This NBA season has delivered the revitalization of basketball in Los Angeles. For the first time in years, we’ve seen both a wide-open western conference and the debut of the incredibly hyped prospect, Zion Williamson. Nonetheless, it is essential to recognize quality teams that might’ve been lost amongst the hype.
The Milwaukee Bucks have done just that year. Led by the dominant MVP front runner Giannis Antetokounmpo and with mostly the same roster from their conference finals exit a year ago the Bucks have been dominating the eastern conference and are en route to one of the best regular seasons in NBA history.
Here are some of the many reasons the Bucks are the NBA’s elite team.
The Greek Freak Continuing His Reign of Terror
To contend for a title in the modern NBA a team needs at least one (if not multiple) superstars. The Milwaukee Bucks certainly have one of those in Giannis Antetokounmpo, last season’s most valuable player.
Giannis’ incredible play from last season has carried over into the 2019-2020 season and even improved in some key areas. He is having his best three-point shooting season since his rookie year, shooting over 32 percent on five attempts per game. While not incredible numbers by any means, it does help to open up the floor for the Bucks, allowing Giannis to continue his dominance around the basket as well.
His defense has also been just as good if not better than last season. With Giannis on the court, the Bucks defensive rating is 97, the best in the NBA by a wide margin. No other team is even under 100 this season.
Locking Down Opposing Teams
Because of how fast the Bucks play it may seem that their defense, which is ranked ninth in points allowed, is worse than it actually is. In reality, they have done a spectacular job on the defensive end, especially considering how fast their pace is.
Per 100 possesions the Bucks rank as the best defense in the NBA, allowing only an average of 102 points over and 100 possesions. This defense is not just the result of Giannis’ incredible play it is a total team effort. Even when Giannis is on the bench the Bucks still rank as the second-best defensive team in the league, behind only the Toronto Raptors.
Other key pieces on their team, such as Eric Bledsoe Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, are all good defenders in their own right. The team has very few if any defensive liabilities and they are a well-rounded squad on that end of the court.
The Bench Mob
Milwaukee might just be the deepest team in the NBA this year, regularly running a 12 man rotation, and their bench has played a critical part in their success. Players like Donte DiVincenzo, George Hill and Ersan Ilyasova have all played key roles for the Bucks while playing less than 20 minutes a night.
The bench overall ranks in the top 10 in nearly every statistical category. Most notably they are the best rebounding bench unit in the NBA and also have the best plus-minus at plus 3.4.
With such a good bench unit this year, Milwaukee hasn’t had to rely on Giannis as much and are able to rest him when needed. The hope is that with a better rested Giannis and a deeper bench, the Bucks will be able to storm through the eastern conference playoffs and reach their first NBA finals since 1974.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference
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