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Calculated Countdown: 2 Days to Tipoff

The regular season is rapidly approaching. That means it’s time for the now-annual tradition of our Calculated Countdown series examining a particular stat that corresponds to the number of days until tipoff. Today, we peek at what should be a deadly transition attack for Milwaukee and how potent it could be under Bud.

2 Days to Tipoff

Milwaukee ranked “2nd” in frequency of plays that came in transition

Milwaukee may’ve looked like a wounded Buck at points last season offensively, but at least they were willing to get out in transition quite often. 19.4% of their plays last season came in transition, via NBA.com, just one tick behind the Los Angeles Lakers who finished at 19.5%. There’s plenty to read into among the numbers here, so let’s dive a smidge deeper.

First and foremost, the Bucks were effective in transition, their 1.11 points per possession (PPP) tied them for tenth in the league with Sacramento and Denver. Transition plays are generally considered highly efficient plays, as evidenced by the fact Brooklyn ranks last in terms of PPP but still manages 1.0 points per possessions, an average mark of efficiency. The top of the scale only hits 1.2 PPP where the Houston Rockets lurk, but considering Milwaukee’s high frequency in transition, I’d say their mark is quite serviceable. They’re ranked 10th in effective field goal percentage (60.2%), 4th in shooting foul frequency (14.2%) and 6th in both scoring frequency (51.5%) and And One frequency (3.6%).

The intriguing wrinkle in all this, is that Bud’s Atlanta team had the fourth lowest percentage of plays come in transition last year. Since NBA.com started making these stats public (2015-16), Bud’s only year in the top-ten in terms of transition frequency was 15-16, otherwise he’s been bottom ten. Thankfully, Cleaning The Glass has done their own work in the transition game, and gives us a deeper view into Bud’s tenure. They ranked 12th in terms of frequency his first two times in Atlanta. What isn’t evident though, is any sort of consistency scoring in that regard.

Here’s how Milwaukee and Atlanta have ranked in regards to points per play from Cleaning the Glass over the last four years.

Transition Points per Play

Team 14-15 15-16 16-17 17-18
Team 14-15 15-16 16-17 17-18
Milwaukee 126.2 (11th) 128.2 (5th) 130.1 (2nd) 121.3 (14th)
Atlanta 125.1 (13th) 127.5 (6th) 110.8 (30th) 121.2 (15th)

Milwaukee had the horses to effectively run in transition and they used it to their advantage. Bud’s defense forced turnovers at nearly the same rate as Milwaukee’s frenetic scheme, yet they rarely converted those opportunities into transition chances. The Bucks, meanwhile, nearly ranked in the top-five for all four of Kidd’s seasons in terms of frequency of transition plays that came off of steals. It’s possible Bud places far more belief in his system than relying on pure athleticism to optimize those prime opportunities, but I’m curious how flexible he’ll be in allowing them to run away with it after rebounds and steals. I suppose we’re just two days away from finding out with much more certainty.

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