Sunday brings the first afternoon game in the 17/18 schedule, as the struggling Atlanta Hawks host a Milwaukee team looking to get back on track after a disappointing performance in the historic return to the Mecca Thursday night.
The Bucks again lost the rebounding battle, fast becoming an ugly trend, in which opposition are out-rebounding Milwaukee by an average of 10.4 per game, thus far.
The lowly Hawks seem like the ideal opponent to have a bounce back performance but, to do so they will need to reverse two recent trends. Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder torched the Bucks last year in four contests to the tune of 19.8 points, 6.3 assists, knocking down a staggering 60% of three point attempts as they rolled passed Milwaukee in 3 of the 4 games on the year.
Perhaps even more alarming is the Bucks matinee game win-loss record, which sits at 1-7 over the course of the past two seasons. One of the losses was a fixture at Phillips Arena on January 15, this year, in which the Bucks went down by 13. After a sluggish start on Thursday night, a fast start in this contest will be of vital importance.
An under-the-radar, pleasing performer in the early going has been the newly re-signed wing, Tony Snell. Just over a year ago (Oct 17 2016) Snell was involved in a trade that drew some snickers amongst online hoops fans, as he was sent our way, while the much maligned (and not unfairly so) Michael Carter-Williams went to the rival Chicago Bulls. In Chicago, Snell had gradually seen his games played go down as he filled a bit-part bench, spot starter role, only seeing the floor in 64 games during the 15/16 season. Despite this, Milwaukee was ready to move on from the MCW experiment, and Snell perfectly fit the bill in our “all-length” roster, standing 6″7′, with a 7″0′ wingspan.
After a pleasantly surprising first season in Milwaukee in which he started in all 80 games played, shooting 41% from three, Snell figured to be one of the more interesting decisions for the off-season as an RFA, on a team filled with poor contracts. Once again, Milwaukee decided to not wait for the market (don’t get me started on this), signing Tony to a 4-year, 44 million dollar guaranteed deal (player option fourth year): a decision that sparked strong debate amongst the online Bucks fans community.
I liked the deal. I still believe he perfectly fits the bill as a starter on a team looking to build into contention in the East. He doesn’t demand the ball (12.2USG% last season), he picks his spots on offense, he takes high percentage shots, and he provides disruptive defense. Often, he gets the job defending the opposition’s star wing player, reliving pressure on fellow wing man Khris Middleton.
Through five games this season, Snell’s shot has held true to form, shooting 50% from three on four attempts per game. But its the remarkable 71% on two point attempts that Snell has connected on that really stands out. He gives the appearance of a player with new-found confidence, he knows that he belongs, and on occasion he even flashes some impressive athleticism: a dazzling crossover to baseline fadeaway jump-shot, touching nothing but net against Portland, showing that there may be more to be revealed in time.
I’m a big believer in trying to separate the individual deals from the total picture with the Bucks, a belief that hasn’t exactly been received too well at times in discussion with fellow fans. On its own, 11 million per year for a solid 3 and D starter is in modern times a good deal. Unfortunately, with Henson, Teletovic and Dellavedova’s similar deals already on the books, it can appear as simply another overpay for a minimal role player. I urge Bucks fans to look beyond the box score with Snell and appreciate the development we’ve seen in a guy who is really only 12 months into his first consistent and significant chance.
You know what you’re going to get from Tony, win or lose, and thats 10-12 points plus, above-average to elite shooting, and solid defense. That’s value for money in today’s NBA, so when you want to unleash some anger about our cap situation, direct it elsewhere, because Snell’s deal is going to prove to be a good one.
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