Inside the Scope: Golden State Warriors (26-16) x Milwaukee Bucks (22-19)
- Tip Of: 5:30 p.m. (PT)
- Television: CSN-BA
Milwaukee Bucks Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 99.8 (tied for 22nd in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 100.5 (7th in NBA)
- Points: Monta Ellis, 18.8 PPG
- Rebounds: Larry Sanders, 8.5 RPG
- Assists: Brandon Jennings, 6.0 APG
- Steals: Brandon Jennings, 2.0 SPG
- Blocks: Larry Sanders, 3.1 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: 58% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Mike Dunleavy, 43.4% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Bucksketball.
Preview: With Golden State playing in Milwaukee tonight, the Warriors’ most recent history needs to get revisited just a little.
I was never in favor of trading Monta Ellis, because I wanted to see how the team would fare with he and Curry in the backcourt with a coaching staff that placed a big emphasis on defense.
Mark Jackson began implementing some defensive principles last season but nothing as effective as what he’s come up with this year. Thus, Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh were shipped out to acquire an injured Andrew Bogut — who is sidelined at present time — to be the franchise center.
The play of Klay Thompson last season obviously made it easier to trade Ellis, given that the team knew it had a shooting guard ready and willing to take up his minutes.
Whilst playing alongside Monta, Curry was often shoved into a corner to wait for his teammate to feed him should defenses rotate off him. However, with Ellis now in Milwaukee, Steph has become the team’s leading scorer and crunch time assassin.
Heck, many believe that Curry’s All-Star snub was an injustice of the highest order given how well he’s played this year.
In hindsight, an argument could be made that the Warriors’ former leading scorer stunted Stephen Curry’s growth as a basketball player to some extent.
But that is now a thing of the past.
At present time, Monta plays in Milwaukee and is part of one of the most intriguing backcourts in the NBA.
When picking my favorite backcourt pairings in the league, here’s the list in no specific order:
- Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin
- Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews
- Chris Paul and his shadow (cheating, I know)
- Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen
- Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili
- Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson
- Jarett Jack and Stephen Curry
- Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings fail to make the cut.
Both are decent playmakers that can occasionally play as hubs in a team’s offensive scheme because they can handle the ball, make decent if not good passes and even occasionally anticipate defenses.
But their conversion rate from the field leaves much to be desired, and that’s putting it lightly.
The comparison isn’t completely on point, but imagine having two Allen Iversons in your backcourt: you might be able to get away with one of them on your team, but two is really pushing it.
Indeed, Jennings and Ellis are both diminutive guards that respectively convert 40.5 and 40.4 percent of their shots while taking the most shots on the team. They are both quite in love with the idea of settling for jumpers from 16-to-23 feet, where they both connect on less than 37 percent of their attempts from that range — the league average is 37.8 percent — because they don’t mind taking a few contested shots.
The irony of course is that the Bucks need them in order to win ball games. They are an inefficient bunch, but Milwaukee is still winning more than they are losing, although head coach Jim Boylan might want to stagger their minutes a bit.
NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that the guard tandem has played 1,213 minutes together so far this season and the second most played two-man unit is Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders — Sanders is a stud folks — with 836 minutes; which is a fairly large gap.
And it’s worth noting that when the starting guards play together, the Milwaukee Bucks convert 43.5 percent of their shots from the field, which is the exact figure that the Bucks have hit so far this season, putting them in the bottom five teams in the league.
By contrast, Curry and Thompson — both have had some occasional shooting struggles this season — are producing more points, generating more assists and converting a higher percentage of their shots when paired together on the court this season in comparison to Jennings and Ellis per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.
The one wildcard though is that the Bucks backcourt is incredibly streaky. If they start making shots, they will take (and make) one tough shot after another and bury opponents.
Hence, the easy way to frame this matchup might be to focus on the fact that Ellis is playing against his former team, but the more interesting narrative in my opinion is the way the guards will fare against each other tonight because it may very well decide the contest.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].