Seven Truths About the Milwaukee Bucks
Here are what the numbers (as provided by 82games.com) tell us for sure about the Milwaukee Bucks:
1. Mo Williams is the team's MVP and should start ahead of TJ Ford
I wrote in an earlier posting that Mo was the MVP, based only on my intuition. To my surprise, the numbers back me up. According to 82games' "5 man Unit" statistics, no 5 man unit on the Bucks has outscored its opponents over the course of the season unless the unit includes Mo Williams. That's the definition of "most valuable", isn't it? And some of Mo's units are +14 and +24. Here's another stat to back me up: when Mo is on the court the Bucks outscore their opponent (or "win") 55% of the time, the second best winning percentage on the team, and far better than TJ Ford's winning percentage of 43%. Here's the clincher: if you remove TJ Ford from the regular 5 man starting unit (Ford Redd Simmons Bogut Magliore) and replace him with Mo Williams, the unit goes from a score of -1 to a score of +14. If that isn't enough, the most effective 2 man combination on the Bucks is Williams and Michael Redd. They are collectively +77 points for the season. Don't you want to maximize their time together? When Williams comes back, he must start.
2. Charlie Bell is a very effective performer off the bench
A lot of things I learned when I looked at the 82games statistics shocked me. Like how effective a performer reserve G Charlie Bell has been. It blew my mind how good his 82games floor numbers are, because his traditional statistics are mediocre at best (4.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 36% FG). Charlie Bell either proves the value of 82games floor statistics, or exposes them as misleading and useless. I don't know. All I can say for sure is the team is very effective when Charlie Bell is playing. In fact, he has the highest "winning percentage" (% of times the Bucks outscore the opponent while he is on the floor) on the team at 57.1%. And he improves the Bucks on both ends. When he plays, the team shoots better (51.1 eFG% to 47.4%), and the opposition shoots worse (48.7 eFG% to 50.1%). When he plays, the Bucks overall offensive average per 48 minutes (98.7 with him vs. 96.6 total) is better and so is the overall defensive average per 48 minutes (96.4 vs. 98.7). But, get this: when you assess Bell in combination with his fellow Bucks, the only starter he does well with is Bogut, and that's only +1.0. Every other starter, when combined with Charlie Bell, produces a negative output. Astonishing. Clearly, Bell is best when he is paired with his fellow reserves, and the numbers bear that out: Welsch (+15.4), Kukoc (+12.4), Gadzuric (+8.7) and Williams (+ 7.9). What do you make of that?
3. While Mo Williams is out, the Bucks have a HUGE problem at point guard
I knew the Bucks would suffer without Mo Williams, but I did not know the severity of the problem. By the numbers, starting point guard TJ Ford has been merely serviceable, while experimental backup point guard Jermaine Jackson has been downright awful. His 82games numbers are shockingly bad. His on court winning percentage is an anemic 16.7%. When it comes to total points scored versus total points allowed while he is on the floor, he nearly has the largest deficit on the team (-77 points) despite the fact that he has barely played! His incompetence is as wide as it is deep. It covers every area and every player. When he's on the court the offense virtually shuts down (88.2 vs. 96.6), and the defense becomes an absolute sieve (110.2 vs 98.7). He is so bad, there is no other Buck you can combine him with and get a positive overall floor average -- no one. Even Reese Gaines can't claim that. (Gaines has a positive number when you combine him with Redd.) In short, Jermaine Jackson is KILLING the Bucks everytime he steps foot on the court. They need a backup point guard other than him.
4. Old man Kukoc really makes the offense go
The player with the highest on court 48 min offensive average on the team is, amazingly, Toni Kukoc (99.4). Again, I find this a little surprising because Kukoc's traditional offensive statistics have slumped this year. But, they don't call him "The Waiter" for nothing. Though he may not be scoring, he makes his teammates better by serving them. He does well with almost all the regulars, and does exceptional work with G Michael Redd (+7.7). However, his numbers are slipping. In the last two weeks his offensive average has sunk from 101.6 to 99.4.
5. Statistically, Gadzuric sucks on defense
Another surprise: Gadzuric is a big defensive liability, but something of an offensive asset. His defensive average (102.1) is the second worst on the team when you consider only those who have played more than 10% of the time (Jiri's the worst), and it is by far the worst among the regular big men (meaning he, Bogut, and Magliore). On the other hand, his offensive average (97.2) is by far the best among the regular big men, and almost as good as Michael Redd's (97.7). What's strange to me about this is, Gadzuric is the closest thing the Bucks have to a shotblocker on defense, and he always looks somewhat uncomfortable on offense. So I would have expected things to have been reversed, but they are not.
6. Statistically, Bogut is the Bucks best defender
Here's another head scratcher. The player with the best defensive floor average is Andrew Bogut (94.4). I thought defense was his weakness, but apparently not. His defense is so good he never averages above 95.4 no matter what other Buck he is combined with. That's impressive. He must be doing something right. But it seems counterintuitive. To add to the confusion, he's not as good on offense as I had assumed. The offense doesn't run as well when he's out there (94.9 vs 96.6). I have a theory on this one, however. His offense is suffering because he is playing power forward most of the time. Look at his floor average on offense when he plays center and Joe Smith plays power forward (114.5). Huge improvement. Or how about when he plays center and Kukoc plays power forward (99.4). Much better as well. Bottom line: I think he needs to play center, but I've said that all along.
7. Magliore has his groove back
The Buck who has the best total floor average over the last 30 days is none other than C Jamaal Magliore. For most of this season his total floor average has been abysmal, but he has turned that around dramatically in the last month. Now its nearly in the positive after it was as low as -24 around Christmas. How has he turned his season around? Defense, baby. His offense has remained kind of iffy, but he has really tightened the screws on defense. His defensive floor average over the last 30 days is a Detroit Piston-like 90.4 and his winning percentage has been a healthy 56%. Great to see. Now if he could just make a few more of those three foot bunnies...