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5 Reasons Why The Milwaukee Bucks Are The Best Team In The NBA

5 Reasons Why The Milwaukee Bucks Are The Best Team In The NBA

The Milwaukee Bucks stomped through the 2021 playoffs, going 16-7 before winning the title. The national media gave Giannis and company their due credit for what seemed like a week, then the asterisks began to fly.

We heard things like:

The Nets extended the Bucks to seven games in the Eastern Conference Semis even though James Harden and Kyrie Irving were banged up during that series.

The Atlanta Hawks were a mediocre squad that didn’t have the experience to beat the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Suns were under-matched in the finals and only made it to the penultimate round because they faced the Lakers without AD in the first round, the Nuggets without Jamal Murray in the semis, and the Clippers without Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference Finals.

During the summer, nearly every basketball expert had the Nets, and the Lakers ranked over Milwaukee this season.

The Bucks were listening.

They came out and blasted the much-hyped Nets by 23 points on opening night, putting the league on notice that they’re still the best team in the NBA.

Next, we’ll give five reasons the defending champs are at the top of our power rankings.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo Is The Best Player In The World

Giannis Antetokounmpo Delivers His Promise, Becomes Best Player In The World

Here’s 26-year-old, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s resume:

- 2021 NBA Champion

- NBA Finals MVP

- 2x NBA MVP

- Defensive Player Of The Year

- Most Improved Player

- 5x NBA All-Star

- NBA All-Star Game MVP

- 5x All-NBA Team

And yet, nearly every major sports website had Kevin Durant ranked ahead of Giannis going into the season. Many sites also had Luka Doncic in front of Giannis and even LeBron James.

Giannis dropped a cool 32 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 blocks to go along with a game-high +25 +/- rating against the favored Brooklyn Nets. Most NBA players would kill for those types of numbers just once in their career, but somehow they fall in line with “The Greek Freak’s” stats from last season, where he averaged 28.1 PPG, 11 RPG, 5.9 APG, and 1.2 BPG.

Stephen Curry’s defensive bending, three-point stroke has turned the focus of the NBA world towards shooting. But why?

The Bucks won the title last year while shooting 32.1 percent from distance.

The Lakers took home the chip in 2020 while shooting a below league average 35.4 percent from beyond the arc.

In 2019, the Toronto Raptors won it all with a collective 34.6 three-point percentage.

Even when the Golden State Warriors won the title in 2018, they finished 10th in the playoffs in three-point shooting, hitting a meager 35.7 percent of their attempts.

Clearly, three-point shooting isn’t the key to winning a title. Championships are won behind the strong defense, excellent rebounding, and superstars making excellent isolation plays during clutch situations.

Giannis checks all those boxes.

He has the agility to guard perimeter players and the strength to lock down big men down low, in a way that only Anthony Davis comes close to matching. He hunts rebounds better than any player in the league, and he’s fearless driving to the rim at the end of games.

Kevin Durant’s a Hall-of-Famer, and LeBron could be the GOAT. Luka Doncic is doing things we’ve never seen, and he’s only 22-years-old. Still, they can’t match Giannis’s two-way impact on the game.

The Milwaukee Bucks Have The Best Defense In The League

Giannis, Holiday, Middleton

Last year during the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks had the tenth best defensive rating in the NBA at a ho-hum 111.4. Then the playoffs began, and the Bucks suffocated the opposition into brick after brick, eventually winning the title with the number one defense in the postseason.

The Bucks are long.

Check out the measurements on each member of the Bucks 2021-2022 starting unit:

- Jrue Holiday: 6’7” wingspan

- Grayson Allen: 6’6" wingspan

- Khris Middleton: 6’11" wingspan

- Giannis Antetokounmpo: 7’3” wingspan

- Brook Lopez: 7’6” wingspan

We saw the Bucks use their length on opening night to force perhaps the best shooting team in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets, into connecting on only 44 percent of their collective field goal attempts. And that wasn’t an aberration, either. Last season Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks two starting big men, combined to protect the rim, better than nearly every other frontcourt duo in the league. Lopez held his assignments to 3.2 percent lower than normal field goal percentage while Giannis smothered the players he guarded into shooting 4.6 percent under their regular mark.

Milwaukee’s impressive D goes behind their length. They work as a unit, never missing an assignment, and as we just saw against the Nets, this squad isn’t suffering from any type of championship malaise. The Bucks seemed to play at a higher gear than Brooklyn the entire night, which is a bad sign for the rest of the league.

Khris Middleton Is One Of The Most Underrated Players Today

Khris Middleton

If you’re an NBA fan, you already know about Khris Middleton’s shooting prowess. During the 2019-2020 season, he shot 45.2 percent on 2.9 catch and shoot three-point attempts per game, and last year he connected on a nearly identical 43.1 percent of his catch and shoot shots from deep.

You also know that Khris Middleton’s an elite defender. Over the last handful of seasons, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has consistently tasked Middleton with defending the opposing squad’s best offensive weapon. Last season, he held his assignment to a measly 46.7 field goal percentage, and throughout 2019-2020 he stifled his man into a very impressive 40.5 percent from the field.

What you might not know is that during last year’s playoffs, Khris Middleton morphed from perhaps the best 3-and-D wing in the association into a bona fide star. In today’s NBA, we judge superstars on how they’re able to manufacture postseason points when a halfcourt possession bogs down and the opposing defense is set. In the past, Khris Middleton was awful in isolation play types. During the 2019 playoffs, he averaged 0.85 points per possession, putting him in the 42 percentile of all postseason participants. Then in the 2020 playoffs, he got worse, averaging only 0.80 PPP, good for the 24th percentile. Finally, in the 2021 playoffs, Middleton broke through and averaged 1.06 PPP, good for 15th in the league and better than Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Luka Doncic.

Over the past few seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks’ offense stalled in the playoffs when opposing teams ratcheted up their defensive intensity because they didn’t have a player who could get his own bucket when Giannis was double-teamed. Now Milwaukee has that player in Khris Middleton, which is one of the main reasons this rendition of the Bucks is the frontrunner for the 2022 title.

Jrue Holiday Is A Top-Flight Point Guard

Jrue Holiday

We heard about the Brooklyn Nets Big 3 and the Lakers’ fantastic new Trio all summer long. Fast forward to opening night, and Kyrie Irving’s sitting at home because he refused to get vaccinated. Now Brooklyn’s down to a Big 2 of Kevin Durant and James Harden. In LA, Russell Westbrook’s still on the team, but he bricked his way through the preseason, averaging 9.5 points per contest on 35 percent shooting, with more turnovers than assists or rebounds. Things got worse on opening night. Westbrook went 0 for 4 from deep and scored only eight points, as the Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors. Sure, it’s early, and Westbrook might round into form, but the Lakers are also down to a Big 2 featuring LeBron James and Anthony Davis for now.

Why hasn’t anybody talked about the defending champs Big 3?

Jrue Holiday forms the front wheel of the Bucks tricycle of destruction along with Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Jrue Holiday’s only made one All-Star team way back in 2013, despite averaging 21.2 PPG and 7.7 APG in 2019, 19.1 PPG and 6.7 APG in 2020, and 17.7 PPG and 6.1 APG last season. It seems unfair, but it doesn’t take away from the two-way force Jrue Holiday has become.

At 6’3" and 205 pounds, Jrue Holiday is one of the most physical point guards in the league. He’s a perfect defender against bigger players like James Harden, Ben Simmons, and Kyle Lowry, since they’re used to bullying smaller point guards. When they go up against the strength of Holiday, they often struggle to get the shots they’re accustomed to.

On offense, Holiday slumped from deep when he first came into the league, but year by year, he’s progressed, and last season he entered the upper tier of shooters by hitting 39 percent of his three-point tries off of nearly five attempts per night. In fact, Jrue Holiday’s turned into a genuine three-level threat. Last season, he hit a very impressive 70 percent of his shots at the rim and an even more remarkable 53 percent of his shots from 10 to 16 feet.

Yes, Jrue Holiday doesn’t receive the same recognition as Kyrie Irving or Russell Westbrook. Still, you get one of the best point guards in the association when you weigh in his defensive ability, three-point stroke, and midrange game.

The Bucks Have The Best Role Players In The NBA

Bobby Portis

Donte DiVincenzo averaged 10.4 PPG on 38 percent from deep, 5.8 RPG, and 3.1 APG last season.

Bobby Portis averaged 11.4 PPG on 47 percent from beyond the arc and 7.1 RPG last year.

Rodney Hood only played in five games last season due to a torn Achilles, but he’s averaged 11.3 PPG, 37 3P%, and 2.7 RPG for his career.

These three men form an impressive trinity of role players for the Bucks’. Most teams would love to have one of them. Here’s the thing, though: All three players missed opening night against the Nets because of injury, yet the Bucks roster is so deep they didn’t miss a beat as they stomped Kevin Durant and company.

Grayson Allen’s a new import on the Bucks. The former Duke hero’s a hard-nosed player who’s fearless from deep. He fits perfectly within the Bucks ecosystem.

It seems like George Hill’s played for half the teams in the association, but he’s a wily veteran who’s landed in Milwaukee. He’s a guy who’s more than capable of soaking up minutes while Jrue Holiday’s resting.

Brook Lopez, the Bucks center, is a massive human being. He’s 7’0" with one of the longest wingspans in the league. He’s got a decent outside stroke, but his true impact is felt on the less glamorous side of the ball, where he uses his length to disrupt the opposition close to the rim.

Finally, we can’t forget Pat Connaughton. He plays as hard as anyone in the league on defense, and he’s flashed an improved three-point stroke last season connecting on 37 percent of his attempts from deep.


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