Nehm: Three Bucks lineups I’d like to see on the floor next season


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Despite playing their last game more than three months ago, the Bucks are still two months away from game action in the 2022-23 season. Such is life for a team eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

After a busy first few days of free agency and then one last signing a little more than a week ago, the Bucks’ 15-man roster is now full. While there are a few new faces in town, 11 players on the Bucks’ 15-man roster were on the team last season. But that doesn’t mean everything will be the same, especially with a brand new head coach in Adrian Griffin.


How will playing time be distributed for the Bucks? Adrian Griffin may have new ideas

With new priorities on offense and defense, the players will not only end up doing different things this season, but Griffin will also deploy them in different ways. Last week, we pondered some of the different rotation questions Griffin will need to answer this upcoming season. And now this week, we are going to take a look at three hypothetical lineups I think would be interesting to see next season.

(Note: Feel free to throw your ideas in the comments section as well!)

Lineup: Jrue Holiday, Pat Connaughton, Khris Middleton, Jae Crowder, Giannis Antetokounmpo

There will always be great fascination around putting Giannis Antetokounmpo at center. With Antetokounmpo’s poor outside shooting, putting him at center and getting four shooters or playmakers on the floor will always be one of the best ways for the Bucks to play at a fast pace, spread the floor and defend well enough to take advantage of teams with a quick-hitting spread offensive attack.

Outside of the 2021-22 season when Brook Lopez missed a large majority of the Bucks’ games though, the Bucks did not regularly rely on lineups with Antetokounmpo at center under former coach Mike Budenholzer. Typically, Antetokounmpo played anywhere between 10 and 15 percent of his possessions each season at center under Budenholzer.

% of Poss at C Off Rtg Def Rtg Net Rtg


























As Griffin builds a rotation this summer and figures out how he wants to play the roster that general manager Jon Horst has assembled for him, determining how to deploy Antetokounmpo will be at the top of Griffin’s list. As far as using Antetokounmpo at center, the lineup listed above provides an interesting “small-ball” option, but it remains a total mystery, despite it being a possibility last season.

According to Cleaning the Glass, last season the “Big Three plus Connaughton and Crowder” lineup never saw the floor during the regular season or the playoffs. There were injuries to Antetokounmpo, Crowder and Middleton that limited the overall opportunities to play that lineup, but it was still a shock, considering Budenholzer used a “Big Three plus Connaughton and P.J. Tucker” lineup for nearly 10 percent of the team’s postseason possessions during the Bucks’ 2021 championship run.

Overall, this lineup is interesting to me because, while it is technically a “small-ball” look, it features great size. While Budenholzer deployed Crowder at small forward for 37 percent of his possessions last season, the 6-foot-6 forward spent 97 percent of his time on the floor as a power forward in two seasons with the Suns. In Milwaukee, Connaughton has regularly shown an ability to go up the ladder and defend bigger players as well, which would help the Bucks put together a stout unit to handle teams with more size than the Bucks.

Defensively, this unit might need to rely on more switching because of an overall lack of elite quickness, but that would seem like a welcome feature of such a unit after years of watching the Bucks play man-to-man with drop coverage. Offensively, Antetokounmpo would be surrounded by capable shooters, and the team’s three best playmakers would be on the floor to make up for the fact that Connaughton and Crowder tend to be used as stationary shooters.

While there are certainly question marks in the lineup, it certainly seems like it could be one of the best “small-ball” units the Bucks have ever assembled with Antetokounmpo at center.

Team Tempo

Lineup: Andre Jackson, MarJon Beauchamp, Malik Beasley, Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis

This offseason, Horst talked quite a bit about his desire to make the roster more athletic and an overall goal of improving the team’s speed. If Griffin wants to try to take full advantage of that priority, this might be the lineup most capable of fulfilling that vision on the roster. Antetokounmpo, the league’s most freakish athlete, will always be central to any fast and athletic unit for the Bucks, but the other four members of this lineup help create a funky and unusual unit capable of speeding up and down the floor.

Beauchamp and Jackson, the Bucks’ two youngest wings potentially vying for playing time next season, form an interesting pairing in this lineup. Beauchamp has shown an ability to get around screens and found himself covering guards throughout his rookie season, and that would give the Bucks a chance to matchup with guards defensively even if they don’t have a traditional point guard on the floor. Jackson, on the other hand, could help the Bucks cover some of the point guard duties with his ability to bring the ball up the floor and make plays for others, while still covering a couple different positions.

Beasley (or AJ Green, if you want to get even funkier) would make the pairing of young wings on the floor more palatable because of his outside shooting. While Beauchamp has shown promise as an outside shooter, Jackson is not expected to become a knockdown shooter before the Bucks take the floor in October, so that means the Bucks will have to find ways to make his playmaking more dangerous in the interim.

At Connecticut, one of Jackson’s greatest skills was pushing in transition and finding the Huskies’ dangerous outside shooters. One way for the Bucks to help him transition to the NBA would be giving him as many reps as possible with shooters to give him a chance to develop chemistry in dribble handoffs and kick-outs with a handful of players to make him more dangerous when he’s out on the floor.

Jackson is likely not going to be a big scorer in his rookie season, so finding a way to help make his passing as impactful as possible could help make his minutes more successful. With Beasley’s quick trigger and willingness to fire up 3-pointers, the 26-year-old shooting guard could be the perfect person to pair with Jackson to take advantage of the rookie’s floor

Portis is the obvious selection for a big man for this unit because of how hard he runs the floor and how well he shoots from behind the 3-point line. With his motor and his shooting skill on the floor, this lineup could successfully push the pace and show off the team’s speed with primarily players off the bench.

A staggered unit led by Holiday

Lineup: Holiday, Beauchamp, Connaughton, Portis, Brook Lopez

It will be interesting to see how Griffin goes about staggering his starters to start the season and what patterns he eventually falls into as the season unfolds. As Budenholzer’s tenure showed, the staggering of stars (as well as many other rotation-based decisions) tended to change year-over-year as a roster changes and a head coach alters their own thoughts on the matter.

In the three seasons since the Bucks acquired Holiday, the Bucks have proven capable of not only surviving without Antetokounmpo on the floor, but thriving without him in a couple different configurations. In the last two seasons, without Antetokounmpo on the floor, units led by both Holiday and Middleton have been overwhelmingly successful. When just one of Holiday or Middleton are on the floor though, things do not go quite as well.



No Giannis / Jrue + Khris





No Giannis / Khris, no Jrue





No Giannis / Jrue, no Khris






No Giannis / Jrue + Khris





No Giannis / Khris, no Jrue





No Giannis / Jrue, no Khris






No Giannis / Jrue + Khris





No Giannis / Khris, no Jrue





No Giannis / Jrue, no Khris





The Bucks have consistently been successful, even if only mildly, with Holiday as the lone member of the big three on the floor, so this is an attempt at building a lineup that could maximize those moments. With Holiday and Lopez on the floor but Antetokounmpo and Middleton on the bench, the Bucks have been elite defensively in each of the last three seasons. Things may change with Griffin’s new defensive scheme, but pairing Holiday and Lopez seems like one of the simpler ways to guarantee a strong defensive unit using some bench players.

With a strong defensive base through Holiday and Lopez, the unit could use some offensive punch and Portis, who has been one of the league’s most consistent bench scorers for the last three seasons, seems like an obvious choice to include to give the lineup size and offensive firepower. With Portis on the floor, Holiday would have two big men to use in the pick-and-roll game. Both can either roll all the way to the rim or pop to the 3-point line and also serve as capable floor spacers when not involved in the primary offensive action.

While Connaughton might not be able to create a ton off the dribble, he is a smart cutter and put together two solid seasons of 3-point shooting before struggling from deep last season, hitting only 33.9 percent of his 3-point attempts. If Connaughton can regain his previous form from behind the 3-point line, he could help open up the floor for Holiday. He is also a strong team defender which could help solidify the unit’s defensive approach.

Beauchamp might not be able to shoot from deep like Beasley or Allen, but he flashed an ability to get through screens and chase point guards and shooting guards around the floor in his rookie season. Getting time on the floor with Holiday could help Beauchamp continue to grow defensively and pick up some tricks from one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders.

If the Bucks are serious about getting younger and more athletic, letting Beauchamp share the floor with Holiday and Lopez could help him understand the standard that will be expected on the defensive end to get playing time in the postseason.

(Photo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jae Crowder: Jeff Haynes / NBAE via Getty Images)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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