Milwaukee Bucks: Tony Snell could be key to their playoff success

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks’ shooting guard Tony Snell will play a key role for his team in the 2018 playoffs. Whether it’s good or bad is yet to be determined.

In 2016, Tony Snell had a breakout season for the Milwaukee Bucks following a trade from the Chicago Bulls. He posted 10.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per 36 minutes while shooting 40.6 percent from downtown on 5.5 attempts. Although it may not seem like much, it was a much-needed contribution from a guy who didn’t have high expectations coming into the season.

Then Snell and the Bucks agreed to a four-year, $46 million contract last summer, rewarding him for the hard work he put in. Unfortunately, the shooting guard has become an afterthought to coaches and fans alike ever since.

After starting all 80 games he appeared in last season, he’s been bounced in and out of the lineup by former head coach Jason Kidd and now Joe Prunty. This apparent lack of appreciation for Snell’s skillset has completely killed his confidence and made him a shell of his former self. This season, his numbers are down to 9.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per 36 minutes while shooting 40.2 percent on 4.7 three-point attempts.

Check out this erratic playing time he’s received in the last nine games alone:

2017-18 Regular Season Table
73662018-03-2526-135MILSASW (+3)013:13
74672018-03-2726-137MIL@LACL (-7)06:52
75682018-03-2926-139MIL@GSWW (+9)126:55
76692018-03-3026-140MIL@LALW (+2)129:32
77702018-04-0126-142MIL@DENL (-3)133:07
78712018-04-0326-144MILBOSW (+4)116:33
79722018-04-0526-146MILBRKL (-8)116:04
80732018-04-0726-148MIL@NYKW (+13)130:53
81742018-04-0926-150MILORLW (+16)125:18

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/11/2018.

It’s so difficult for Snell to get any sense of rhythm with his game when he’s being yanked all over the place. He never knows how much playing time he’s going to receive and that can mess with a man’s psyche.

Little do the Bucks know, but Snell can become their X-factor in the playoffs. Their secret weapon. The key to their playoff success.

When he’s at his best, he’s the perfect compliment to superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. With a usage percentage of just 10.6 this season, he doesn’t require the ball in his hands and allows Antetokounmpo to go to work. He’s not one who will sulk or pout when he doesn’t get his chances on offense.

His terrific ability to knock down outside shots also ensures his defender won’t stray too far away from him and keeps the driving lanes open for his teammates. Even though he can’t do much more than catch-and-shoot, he doesn’t need to on this team thanks to the number of other shot-creators and playmakers they have.

Even if Snell isn’t always a reliable contributor on offense, he can make himself known thanks to his consistent defensive play. At 6-foot-7, he has the height and athletic ability to guard some of the best players the Bucks might see in the playoffs including DeMar DeRozan, Jason Tatum, LeBron James or Ben Simmons.

By taking turns defending these players, he can keep his teammates fresh for the offensive side of the court and help to limit the damage done by the opposing team. He can also work well with Khris Middleton in taking turns to defend opposing wings and giving them different looks throughout the game.

Jason Terry and Sterling Brown have been decent contributors throughout the season, with Terry receiving more playing time lately. However, they both have their serious limitations and Milwaukee will be hard-pressed to win a playoff series relying heavily on a 6-foot-2, 40-year-old shooting guard (no offense, I love the guy).

Prunty took a positive step by reinserting Snell back into the starting lineup, now he has to work on building up his confidence. He has one game left against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night to start that process and then continue it in the playoffs.

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If Milwaukee is serious about not only competing in the first round of the playoffs, but advancing to the semi-finals, they will need all their role players to step up. And Snell is first in line to help supplement the Bucks’ core.