Milwaukee Bucks Need to End the Brandon Jennings-Monta Ellis Experiment
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The Milwaukee Bucks will never win anything of substantial value with the starting backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. That much should be obvious by now. Sure, the Bucks might sneak into the playoffs as an eighth seed with a record hovering around .500, but the team will surely be dispatched in the first round. It is really hard to envision any other end to this season for the franchise.
Operating under the assumption that the aforementioned scenario is exactly how the season will play out for the Bucks, there is a simple conclusion to make. Unless the Bucks do something to break up the backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, or even better, get rid of it altogether, the team will continue to lose just as many games as it wins.
Since Monta Ellis was acquired by the Bucks last season in a trade, Jennings and Ellis have played a total of 2085:42 minutes together, which is the equivalent of about 43.5 complete games. Unfortunately for the Bucks, the duo has failed to lift the team to even middling heights.
Last season in the 602:46 minutes the two played together, they were outscored by 1.9 points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com. This season, Jennings and Ellis have been equally mediocre together as evidenced by the fact they have been outscored by 2.1 points per 100 possessions during their 1482:56 minutes on the court at the same time.
Although Jennings and Ellis are not good together, at least they are consistent in the rate at which opponents outscore them.
Now, it is important to note that the duo of Jennings and Ellis are still better than the average two-man lineup combinations of the Bucks, but being better than getting outscored by 2.4 points per 100 possessions is really nothing to be particularly proud of.
A team should reasonably expect a starting backcourt, and the two players who dominate the greatest percentage of the team's offensive possessions, to be better than Jennings and Ellis have been.
No matter how many more minutes these backcourt mates continue to share on the court together, it is unlikely the two will ever be as efficient as the Bucks need them to be in order to establish a consistently winning roster.
Therefore, the Bucks need to consider overhauling their backcourt, which can either be done by letting both of them go or working to keep one of them.
The best thing the Bucks could do is to start over from scratch with their backcourt since neither Jennings or Ellis have been able to demonstrate any sort of above-average ability.
For Jennings' three-plus season career, he has only been able to post 0.92 win shares contributed per 48 minutes while Ellis' eight-plus season career mark is even worse at 0.71 win shares contributed per 48 minutes, making both of them below-average players. Given both of the players' inability to score at an efficient level, a vast turnaround in their contributed win shares rate is improbable.
However, if the Bucks are intent on trying to retain the services of one, then the only conclusion one can draw is that the team either misunderstands what it takes to build a winning team or that it is simply not interested in creating a viable roster.
Any choice, provided the Bucks are even considering making one, between Jennings and Ellis is a false one and will lead to the Bucks remaining as a fringe playoff team for the foreseeable future.
For the sake of the franchise, the Bucks need to stop playing these two together and go out and find better starting backcourt options. Only then can the franchise hope to improve in its ability to win games.
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