They’re just two games into this season but the Milwaukee Bucks are already looking like one of the league’s most frightening offensive teams, with Mike Budenholzer’s floor spacing approach evident to see in two wins. One over the Sacramento Kings and one last night, a 118-101 dismantling of the visiting Indiana Pacers, showing that the poorly executed sets of the Jason Kidd have gone. They are instead replaced with free-flowing and inventive basketball.
Milwaukee attempted a franchise-high 47 threes in the Opening Night WIN over the Pacers, burying 17 of them!!
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 20, 2018
When I wrote my Bucks preview for the Double Clutch Season Guide, I fully expected them to increase their shots from the perimeter. However, two games in and the Bucks are on track to blast their 2017-18 campaign numbers out of the window, something that I wasn’t entirely sure would be so instantaneous. I certainly wouldn’t consider them a comparison to the Houston Rockets, and yet, so far, they are taking an average of 40 attempts per-game from beyond the arc, which places them a strong second behind Mike D’Antoni’s three-point bombing offense.
My preview stated that Budenholzer had every Bucks player in the gym , shooting threes, even the guys who you fear taking them. But so far, this appears to have had the desired effect. Currently, Milwaukee is tied 10th in offensive efficiency (with the New York Knicks, somehow) and they’re shooting the lights out, ranking eighth in three-point percentage.
Last season, across their first seven games, the Bucks hit on a total of 67 three-point makes, shooting 182 of them. This season, they’ve posted 80 three-point attempts across two games, making 31 (38.8%) meaning they are well on-track to smashing previous campaign totals.
A lot those makes are courtesy of Khris Middleton, who has shot 8 of 15 so far from the perimeter. Teammates Eric Bledsoe and Malcom Brogdan also rank inside the top 25 in three-pointers made. And 11 out of 13 active players on the Bucks’ roster so far this season have attempted to score from beyond the arc, with five of those hitting above 50%.
In fact, the strangest thing about this so far is that John Henson has more made three-pointers than Giannis Antetokounmpo.
— Milwaukee Bucks’ Film Room (@BucksFilmRoom) October 20, 2018
Giannis, is unsurprisingly, reaping the benefits of this new offensive juggernaut. In the two games so far, he has dominated the paint, averaging 21 a game and forcing opposing defences to collapse inwards. This has led to their three-point success.
He’s averaging 25.5 points per-game and grabbing 16.5 rebounds along the way. On Friday, Antetokounmpo finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. He had put up 22 points and 11 rebounds by halftime, and even though he went 0-7 from beyond the arc, he kept shooting.
The Bucks and Giannis, as expected, have well and truly been unleashed.