’m amazed at how much of a difference excelling or struggling from just one area of the floor can make. The Toronto Raptors scored right around the expected rate from every area of the floor, except for on three-pointers, where they posted a Point Differential of -1.78. If they had shot just the league average on three-pointers it would have taken their Point Differential from a -0.83 to a +0.95.

The Clippers had the 6th best Point Differential on shots at the rim, +2.63. However, they were atrocious from everywhere else on the floor posting Point Differentials worse than -1.0 from the free throw line, on three-pointers, from 16-23ft. and from 3-9ft. If they had finished at the league average on shots at the rim, their overall Point Differential would have been -4.44. Basically they dunking of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan kept the Clippers from having the worst shooting offense in the league.

Stay tuned for a few more Expected Scoring pieces between now and the end of the playoffs!

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Individual Expected Scoring – Final Regular Season Numbers

I’ve missed that narrow window between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs, but the final Expected Scoring numbers have arrived at long last. You can find them here, or by following the link through the Expected Scoring – Statistics and Analysis page.

If you’ve haven’t been following my Expected Scoring posts this season, then congratulations, you’re in the vast majority of basketball fans. Expected Scoring is a way of combining a player’s shot selection and shooting percentages into one measure of scoring efficiency. Here’s the longer explanation:

Expected Scoring uses a player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This Point Differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals.  The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.

There’s a lot to look at, so I thought I would just pull out a few highlights and lowlights.

Overall

For the second straight season, the overall Point Differential leader was Dirk Nowitzki (minimum 500 minutes played). Not only was he the most efficient scorer in the league, but he belongs to a small and elite group of players who posted a positive Point Differential from every area of the floor: Chris Paul, Daequan Cook, Pau Gasol, Ray Allen, Beno Udrih, Gary Neal, Steve Nash, Elton Brand and Nowitzki.

Rookies

This list really underscores how rare it is to find a rookie who plays within themselves, understands their strengths and weaknesses, and can provide efficient scoring right off the bat. 34 rookies played at least 500 minutes this season. Only these five, and Trevor Booker, of the Washington Wizards, posted a positive Point Differential across the entire season.

Most Improved:

Here are some players who saw big improvement in their point differential versus last season.

Young received a lot of attention this year for making himself into a somewhat efficient scorer. His transformation was based largely on a career high, and possibly unsustainable, field goal percentage on long two-pointers. Darrell Arthur and DeAndre Jordan seem like more likely candidates to repeat their levels of scoring efficiency next season.

Not So Hot

These are the guys who make you dig your fingernails into your palm everytime they even look at the rim.

There’s a ton of information here, and I’ve only done a cursory job of reviewing it. If you find something interesting that I’ve missed, feel free to share it in the comments! Final team Expected Scoring numbers should be up later this week.

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Last Night’s Numbers – 4/14/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a (mostly) daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Boston 112 – New York 102

  • The Celtics’ offense, minus their typical starters, exploded against the Knicks. They shot 56.5% from the field, and made 8 of their 17 three-pointers.
  • Avery Bradley scored 20 points in 27 minutes, on a 62.5 TS%. Bradley was 6 of 7 on shots at the rim.
  • The Knicks were 23 of 33 on shots at the rim, but just 10 of 38 on shots from beyond 15ft.

Chicago 97 – New Jersey 92

  • Joakim Noah had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. 7 of his 10 rebounds came at the offensive end.
  • With a FTR of 0.342, the Chicago Bulls gave themselves an 8 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • Jordan Farmar scored 21 points on a 59.5 TS%. He also added 12 assists, 5 of which went for layups or three pointers.

Cleveland 100 – Washington 93

  • With a FTR of 0.349, the Cavs gave themselves a 14 point advantage at the free throw line. Ramon Sessions made 11 of 12.
  • Jordan Crawford finished his rookie season shooting 2 of 14. He missed all 11 of his shots that didn’t come at the rim.
  • J.J. Hickson had 13 rebounds, 6 of which came at the offensive end.

Dallas 121 – New Orleans 89

  • With a FTR of 0.466, the Mavericks gave themselves a 13 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • In just 20 minutes, J.J. Barea scored 14 points on a 77.1 TS%, with 8 assists. Barea was 7 of 7 at the free throw line, and 4 of his 8 assists went for layups or three-pointers.
  • Just 23 of the Hornets’ 79 field goal attempts came from inside of 10ft.

Golden State 110 – Portland 86

  • The two teams combined to make 21 of 49 three-pointers. Reggie Williams, Patrick Mills and Wesley Matthews each made 4.
  • Reggie Williams scored 28 points for the Warriors on a 77.8 TS%. 11 of his 12 made baskets were assisted on.
  • The Warriors made 26 of 37 shots at the rim, on their way to a 51.2% shooting performance on the night.

L.A. Clippers 110 – Memphis 103

  • Blake Griffin finished his rookie season with a triple-double. Griffin had 31 points on a 64.4 TS%, with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
  • The Clippers made 26 of 29 shots at the rim. 47 of their 81 shot attempts came within 10ft. of the basket.
  • The Grizzlies turned the ball over on 20.8% of their possessions. O.J. Mayo had 5 in just 30 minutes.

Houston 121 – Minnesota 102

  • Chase Budinger exploded for 35 points on a 72.7 TS%. He made all 7 of his free throws, 4 of 8 three pointers, will contributing 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
  • Goran Dragic totalled a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He put it together in exactly 44 minutes.
  • Anthony Randolph continued his string of strong performances to finish the season. Randolph had 23 points on a 65.9 TS%. He made 8 of his 9 shots at the rim.

Orlando 92 – Indiana 74

  • The Magic turned the ball over on 27.5% of their possessions . . . . and still beat the Pacers by 18. Earl Clark had 6 turnovers in 17 minutes.
  • The Pacers shot 30.7% for the game, making just 5 of 14 shots at the rim.
  • Brandon Rush scored 16 points for the Pacers, on 16 shots. He was 5 of 9 on three-pointers, 0 of 7 on two-pointers.

Detroit 104 – Philadelphia 100

  • With a FTR of 0.408, the Pistons gave themselves a 10 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • Rodney Stuckey finished the season with a strong performance. Stuckey scored 29 points on a 73.1 TS%. He made 10 of 11 free throws, and added 8 assists.
  • The 76ers made 21 of 25 shots at the rim and inexplicably missed all 10 of their shots in the 3-9ft. area.

Phoenix 106 – San Antonio 103

  • Marcin Gortat scored 21 points for the Suns, on a 60.6 TS%. Gortat also had 13 rebounds, 4 of which came at the offensive end.
  • The two teams combined for just 14 turnovers on 190 possessions. That’s a TOV% of 7.4%.
  • Steve Nash had 10 assists for the Suns, 7 of which went for layups or three-pointers.

L.A. Lakers 116 – Sacramento 108 (OT)

  • Kobe Bryant scored 36 points in 38 minutes. He did it on a 63.4 TS%, adding 9 rebounds and 6 assists.
  • Samuel Dalembert had 18 points and 18 rebounds for the Kings. 9 of his 18 rebounds came at the offensive end.
  • The Kings were 11 of 19 at the free throw line, giving the Lakers a 9 point advantage.

Milwaukee 110 – Oklahoma City 106

  • The Thunder, giving limited minutes to their normal rotation players, turned the ball over on 22.9% of their possessions.
  • The Bucks used 11 different players in the game, 7 of which scored in double-figures.
  • Michael Redd played 29 minutes for the Bucks, the most he’s played since January 8th, 2010. Redd scored 11 points on 5 of 10 from the field, knocking down 1 of his 3 three-pointers.

Utah 107 – Denver 103

  • Gordon Hayward had a career night for the Jazz. Hayward scored 34 points on an 88.5 TS%. He was 5 of 5 at the free throw line and made 5 of 6 three-pointers.
  • Both teams turned the ball over on exactly 16.8% of their possessions. They also posted identical FTRs, 0.338, and both made 39 of 77 from the field. The different was Utah’s 8 of 15 shooting on three pointers.

Miami 97 – Toronto 79

  • Toronto posted a FTR 0.531, but made only 22 of 34 at the line.
  • The Heat made 13 of 26 three-pointers. Eddie House and James Jones combined to make 11 of 19.
  • The Raptors shot 43.8% for the game. They were just 12 of 40 on shots that didn’t come at the rim.

Charlotte 96 – Atlanta 85

  • Charlotte turned the ball over on just 10% of their possessions, compared to 15.6% for the Hawks.
  • The Bobcats made 18 of 34 long two-pointers, an absurd 53.0%.

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Last Night’s Numbers – 4/12/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a (mostly) daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Miami 98 – Atlanta 90

  • The Hawks missed 9 free throws in the game, finishing at 12 of 21. Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia combined to go 3 of 9.
  • Miami turned the ball over on 21.3% of their possessions. LeBron James was responsible for 7 of their 19 total turnovers.
  • LeBron scored 34 points on a 62.5 TS%. He also had 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.

Utah 90 – New Orleans 78

  • The Jazz shot 55.3% for the game. They made 18 of their 24 shots inside of 10ft.
  • The Hornets shot 37.9% for the game and made just 12 of 32 shots from inside of 10ft.
  • The Jazz recorded 25 assists on 37 made baskets for an Ast% of 67.6%.

Denver 134 – Golden State 111

  • The Nuggets turned the ball over on just 7.7% of their possessions.
  • The Warriors hit 13 of their 25 three-point attempts in the game. Four different players made at least 3 three pointers.
  • Chris Anderson has 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in just 22 minutes for the Nuggets. He also added 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting.

Cleveland 110 – Detroit 101

  • Cleveland turned the ball over on 6.5% of their possessions, compared to 17.2% for the Pistons.
  • Rodney Stuckey scored 29 points on a 73.5 TS%. He also added 14 assists, 10 of which went for layups or three-pointers.
  • The Cavaliers made 26 of 37 of the shots at the rim. J.J. Hickson led the way, making 7 of 11.

Dallas 98 – Houston 91 (OT)

  • Houston used just seven players in the game. None played fewer than 30 minutes.
  • Kevin Martin led the Rockets with 28 points. His TS% was just 52.6% and he turned the ball over 7 times.
  • The Rockets shot 19 of 70, or 27.1%, on all of their shots which didn’t come at the rim.

Milwaukee 93 – Toronto 86

  • The Raptors turned the ball over on 21.1% of their possessions. Jerryd Bayless led the team with 6.
  • Joey Dorsey had 20 rebounds in 33 minutes for the Raptors. 10 of his 20 rebounds came at the offensive end.
  • John Salmons scored 24 points for the Bucks on a 70.3 TS%. He also had 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal.

Charlotte 105 – New Jersey 103

  • The Bobcats shot 57% for the game, making 17 of their 22 shots at the rim. They also knocked down 14 of 25 long two-pointers.
  • Brook Lopez scored 31 points for the Nets on a 58.4 TS%. As usual he had just 3 rebounds.
  • D.J. Augustin had 11 assists. 8 of those 11 assists went for layups or three-pointers.

Orlando 95 – Philadelphia 85

  • Ryan Anderson had 18 points and 14 rebounds in just 22 minutes. Anderson made 3 of 5 three-pointers.
  • The Magic dominated the glass, grabbing 64.4% of the available rebounds, with an ORR of 45.2%. Ryan Anderson had 7 of their 19 offensive rebounds.
  • The 76ers made just 14 of their 47 shot attempts from beyond 15ft.

Phoenix 135 – Minnesota 127

  • Channing Frye scored 33 points for the Suns on a 91.7 TS%. He was 9 of 14 on three-pointers and all 12 of his made field goals were assisted on.
  • As a team, the Suns made 18 of 29 three-pointers. Channing Frye was responsible for a huge portion of that, but Jared Dudley helped out, making 5 of 5.
  • Luke Ridnour scored 21 points for the Timberwolves on an 80.8 TS%. He also added 9 rebounds, 9 assists and 5 turnovers.

Oklahoma City 120 – Sacramento 112

  • There were some absurd free throw totals in this game. Kevin Durant made 15 of 17. DeMarcus Cousins made 18 of 21. The two teams combined to make 70 of 79.
  • The Thunder turned the ball over on 19.0% of their possessions. Russell Westbrook and Durant combined for 12 of those turnovers.
  • The Thunder made 18 of 23 shots at the rim. The Kings made just 9 of 21.

Washington 95 – Boston 94

  • John Wall scored 24 points in 46 minutes. He was 5 of 17 from the field, but 14 of 15 at the free throw line.
  • Both teams had more turnovers than assists. The Celtics had 21 turnovers to 20 assists. The Wizards had 18 turnovers to 14 assists.
  • The Celtics made just 9 of 35 shots from beyond 15ft.

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Last Night’s Numbers – 4/7/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Indiana 136 – Washington 112

  • The Pacers exploded offensively, shooting 59.6% for the game with an Ast% of 64.0%.
  • The Pacers made 13 of 24 three-pointers. Rookie Paul George led the way, knocking down 5 of 6.
  • The Wizards had 7 shots blocked by the Pacers and made just 15 of their 31 shots at the rim.

New York 97 – Philadelphia 92

  • Both teams turned the ball over just 9 times, 9.9% of their total possessions.
  • Both teams shot an identical 41.4% from the field. Both team scored exactly 14 points at the free throw line.
  • The Knicks made 11 of 31 three-pointers. The 76ers made just 2 of 18.

Cleveland 104 – Toronto 96

  • The Raptors and Cavs combined for 71 free throw attempts. They missed a whopping 23 of those.
  • Jerryd Bayless scored 28 points in just 30 minutes. He posted a 65.1 TS% and went 6 of 8 on shots at the rim.
  • Baron Davis had 12 assists for the Cavs, 9 of which went for layups or three-pointers.

Orlando 111 – Charlotte 102 (OT)

  • Gilbert Arenas scored 25 points on an 84.0 TS% for the Magic. Arenas knocked down 6 of 11 three-pointers.
  • The Bobcats shot 14 of 24 on shots at the rim. 6 blocks by Dwight Howard helped set the tone.
  • Dante Cunningham had a double-double for the Bobcats with 16 points and 10 rebounds. However, he shot just 7 of 20 for the game, including a 4 of 12 performance on long two-pointers.

Detroit 116 – New Jersey 109

  • The Pistons thoroughly controlled the glass, grabbing 58.3% of the available rebounds, with an ORR of 36.4%.
  • Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey combined for 19 assists. 11 of their 19 assists went for layups or three-pointers.
  • Brook Lopez scored 39 points on a 74.5 TS% in the losing effort. Lopez was 8 of 11 on shots at the rim and only attempted 3 long two-pointers.

New Orleans 101 – Houston 93

  • With a FTR of 0.327, the Hornets gave themselves a 10 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • The Rockets turned the ball over on 19.8% of their possessions. Seven different Rockets turned the ball over at least twice.
  • Chris Paul had 9 assists, 8 of which went for layups or three-pointers.

Milwaukee 90 – Miami 85

  • The Heat turned the ball over on 18.4% of their possessions. LeBron James and Mike Bibby combined for 10 turnovers in the game.
  • With every point being crucial, the Bucks made all 15 of their free throws.
  • The Heat shot just 10 of 24 at the rim. LeBron James was 3 of 9 and Mario Chalmers missed all 3 of his layup attempts.

Phoenix 108 – Minnesota 98

  • The Suns were 22 of 28 on shots at the rim, on their way to 52.4% shooting performance on the night.
  • Michael Beasley scored 24 points with 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals. He also turned the ball over 5 times and shot 2 of 9 from outside of 10ft.
  • Marcin Gortat scored 20 points for the Suns on a 60.1 TS%. He also grabbed 16 rebounds in just 32 minutes.

Oklahoma City 112 – L.A. Clippers 108

  • The Blake Griffin of mid-December showed up last night, scoring 35 points for the Clippers on a 74.4 TS%. Griffin also added 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
  • Kendrick Perkins had 17 rebounds, an astonishing 10 at the offensive end. He personally grabbed 29.1% of his team’s misses while on the floor.
  • The Thunder actually shot much worse than the Clippers, at 43.2%. However their ORR of 38.0% and low Turnover Rate of 12.2% gave them 12 extra shot attempts in the game.

Denver 104 – Dallas 96

  • J.R. Smith scored 23 points for the Nuggets in just 28 minutes, on a 77.3 TS%. He was 3 of 3 at the rim and made 3 of 5 three-pointers.
  • Denver only turned the ball over on 15.1% of their possessions, compared to 18.3% for Dallas.
  • Brendan Haywood attempted just one shot for the Mavericks in 32 minutes, but came up with 19 big rebounds, 8 at the offensive end.

San Antonio 124 – Sacramento 92

  • The Spurs shot 60.6% from the field AND 63.2% on three-pointers. George Hill and Manu Ginobili combined to make 7 of their 11 three-point attempts.
  • With a FTR of 0.329, the Spurs finished with a 9 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • The Spurs grabbed 55.8% of the game’s total rebounds. Four different Spurs had at least 6.

Golden State 95 – L.A. Lakers 87

  • Golden State won the rebounding battle, grabbing 51.5% with an ORR of 34.0%. David Lee had 17 rebounds, with 8 coming at the offensive end.
  • The Warriors forced the Lakers into turnovers on 18.1% of their possessions. Lamar Odom turned it over 6 times in 32 minutes.
  • The Lakers posted a FTR of 0.351, but missed 11 free throws. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for 8 of those 11 misses.

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Last Night’s Numbers – 3/29/11

This is Last Night’s Numbers, a daily feature where we run through the NBA games from the night before, highlighting one or two numbers I found particularly interesting from each game. All the stats are from Hoopdata’s box scores, which contain some additional advanced stats not available in traditional box scores.

Philadelphia 97 – Chicago 85

  • Thaddeus Young scored 21 points off the bench for the 76ers in just 26 minutes. Young was 8 of 9 on shots at the rim and finished the game with a 62.2 TS%.
  • Derrick Rose scored 31 points for the Bulls but it took him 24 shots to do it. Rose also turned the ball over 10 times and garnered just 5 assists.
  • The 76ers held the Bulls to 41.3% shooting in the game and forced them into a 9 of 30 performance from beyond 15ft.

Indiana 107 – Boston 100

  • Indiana shot 54.6% for the game and grabbed 23.5% of their own misses. They held Boston to an ORR of just 9.7%
  • Roy Hibbert scored 26 points for the Pacers on a 72.7 TS%. Hibbert was 8 of 10 from inside of 10 ft. and a very impressive 4 of 7 from outside of 10ft.
  • The Pacers were 16 of 20 on shots at the rim, with only 5 of those made baskets assisted on.

New York 113 – Orlando 106

  • The Knicks created some defensive pressure, forcing the Magic to turn the ball over on 20.2% of their possessions.
  • Amare Stoudemire attempted just 10 shots in 44 minutes. He let Melo do most of the heavy lifting on offense. Melo scored 39 points and attempted a combined 43 field goals and free throws.
  • The Knicks and Magic combined to make 23 of 67 three-pointers. Eight different players in the game made at least 2 three-pointers.

Portland 100 – San Antonio 92

  • San Antonio shot just 10 of 20 at the free throw line. Between that, and allowing Portland a FTR of 0.477, the Trail Blazers finished with a 14 point advantage at the free throw line.
  • Portland made 8 of 17 three pointers, with three different players making at least 2.
  • The Trail Blazers had their jumpshots working, scoring 100 points despite making just 9 of 12 shots at the rim.

Washington 100 – Utah 95

  • Jordan Crawford scored 25 big points for the Wizards, but on 25 shots. Crawford had a TS% of 44.5% for the game and went just 1 of 10 on three pointers.
  • Rookie Gordon Hayward had one of his best games as a pro for the Jazz. Hayward finished with 12 points on 6 of 12 shooting, with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, a charge drawn and just a single turnover in 37 minutes.
  • The Jazz were just 10 of 21 at the free throw line. Those 11 missed free throws were their margin of defeat and then some.

Charlotte 87 – Milwaukee 86

  • Milwaukee had an ORR of 34.0% and turned the ball over on just 9.3% of their possessions. They scored just 86 points because they made just 38.9% of their shots from the field.
  • Brandon Jennings scored 26 points on a 45.2 TS%. He was 5 of 8 at the rim and 5 of 19 from everywhere else.
  • The Bobcats recorded an assist on 75.8% of their baskets, totalling 25 for the game. Boris Diaw and D.J. Augustin each had 8.

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Ruptured Expectations

 

Balloon POP

Macro

As of Monday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks had won five of their last ten, and sat just two games behind Indiana for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. I think it’s safe to say this is not the position Bucks’ fans expected to find their team in with two and a half weeks left in the regular season. Just twelve months ago the Bucks were wrapping up a cinderella campaign in which they posted the league’s second most efficient defense, finished ten games over 0.500, captured the 6th seed in the East, and took the Atlanta Hawks to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

With the Bucks’ returning six of their top ten players and adding a mix of veterans and youth to their roster, expectations were high. Even if the Bucks’ somehow manage to sneak into the playoffs, this season will be a disappointment. Their defense has actually improved but the team has struggled due to an absolute offensive implosion. To say they have regressed on offense is an understatement. In 2009-2010 the Bucks scored a modest 104.9 points per 100 possessions.  The Bucks Offensive Rating has dropped 3.6 points since last season to a 101.3. The last time the Bucks posted a team Offensive Rating this low was the 1976-1977 season. The only reason they’ve been able to win 29 games is that their Defensive Rating is 102.6, 4th lowest in the league this season, and the franshise’s lowest since the 1983-1984 season.

Their offensive decline has been a battle waged on several fronts. The table below shows their performance in each of the Four Factors this season compared to last season.

From this graph we can see the Bucks are shooting a lower percentage this season, turning the ball over more often, and rebounding a lower percentage of their misses. They’ve improved their ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attempts. However, that improvement has taken them from dead last in the league to 22nd this year. That’s not nearly enough to offset their decline in those other areas. The biggest drop-off has been in their shooting percentage and that’s where I want to focus.

The Bucks are playing at a slightly slower pace this season, 89.8 possessions per game, compared to 91.7 last season. This slower pace, combined with their increase in free throw attempts and turnovers, means they are taking far fewer shots per game. This season the Bucks are averaging 79.7 field goal attempts per game, compared to 85.3 last season.

Over the past two seasons in the NBA, a field goal attempt has been worth an average of 0.99 points (Total Points – Free Throws Made/Field Goal Attempts). If we assume the Bucks were shooting the league average, those 5.6 fewer field goal attempts they are taking this season, would cost them about 5.5 points per game. Factoring in the additional 2.8 free throw attempts they are taking, and assuming they make them at the average rate of 75.9%, would knock 2.1 points off that decline. So ignoring shot selection and shooting percentage, we would expect to see the Bucks per game scoring drop by 3.4 points. That hasn’t happened. Their per game scoring average has gone from 97.7 last season to 91.5, a drop of 6.2 points. The reason the drop is so much larger than expected, is of course the two components we didn’t discuss yet: shot selection and shooting percentage.

To examine these two pieces we’re going to turn to Expected Scoring. If you’ve missed my other posts on the subject, Expected Points uses a team or player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a team or player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This point differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals.  The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.

Let’s start with shot selection. The table below shows the percentage of the Bucks’ shot attempts which have come from each area of the floor this season and last season.

The two most efficient areas of the floor to shoot from are at the rim and three-pointers. The percentage of the Bucks’ shot attempts which have come from both of those areas has shrunk. Last season 45.2% of their shot attempts came from that 3-23ft., area between the rim and the three-point line. This season 51% of their shots are coming from that area. This change shows up heavily in their Expected Scoring numbers.

The table below shows the Bucks’ Expected Points, Actual Points, Point Differential and FG% for each area of the floor from this season and last.  All numbers are per game.

Except for a slight improvement at the rim and on shots from 10-15ft., the Bucks’ Point Differential has decreased from every area of the floor. Even free throws have been unkind, as they’re attempting more but making a lower percentage. Altogether they’re averaging 4.19 fewer point per game than we would expect if they were shooting the league average.

Poor shot selection has been a problem, but the Bucks also struggle to make shots from efficient locations. Their three-point shooting has regressed significantly since last year. Their shooting percentage at the rim has increased slightly, but hasn’t left the atrocious range. How bad has it been? Their field goal percentage on shots at the rim is 6.5 percentage points below the league average. Only two other teams are shooting below 60% at the rim this season and the Bucks are still 1.7 percentage points lower than either of them. This is also the 4th consecutive season they have shot less than 58% at the rim. We aren’t looking at a new phenomenon.

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Any mention of the Bucks’ struggles on offense has to include a mention of second-year point guard, Brandon Jennings. To place blame in its entirety at Jennings’ feet would be irresponsible, but he deserves a healthy share. Particularly when it comes questions of shooting.

As a rookie last season Jennings shot just 37.1% from the field. That’s the 4th lowest FG% in the history of the NBA, by a rookie who started at least half their team’s games. The good news for Jennings is that several players on that list, such as Chris Duhon, Jason Williams, Kirk Hinrich, Raymond Felton and Nick Van Exel, shot under 40% as rookies but have gone on to careers as solid NBA contributors. Some like Jason Kidd, Russell Westbrook and Chauncey Billups have even gone on to be stars. It should also give Bucks’ fans hope that making a large improvement in FG%, going from a rookie season to a sophmore season, doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for future success either.

One factor not in his favor, is that each of those players who went on to successful careers, after a poor shooting start, had some other intensely valuable skill which offset their lack of scoring efficiency. Kidd, Westbrook and Billups all had terrific size and strength for their positions. Kidd, Tinsley and Williams were tremendous passers. Jackson, Johnson, Hinrich, Kidd and Felton all contributed heavily at the defensive end. Although Jennings is a solid distributor and defender, I don’t know that he’s shown enough potential in either area to guarantee himself a long-term future as a sepecialist. If he can’t improve his shooting, and not just a little, it’s not difficult to imagine him taking the career path of Chris Duhon or T.J. Ford, an idea that would have been considered outrageous just a few months ago.

Jennings has made some improvements shooting the ball this season, especially in his shot selection. The graph below shows the percentage of his shots which have come from each area of the floor this season and last season.

He’s taking more shots from inside of 10ft. and has cut down significantly on his mid and long-range two-pointers. These are both great signs of him recognizing his strengths and being willing to focus his efforts there. The only problem is that he isn’t particularly effective at the rim, or on three-pointers for that matter.

Among players with at least 100 attempts, he ranks dead last in FG% at the rim, shooting 50.3%. We can feel quite certain that his struggles are not a fluke as he shot 42.7% at the rim last season. Although he’s increased his FG% at the rim by 7.6 percentage points he still shoots 13.8 percentage points below the league average of 64.1%. To add insult to injury, the Bucks’ Chris Douglas-Roberts, Carlos Delfino, John Salmons and Earl Boykins all shoot 10 percentage points or more below the league average at the rim. Altogether, 34.8% of all the Bucks’ field goal attempts at the rim, have come from these five players, who are all among the leagues 40 worst shooters from that area.

Among players with at least 200 attempts, Jennings has the 4th worst 3PT% in the league, at 32.8%. The Bucks have five different players with at least 100 three-point attempts this season. Three of them, Jennings, Ilyasova and Dooling, shoot below the league average of 35.9%.

The Bucks have four major rotation players, Jennings, Dooling, Salmons and Delfino, who shoot 40% or lower from the field. I’m including Delfino even thought he’s currently at 40.1%. Jennings has missed some significant time this season due to injury, but as the team’s starting point guard when healthy, he deserves some responsibility for the offense not running smoothly and for not finding easy shots for his teammates.

Among the 47 point guards who average at least 20 minutes per game, Jennings ranks 41st in Assist Rate, the rate of assists against possessions used. The players clustered closest to him on this list are guys like Aaron Brooks, Gilbert Arenas, Daniel Gibson, and Tyreke Evans, all players who are more scorers than creators. It’s difficult to know exactly how much responsibility he bears for the horrible shooting of his teammates, but I think we can agree that the answer floats somewhere in between “A whole lot” and “Some.” I think we can also agree he’s not doing much to improve his teammates’ percentages.

As a team the Bucks’ have the 4th worst Assist Rate in the league this season. This is a chicken-egg situation. Is their Assist Rate low because they don’t make shots? Or is their Assist Rate low because they don’t move the ball effectively, leading to bad shots? Again, the answer is somewhere in between. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jennings and the Bucks share some of the same offensive weaknesses, shooting and efficient ball movement. Jennings has the 2nd highest Usage Rate on the team, but plays significantly more minutes than Corey Maggette, who ranks first. As the player who has used the most possessions for the Bucks this season, this team’s offense is in large part an expression of his talents and abilities.

Part of the excitement surrounding the Bucks entering this season, was the feeling that they had many of the pieces in place for long-term success. They had a tough, mobile big man to control the paint. They had versatile shooters. They had strong rebounders. They had a lock-down wing defender. Finally, they had a potent, developing offensive weapon, in Jennings, to continue to build around. Many of the holes we’re seeing now in Jennings’ game were well identified before he was drafted. His 55 point explosion against Golden State in the second week of his rookie season may have obscured his true potential. The clouds are slowly lifting in Milwaukee. The Bucks may need to ask themselves if Brandon Jennings is the player the scouted in high school and Italy, or the player who rained down jumpers on the heads of the hapless Warriors. Either answer, even a combination of the two has huge ramifications for the future of the team.

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Filed under Milwaukee Bucks, NBA, Statistical Analysis