It’s no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks have taken this season by storm having the 3rd best record in the league while being tied for the fewest losses. Giannis Antetokounmpo and company have emerged as a top team out East. How exactly are they doing it and is it sustainable? Let’s dive into the numbers.
Clearly, Mike Budenholzer has changed turned this team around. Last season Milwaukee was 15th in total points per game and out of the top 20 for threes made and three-point percentage. This season, however, the Bucks lead the league in PPG at 121.1 (2.5 per game more than the Warriors) and threes made while landing 5th in 3P%. Snell, Middleton, Brogdon, and Lopez are all sitting at 42% or better from behind the arc, a huge turnaround from last season. It’s not that everyone is shooting better, it’s that Budenholzer has incorporated a system to get this team easier shots and they’re simply knocking them down. Khris Middleton is averaging a shade under 20 PPG off of 46.7% from the field and 44.5 from behind the arc while also leading the Bucks in steals. With all that being said about the team around him, it’s nearly impossible to talk about this teams success without mentioning Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Greek Freak has been, for lack of a better word, freakish this season. Averaging 25.6 PPG on 55.8% shooting to go along with his team-high 12.7 RPG, while also accounting for 27.2% of the Bucks total assists. Diving further into his scoring Giannis attempts 55.4% of his shots within 3 feet of the basket and makes them at a 79.7% clip. His ability to get to the rim at will and collapse defenses can’t be underestimated for this team. To further prove that point he is currently 4th in USG% at 32%, only behind Harden, Westbrook, and LaVine this season. Budenholzer hasn’t just made this team an offensive powerhouse this season, they’ve been great defensively too.
While they were a pretty good defensive team last year Milwaukee has gotten even better during their 2018-2019 campaign. Last year, the Bucks finished 18th in DEFRTG allowing 109.1 PPG to their opponents. This season that number is down to 104.4, good for 4th in the league. Their combination of length and versatility at every position has helped them rank 2nd overall in blocks and opponents FG% as well.
Coach Budenholzer has this team firing on all cylinders and it seems to be sustainable. While their offense could regress slightly it’s not based off a statistical anomaly or one player suddenly breaking out, but rather a change in their systematic approach to the offense. Another reason it’s sustainable is that their defense has been great, even against good offensive teams like Indiana and Philadelphia. While they more than likely won’t win anything this season, Budenholzer, Giannias, and the rest of team are putting the league on notice and proving why the NBA should fear the deer for years to come.