Remember in high school when the answers to a multiple choice exam were A,B,C or D?
Without even an educated guess you had a 25 percent chance at getting it right.
Then in college the exams were a bit tougher. Option “E” was added, lowering your percentage at a correct blind guess, and the answer for “C” read “A & B and sometimes D.”
The latter is how the Milwaukee Bucks will most likely have to answer their current conundrum of replacing forward Khris Middleton while he’s sidelined with a left thigh contusion for 3-4 weeks.
Based on the way head coach Mike Budenholzer has rotated his bench this season, we could see nights where they go smaller with Donte DiVincenzo and Sterling Brown.
Then there’s the bigger lineup with Ersan Ilyasova seeing an increase in his 17 minutes per game average.
Through 10 games this season Budenholzer has sent out the same starting lineup. But, thanks to depth, every player in their rotation averages at least a quarter of action per night (12 minutes).
According to NBA analysts Steve Smith and Candace Parker, the Bucks will continue to thrive if Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo continue to lead the charge.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 11, 2019
Here’s a guesstimate of what else we could see from Milwaukee in Middleton’s absence:
Option A: Increase the workload for Sterling Brown
The third year pro has only played in seven games this season, and averages just 12 minutes per appearance. However, Budenholzer has shown confidence in him late in games. His prowess on defense, plus his tenacity on the boards, makes him a viable candidate to help fill some of the void. This season he is shooting a career-high 41.7 percent from three and nearly 52 percent from the floor.
Option B: George Hill to the rescue
When needed, Hill has shown the ability to put on his cape for the Bucks. Looking back at last season while Malcolm Brogdon was sidelined, or last week when he shot 6-of-7 from three and finished with 24 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. If he moves into the starting lineup, Wesley Matthews would more than likely slide down to the small forward position. A smaller yet effective grouping, especially on the defensive end.
Option C: Outside of the box score
Ilyasova isn’t going to stuff the stat sheet. He has only cracked double-digit scoring three times this season. However, he is another veteran option who fully understands his role in the team’s offense. If Antetokounmpo drives to the basket and draws a double-team, Ilyasova is capable of hitting an open look.
When charges and broken noses equate to points, he’ll be in the basketball hall of fame. That grittiness is definitely beneficial to a team missing one of their leaders.
Option D: The Big Ragu
Now that he’s healthy, Donte DiVincenzo has shown signs of why exactly general manager Jon Horst spent a first-round draft selection on him. He’s shooting 45 percent from three and has been the first or second player rotated in each game.
On numerous occasions this season the Bucks have played five bench players at the same time in the first quarter, allowing the starters to rest. DiVincenzo has been one of the key offensive sparks for those lineups and could provide some missing energy.
Option E: Keep the scorer’s table busy
You can’t replace 30 minutes and 18.5 points per game. Middleton, despite how fans feel about his contract, is a vital piece to Milwaukee’s success on both ends of the floor.
The luxury of depth will come in handy over the next month. Constantly rotating in all of the above options plus the possibly of increased roles for Kyle Korver and Pat Connaughton. DJ Wilson has been utilized sparingly this year, but he too is a ball of energy who can contribute when needed.