120215-roberto-ruiz-1Bucks Disappointing Thus Far

Greg Monroe and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been as advertised for this young Milwaukee Bucks squad. It is the rest of the roster that has disappointed, from newly resigned Khris Middleton on down. With a record of 7-12, good for worst in the Central Division, the Bucks have hardly looked like the playoff squad of last year. With plenty of time left in the season, let’s look at some of the things the Bucks need to do to turn their season around.

Khris Middleton needs to start playing like the player the Bucks paid him to be during the offseason. Though nobody was hailing it as a particularly shrewd or intelligent signing, the Bucks resigned Middleton with the hope that he would continue to provide the scoring spark and late game toughness that he often showed during the 2014-15 season. Currently he is 3rd on the team with 14.4 points per game and shooting at a 40.6% success rate. These are not exactly the numbers the Bucks were looking for, even though they would gladly accept his points per game average if he was still shooting north of 46% like he was the previous season. Considering he is shooting over 47% from behind the arc, I expect that his percentages will improve over the course of the season and that will certainly help the Bucks put up some more points in the win column.

The point guard situation is in dire straits and there is not much hope for a turnaround in the near future. Michael Carter-Williams and Jerryd Bayless are simply not starting caliber point guards in the NBA. The Bucks traded for Carter-Williams last year hoping that he would realize his potential under the tutelage of head coach Jason Kidd, but that potential is far from realized. Bayless was brought in to be a backup so you can hardly rag on him, but Carter-Williams needs to become a better distributer and protect the ball significantly better than he has at this point. 4.9 assists per game with 3.2 turnovers just doesn’t get it done at this level.

Jabari Parker has not been a disappointment, but his continued development and rehabilitation from a knee injury will play right into the Bucks’ hand. Parker is the dynamic scorer that the Bucks desperately need, and as he trusts his knee more and more we will see fewer glimpses and more sustained greatness from our forward positions. Between Parker, Antetokounmpo, and Monroe, the Bucks should have enough scoring power to hang with most teams.

Jason Kidd has a tough job leading this group of young NBA players and he seems up to the task. Still, it is never fun having to teach players the way of life in the NBA, especially when you have so few veterans to provide leadership. This season is far from a lost cause, but if a turnaround is going to happen it has to happen soon. This team is not built to go on large winning streaks, but instead needs to rely on sustained quality play.