Milwaukee Bucks Have Major Rotation Issue To Figure Out

Milwaukee Bucks, NBA
Dec 7, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; The Milwaukee Bucks huddle before paying against the Indiana Pacers in the NBA In Season Tournament Semifinal at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Up until the last few weeks, the Milwaukee Bucks were cruising along as one of the best teams in the NBA during the 2023-24 season. They were 30-13 before opting to make a massive change, firing head coach Adrian Griffin.

Griffin was in his first season at the helm, but the team felt a change needed to be made. Joe Prunty coached the team for three games before being replaced by Doc Rivers, who was doing some consulting work with the team.

The decision, to this point, has been a disastrous one. Milwaukee is 3-7 with Rivers as head coach and their production has fallen off a cliff. He was brought in to help improve the defense, which he has done. The Bucks are 11th in defensive rating, but everything else has faltered.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, Doc Rivers, Milwaukee Bucks Updates

Milwaukee is struggling on offense under Rivers, as they are 23rd in the NBA in offensive rating. That has led to a net rating that puts them at 19th since Rivers took over.

Rivers has made some adjustments to the team’s rotation, as he is relying on veteran players more than the youngsters on the roster. That doesn’t look like it is going to change after the team acquired Patrick Beverley from the Philadelphia 76ers ahead of the NBA trade deadline and signed Danilo Gallinari from the buyout market.

What Rivers really needs to figure out is how to get the Bucks to remain competitive in minutes Giannis Antetokounmpo is not on the court. As shared by NBA University on X, the Bucks starting five is one of the best lineups in the league.

Damian Lillard, Malik Beasley, Khris Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez have a +16 net rating in 1,137 non-garbage time possessions. That ranks third in the NBA amongst lineups with at least 500 possessions.

However, in the 1,527 with Antetokounmpo off the court, the Bucks have a net rating of -9.0. They are getting crushed whenever he sits, which is one of the biggest issues Rivers needs to figure out in the coming weeks.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, Doc Rivers, Milwaukee Bucks Updates

Struggling when their stars are off the court is something every NBA team has to figure out. Alas, some don’t struggle to the point the Bucks are, but it is just another issue that will have people questioning whether firing Griffin was the right move or not.

Along with the Antetokounmpo being on the bench problem, Rivers has to figure out how to make things work with his backup, Bobby Portis. Milwaukee isn’t very efficient with him on the court, which is complicating matters even more with The Greek Freak on the bench.

The addition of Lillard was supposed to help the Bucks in their non-Giannis minutes. He showed throughout his career with the Portland Trail Blazers he was capable of carrying a team offensively, but that level of production has not followed him from the northwest.

The version of Lillard we saw in the weeks leading into the NBA All-Star Break, coupled with other lineup decisions Rivers has to make, has Milwaukee looking more like pretenders than contenders. There is still some time for things to get on track, but the Bucks, at best, look like the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference.

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