When the topic of the 1980s Bucks comes up, the forward fans tend to remember is Terry Cummings, largely because he came to the Bucks in 1984, the same summer Michael Jordan was making his entrance into the NBA (and everybody knows that NBA history started right then and there, about the time His Airness signed that big contract with the Nike shoe company), but also because the Bucks with Cummings played two big playoff series against Larry Bird’s Celtics (and everybody knows that the 1980s NBA history that did not happen in relation to Jordan happened as part of the Bird and Magic highlight video). Such is the nature of Bucks history in the bigger picture — no matter how good the Bucks were during the Nellie years 1976-87, they stood in the way of the larger stories both unfolding and being unfolded in the game. To the extent that the latter sometimes mattered more to the TV networks and shoe companies (and a fledgling 24-hour all-sports cable TV channel) than the former is a source of mental anguish for Bucks fans who remember the 1980s and lived and through the Philly series of 2001. The long term effect on the average fan anywhere is that Cummings is the forward remembered ahead of his more accomplished predecessor, Marques Johnson, the four-time All-Star the Bucks traded to acquire the younger Cummings.
This is beginning to change, thanks to the new Bucks owners and their decision to honor historical relevance by hiring Marques to take the seat of semi-retired Bucks TV game analyst Jon McGlocklin; and thanks to the NBA’s newest superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Why thanks to Giannis? Every time GA takes a walk through Bucks statistical record books he runs smack into this other forward the Bucks used to have but many had until now forgotten: Marques Johnson. Giannis in 2016-17 had one of the finest seasons ever by a 22-year-old forward, and the finest season in Bucks history Kareem Abd — oh wait, there’s Marques Johnson’s 1978-79 season, which, until Antetokounmpo came along, was statistically the best season ever played by a Buck not named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It doesn’t take much research to realize that Marques basically played at or near that level for the better part of seven seasons in Milwaukee, 1977-1984.
This upcoming season, Giannis will try to become the first forward in Bucks history since Marques to be voted at least 2nd Team All-Pro more than once. Marques did it three times: once in 1980 and again in 1981; and was honored with a first team All-Pro selection for that historic 1978-79 season.
Link to NBA all-time FG% list: https://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/fg_pct_career.html
Most of the players on the list are big men – Marques in Milwaukee shot 53% for seven seasons, which would have been good enough for the Top 40 all-time had his numbers not dipped during his two-plus seasons with the LA Clippers. He shot 55% from the floor in 1979, which would have led all non-centers except that Cedric Maxwell shot 58.4% for Boston (the last season before Bird entered the league) and Walter Davis, the Phoenix guard, who beat out Marques for the Rookie of the Year in 1978, shot 56%. For the era, Marques’ 53% in Milwaukee is surpassed by Maxwell’s shooting in Boston, and Bobby Jones in Philly, two power forwards on the Bucks rivals; among small forwards only Adrian Dantley surpassed Marques 53% with the Bucks, with a career 54%. Other guys – Bo outlaw, nick collison, Gene Banks – Buck Williams – power forwards all – what position did Bo Outlaw play?
Terry Cummings, though more a power forward than a small forward (though like Marques he played both in Nellie’s offense) shot 48.4% during his five years with the Bucks. That’s what I remember most when comparing the two players. Cummings just seemed to miss a lot more than Marques, and Cummings would go into stretches where he would fall in love with his 20-foot jump shot, not the shots the Bucks really wanted. Still, Cummings got his due – an NBA 2nd Team in 1985, and All-NBA 3rd team in 1989, the first year there was such a thing. And a return engagement with the Bucks in the twilight of his career.
So where am I going with this – – –