The Milwaukee Bucks have one of the longest lineups in the NBA and with their acquisition of Eric Bledsoe, they just got longer. For the past two seasons under Jason Kidd, the Bucks have used their length to unleash an ultra-aggressive Pick-and-Roll trapping scheme. Bledsoe is the perfect guard to head this scheme, after being stuck in basketball purgatory the past few seasons. With the added length, it might be time for the rest of the NBA to Fear the Deer!
The Bucks defensive philosophy has been to cause chaos, case in point is the havoc they applied to the Toronto Raptors in the playoff. The design is to force offenses to throw difficult passes that will allow the defense to recover behind it. In a piece by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz (Playing the Longer Game) Kidd outlined their “no fastballs” rule. The idea is that the defense can recover if the Bucks force them to throw passes that are not on point, but they will be at a disadvantage if the offense is allowed to throw strikes. Their length covers up for a lot of their mistakes.
Below are examples of the passes the Bucks defense wants the offense to make when they are doubling the pick and roll. First Khris Middleton and Matthew Dellavedova were trapping Kyrie Irving who had to float a pass over the top of their long arms to Jaylen Brown, which gave the defense time to react. Giannis Antetokounmpo rotated to Brown and Malcolm Brogdon closed out when the ball was swung to Terry Rozier. The Bucks also forced a turnover when Irving threw a pass to Al Horford over the hands of Middleton and John Henson, but too high for Horford.
The defensive scheme looks great when the offense throws “balls” but the big problem occurs when the offense throws “strikes”. The defense just does not have a ton of time to scramble and recover. The other issue is that it is difficult for teams to plan against in the regular season but something teams will be prepared for come playoff time. These are just a few examples of teams getting dunks off well-thrown passes to the rollers.
Bledsoe is a perfect fit for this scheme; many have forgotten just how athletic he is due to his injuries and since the Suns shut him down so early last season. Early in his career when he was a sixth man for the Los Angeles Clippers, he would just cause total chaos on the defensive end. Using his speed and explosiveness, Bledsoe would come into games in the third and force so many turnovers the Clippers would never need to go back to their starters.
Bledsoe is definitely going to help on the offensive end, adding another threat that will alleviate a lot of the offensive pressure on Giannis but his biggest value will be on the defensive end. With his seven-foot wingspan and explosive athleticism, he is the exact type of player the Bucks like to target according to Arnovitz’s article. Bledsoe will be the tip of the sword in their defensive attack and should help put the fear of the deer back into opposing offenses.
• Oklahoma City’s Struggles – The Thunder have lost four straight and the vultures are circling. The thing that really hurts the Thunder more than any other team was the shortened preseason; Paul George and Russell Westbrook had an entire summer to workout together and develop some chemistry. Carmelo Anthony was acquired right before training camp that threw a wrench into their plans, from the coaching staff developing their plan to having to rework. They are developing on the go, having to figure out the right ratio of shots and when they need to unleash Westbrook. It takes time to work these things out and the Thunder have to do it on the fly which makes it difficult, and in a competitive Western Conference, they’ll need to get their act together quite quickly.
• Knicks are Rising – It has definitely raised a few eyebrows that as soon as Anthony left the Knicks, they are finding success by handing the reigns to Kristaps Porzingis. Check out the most recent Jump Ball podcast where Paul Flannery discusses whether the Knicks can make the playoff or if they even should. The Jump Ball Podcast with Paul Flannery (Ep. 53)
- Playing the Longer Game by Kevin Arnovitz ESPN
- Photo Credit – BENNY SIEU-USA TODAY SPORTS