Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless Scoring Fuels Bench

Nov 1, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerryd Bayless (19) dribbles the ball past Washington Wizards guard Andre Miller (24) in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 108-97. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerryd Bayless (19) dribbles the ball past Washington Wizards guard Andre Miller (24) in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 108-97. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

When coming off a season like the Milwaukee Bucks had last year, things are going to change. When you’re coming off a season that you went 15-67, hopefully lots of things change, including your record in a positive way.

One major change was at coach, after an odd Jason Kidd addition, replacing Larry Drew after only one season. Drew didn’t have much of a chance to turn things around in Milwaukee, but Bucks ownership seemingly felt Kidd was the right way to go for an organization on the rise.

Fifteen wins won’t turn to 51 any time soon, but heading in the right direction is certainly a must no matter who is coaching. Early on, the Bucks have shown just that: improvement.

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When you look at the league’s best young talent, the Bucks certainly possess a few of those players.

Jabari Parker

is the obvious one being drafted second overall this past summer, but many expect

Brandon Knight

to make major leaps in his game this season and even

Larry Sanders

, now five years in, could start to blossom offensively.

Along with those young’uns are some more experienced fellows, specifically O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless coming off the bench.

It was tough to predict Kidd’s rotation based on the preseason, as that is usually a time to test training camp signees and get garbage time players some good minutes.

A perfect example why to not make too much of the preseason is what Bayless has done through four games after not scoring more than seven points before the regular season began.

In a pair of 14-minute stints to close out October, Bayless only managed four and six points, but has exploded to kick off November. In facing Washington and Indiana, Bayless has posted stat lines of 20 points (5-of-10 shooting, 2-of-2 from 3) along with three rebounds and two assists, and 10 points (4-of-7, 2-of-3).

Mayo, who had a strong ending to the preseason after a slow beginning, was fantastic in October, yet not so hot in November. After games of 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and 25 points, three rebounds, and five assists last month, Mayo has had games of three points, two rebounds and nine points, three rebounds, and five assists this month.

While it would be nice to have both Bayless and Mayo playing well at the same time, seeing both of them succeed has been a nice surprise this season. Last season, Mayo fell out of Drew’s rotation due to conditioning issues.

Too bad Drew isn’t around nowadays, because Mayo is slimmed down and playing much more confidently. When you have a shooter like Mayo playing confident, opposing defenders better bring their A-games.

Bayless has been a pretty good bench player in his six NBA seasons, but has been swapped around a couple times. After playing 31 games with Memphis, the Grizzlies decided to ship Bayless to Boston for Courtney Lee. Bayless then decided to determine his own fate by signing with Milwaukee in the offseason.

Bayless and Mayo are trying to prove some people wrong–or prove Milwaukee right–this season, and thus far they’re off to a great start.

Before facing Indiana, Milwaukee ranked first in the NBA in bench points per game with 44.3. Milwaukee is deeper than people think with Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson alongside Bayless and Mayo. Ersan Ilyasova has been coming off the bench as well, but started over Khris Middleton against the Pacers.

In other categories, the Bucks reserves rank fifth in shooting percentage (.505), first in 3-point percentage (.500), second in offensive efficiency (50.0), first in defensive efficiency (22.7), and fifth in assists (8.7).

Obviously Bayless and Mayo haven’t done all of this themselves, but they have shown to be the leaders early on with their experience in the league.

With Chicago, New York, and Brooklyn on the schedule within the next couple weeks, Mayo, Bayless and the rest of the second unit will have good opportunities to prove their worth against other top notch NBA benches.

Overall as a team, the Bucks have looked good in the first week of the season. Aside from the bench, the young players expected to play well have done just that.

While turnovers and giving up leads has been a problem, beating the Pacers in Indiana and almost topping the Hornets (also on the road) on opening night could be signs of things to come in the near future. Whether that’s this season or in the coming years, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Mayo and Bayless have looked strong early on, but consistency is key in this league. If they want to keep Milwaukee’s bench atop the league and the team winning, they must keep scoring consistently, and not just switch back and forth on who is playing well.

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