Advanced Scouting: Milwaukee Bucks at San Antonio Spurs


Bucks at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST December 15, 2010

SRS ranks:

Milwaukee: -0.36 (18th)
San Antonio: 9.03 (3rd)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective December 6, 2010) and (effective December 12, 2010):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PER2 Year Net PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-
Mbah a Moute0.54-1.4-3.1-1.1-2.2-4.24

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Jennings, Salmons, Mbah a Moute, Gooden, Bogut -9 in 132 minutes
Jennings, Delfino, Salmons, Gooden, Bogut +7 in 89 minutes
Jennings, Salmons, Ilyasova, Mbah a Moute, Bogut +20 in 41 minutes

Last year the Jennings, Delfino, Salmons, Mbah a Moute, Bogut lineup outscored opponents by 60 points in 258 minutes.

Preferred method to create shots: Pick and Roll with Brandon Jennings

The Bucks have the worst offensive rating in the NBA, scoring only 100 points per 100 possessions. The fact that Michael Redd and Carlos Delphino are both out indefinitely does not improve their offensive situation.

Corey Maggette, one of the Bucks primary offseason acquisitions, can get to the line as well as any perimeter player in the league. However, Maggette has yet to fully assimilate into the Bucks offense.

Although he’s played better lately, Andrew Bogut has struggled since returning from injury. Salmons has also experienced relative success on isolation plays, but the primary source of offense for the Bucks has been Jennings on the pick and roll.

Appropriate Spurs counter: Fight over the screen

Jennings flashes immense offensive potential, but has yet to become an efficient scoring option similar to most superstar scorers.

The most glaring thing that jumps out at you when watching Jennings is his speed and athleticism. Despite this explosiveness, he has not been able to finish inside anywhere close to the frequency of players with similar stature and quickness (Iverson and Parker come to mind). Jennings has raised his close field goal conversion rate from 42% to 53% this year. However, overall, he has not finished efficiently enough from close range; and he doesn’t get to the line often enough to make up for this low inside efficiency.

One of the more surprising positive attributes for Jennings since entering the NBA last year has been his ability to score from beyond the arc. This is unexpected because his EUROleague three point percentage was below 25%. Although Jenning’s three point rate is inflated based on his incredibly hot start from long range last year; he has also been respectable shooting behind the line this year.

When running the pick and roll, Jennings loves to pull up and take advantage of his improved three-point shooting. I suspected this after watching a handful of plays, but was surprised by the numbers provided by Synergy’s data.

On pick and roll possessions when the defender goes under the screener, the ball handler typically scores an average of 0.90 points per possession (PPP). When the defender goes is able to fight over the screen, this rate becomes 0.87 PPP. Brandon Jennings averages 0.98 PPP when defenders go under the screen, but 0.73 when the defender is able to get over the screener.

George Hill went under 40% of screens for the past year and a quarter. He caught on 36% of applicable pick and roll possessions. Tony Parker fared better by beating the screener 47% of the time while running into the pick only 32% of the time. Of course, George Hill had enjoyed greater overall success defending the pick and roll over the last few years. Perhaps Hill simply knows when to be aggressive and when to lay back with consideration to defensive help or opponent offensive skillset.

Gary Neal has impressed some with his effort in fighting over screens. There isn’t enough statistical evidence to back this, but this might be a good game to give him a chance to prove his value.

Here is a link detailing how the Spurs defended Jennings last season.

Defensive Weakness: Post up Ilyasova and target Maggette on pick and roll plays

Although the Bucks struggle on the offensive end, they excel defensively. Last season, they barely ranked behind the Charlotte Bobcats at the most efficient defensive team. This season, they rank 5th in defensive rating, according to, and figure to improve once Bogut comes into full form. The Bucks contest an outstanding 70% of “Catch and Shoot” attempts (no other team exceeds 62%.)

One player who has consistently struggled defending the pick and roll is Corey Maggette. However, Maggette has only had the benefit of playing with the Bucks this season so it is possible he will improve. In the mean time, he is worth testing.

In fact, the Bucks entire team has struggled guarding the pick and roll. Last year Jennings ranked in the 61st percentile defending the pick and roll, but this year he has plummeted to the 23rd percentile in 108 such possessions defended. Ersan Ilyasova has also struggled to defend the pick and roll this year and last.

Ersan Ilyasova ranked in the bottom 20th percentile defending the post last season. This year, he’s been the most targeted Bucks player on post possessions and hasn’t fared much better. Blair, Duncan and Splitter are all viable options against Ilyasova.


Milwaukee has played well as of late, giving the Spurs a little help with their win over the Mavs on Monday night. San Antonio, on the other hand, appears to have convincingly established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite. The occasional unexpected blip is bound to happen from time to time, but the Spurs are considerable favorites once again.

  • Jacques

    I watched the Bucks v. Mavs game on Monday, and Jennings was pretty efficient. Hope the momentum stops here. At least Parker and Hill can defend better against them. Go Spurs!

  • SAJKinBigD

    Looking forward to seeing the Silver and Black back on the hardwood! I’ll be in SA this Sunday and again next weekend – mebbe I’ll try and get to the Bulle— erm, Wizards game!

  • DieHardSpur

    Damnit Sereday – i have been waiting to read this all day… slow at work.

    These wrie-ups have provided great insight to how I view the game…

  • Flavor

    Yea, I love these write ups… When I watch the game, I look for a lot of the things covered in it… Good post as always Mr. Sereday.

  • jwalt

    Notice the huge negative Drue Gooden numbers? God am I glad the Spurs didn’t bring him back. I truly respect Skiles as a coach but he has over loaded himself with both Maggette and Gooden, two of the bigger dopes currently playing. I think they are the biggest reason why the Bucks aren’t as good as last year. But I’ve noticed they are playing less and less, already Skiles understands that both are just good enough to get you beat.

  • rob

    Spurs by 12

    Spurs 114 / Bucks 92

  • rob

    Spurs 104/ Bucks 92

  • Greyberger

    Bogut will play despite migraines, and Salmons will miss the game with back spasms.



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