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Bucks: Boosting long-distance shooting priority this season

October 8, 2016 GMT

The Milwaukee Bucks’ top priority during the offseason was to bolster their pitiful perimeter shooting.

Coming off a season in which they were dead last in 3-point attempts (15.6 per game) and makes (5.4), they brought in a wave of shooters. But those efforts were undermined before training camp even started when their top 3-point threat, Khris Middleton, was lost for much of the season with an injury.

The Bucks, who will play their second preseason game tonight against the Dallas Mavericks at the Kohl Center, are optimistic they still will be able to upgrade their shooting.

They are counting on newcomers to do the trick after signing free agents Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic and Jason Terry, re-signing Steve Novak and trading for Michael Beasley.

“We have plenty of shooting and high-percentage shooters,” said Terry, a 17-year veteran, last week during the Bucks camp in Madison at the Nicholas-Johnson Pavilion.

Terry knows something about that subject, as he ranks third in career 3-pointers in NBA history.

Teletovic also has some credentials after setting an NBA record for 3-pointers by a reserve (181) last season with the Phoenix Suns.

They should get plenty of opportunities as the Bucks have a long way to go to reach the league average (8.5), much less last season’s top two teams, Golden State (13) and Cleveland (11).

Coach Jason Kidd is counting on the increased perimeter threats to open things up for the team’s two stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, to attack the basket.

“Spreading the floor, we have guys that can make open shots,” Kidd said. “We also have guys that can pass the ball.

“Everybody is going to talk about Khris being out. But so far we’ve had guys step up. (Rashad) Vaughn has been good. Jet (Terry) is going to be Jet; we know what we’re going to get from him.

“We’re going to shoot a lot more threes than we have in the first two years.”

Vaughn, the Bucks’ No. 1 draft choice in 2015 after one season at UNLV, struggled with his shot as a rookie but is expected to get the first shot at Middleton’s starting job.

And while 3-point bombing isn’t the forte for either Antetokounmpo or Parker, they will have the freedom to shoot when they’re left open.

“Everybody is going to improve,” Kidd said. “I think we’ll be right there at the league average (on 3-pointers made), and if things go really well, we’ll be above it.”

Welcome back

Wesley Matthews isn’t the only Mavericks player having a homecoming, as former Badgers guard Devin Harris is on his second tour of duty with Dallas.

Harris, who played his first four seasons with Dallas, is in his fourth season since coming back after playing for New Jersey, Utah and Atlanta. He averaged 7.6 points in a reserve role last season.

The 33-year-old Milwaukee native might not be able to make it onto the Kohl Center floor, however, as he has been sidelined by a toe injury.