What Did the Milwaukee Bucks Gain in Adding Michael Carter-Williams?
In one of the more surprising trades in the NBA at the deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers sent the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a three-team trade with the Phoenix Suns.
Since the 76ers still have us all scratching our heads and Bryan Mears did an excellent job at breaking down all of the moves from the Suns' perspective, so let's see how gaining the former Rookie of the Year benefits the Bucks.
While Michael Carter-Williams may be the highlight of this trade with the Suns and 76ers, the Bucks also received point guard Tyler Ennis, a first-round pick this year, and forward Miles Plumlee from the Suns. Ennis was buried on the Suns' depth chart but will have more chances to share some time as the backup point guard with Jerryd Bayless while Plumlee will allow the Bucks to stay strong defensively in their frontcourt rotations.
Additionally, Plumlee brings to the table a Defensive Rating of 104 and 2 blocks per 36 minutes to the table for the Bucks, which should allow the Bucks to pair him with John Henson's 3.6 blocks per 36 minutes and 99 Defensive Rating to form a good rim-protecting duo when they need to rest Zaza Pachulia.
Carter-Williams boasts some nice defensive numbers as well, bringing in a 104 Defensive Rating, 1.7 Defensive Win Shares, and 1.5 steals per game. These numbers haven't dipped much from his rookie year and are fairly comparable to the guy he replaced, Brandon Knight. Knight has a 103 Defensive Rating, contributed 2.4 Defensive Win Shares, and swiped the ball 1.6 per game for the Bucks.
The Bucks are currently the third best defensive team according to our efficiency metrics (102.2). They shouldn't change much defensively, easily staying within the top-five defenses in the league. It's the offense that Bucks' fan should be concerned about.
Brandon Knight wasn't necessarily the best offensive weapon for the Bucks, as his Offensive Rating of 105 was just seventh-best on the team. However, he was the team's leading scorer at 17.8 points per game as well as the leader in dimes, dishing out 5.4 a game. It's a 5.8 points per game difference to the second leading scorer on the team with Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is putting up 12 points a game. Jerryd Bayless is second on the team in assists at 3.1 per game.
The addition of Carter-Williams and company won't exactly help the Bucks in the scoring department, relying on the team's defense even more. While MCW was the 76ers' leading scorer, he's only been putting up 15 points per game, a 1.7-point drop from last year.
Miles Pumlee didn't play enough minutes with the Suns to score a lot of points per game and even when we prorate his stats to 36 minutes, Pumlee still only averages 8.3 points. Ennis could be buried on the depth chart for the Bucks or at least only get playing time in spurts, but he did show promise in college and has averaged 18.4 points per game in nine D-League games.
Carter-Williams will likely end up as the leading scorer on the Bucks as it all stands right now, and being on a better offense (the Bucks rank 19th in our efficiency metrics) could help MCW bring up his paltry 38% shooting percentage. Carter-Williams does also bring a higher turnover percentage (20.1%) than Knight (16.7%) did to the team.
In the end, we probably won't see much of a difference in the Bucks' style of play. They weren't scaring anyone as it was with their offense with only 99.2 points per game (19th in the league), but they have one of the league's most reliable defenses. Plumlee will help strengthen the bench and Carter-Williams' defensive style will fit right in with everyone else.
But there is still a big downgrade for the Bucks at the point guard position as Brandon Knight left the Bucks with a 2.5 nERD rating. MCW comes to the team with our worst nERD rating in the league among 140 qualified players (-10.7).
The Bucks might slip some in the win-loss column as the transition to MCW running point, putting them further behind the Wizards and Cavaliers. However, they have a 7.5-game lead on the 7 and 8 seeds in the East, virtually guaranteeing them a spot in the playoffs
It's hard seeing them get past the top-five teams in the East anyway, and the Bucks have just an 0.8% chance to win it all.