The Milwaukee Bucks -- last season's feel-good story in the NBA -- have struggled to start the season. But Wednesday brought some good news, as Jabari Parker was back in the lineup against the Sixers. Parker's long recovery from an ACL tear appears to be complete, but what does his return mean for the Bucks?
What's wrong with the Bucks so far?
The Bucks' rise last season was fueled by their second-ranked defense, but so far this season they've been abysmal. Personnel changes and general lack of experience have been problems. SCHOENE projected Milwaukee to have the second-youngest team in the league when factoring in playing time. While the young core is promising, the team misses departed veterans Ersan Ilyasova, Jared Dudley and Zaza Pachulia. I asked a scout if that was a factor. He pointed at his head and said, "Those guys are smart."
The turnover on the Bucks' roster has been amplified by Parker's early absence and injuries to O.J. Mayo and, especially, rim-protecting big man John Henson. The lack of continuity has played into the defensive struggles.
"When people are turning the corner," Bucks GM John Hammond told Insider, "there are some open looks that wouldn't be there as much with John protecting the basket."
The shortcomings are across the board: Milwaukee is 28th in foul rate and dead last in defensive rebound percentage. The offense ranks 26th in turnover rate. This has fed the transition attacks of the Bucks' early opponents.