Are The Milwaukee Bucks The Best Team In The NBA?
Criteria for Best Team
In sports, what makes a team the best? Winning more than anyone else? Scoring more than your opponents every game? Maybe it is defense, after all, if you can stop the other side from scoring at crucial moments in the game, a win is most likely in the cards. There are many important ingredients that go into creating the best team in basketball. Where a team ranks in offense and defense, winning streaks, and individual improvement of players’ skills during the off-season, are all key to the success of the best teams in the NBA.
At 38-6, the Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the NBA, but their record is only half of the reason for them being considered the best team in the league. The Bucks domination at home and on the road, being 1st overall in point differential, leading the league in rebounding and FG percentage, and Giannis Antetokounmpo and his supporting cast elevating their games this season, all must be taken into the equation when trying to determine who really is the best team in the NBA.
Men lie, Women lie, Numbers don’t lie. Nothing separates the contenders from the pretenders like a team’s ability to dominate their opponents at home or as a visitor. Statistically, there is no denying the total league domination by the Bucks. Fresh off of having the best record, the best offense, and the best defense last season, “The Deer” are once again the leaders of the pack. Milwaukee has exploded out of the gates this season winning 38 of their first 44 games.
The Bucks have only lost 6 games at slightly past the midpoint of the season. They are showing that they can win against any team in the league. Milwaukee has swept the Los Angeles Clippers this season, and they’ve beaten the Los Angeles Lakers in their only meeting so far. Both of those teams are believed by many to have the best chances of making the NBA Finals from the Western Confernce. During the playoffs, home-court advantage can come in very handy, especially if the series goes to a game 7. By leading the league in wins, Milwaukee is positioning themselves to have home-court advantage throughout the entire playoffs.
Offense and Defense
If a team can control the pace of a game, it usually leads to wins. Defense leads to offense, which can dictate the pace of play. Steals lead to fast breaks, which prevent the opposition from getting back on defense. Defensive pressure disrupts a team from executing their offensive plays in a timely fashion, resulting in a defensive stop, shot-clock violation, or turnover, when pressure is properly applied.
Being the best is not only scoring more than the other team, but it is also in combination with how little defensively a team surrenders, that makes a team elite.
The Bucks are dominating the league offensively out-scoring their opponents by an average of 12.7 points per game. They are scoring at a blistering 120.3 points per game. They also boast the best team field goal percentage in the league at 48.1%.
Milwaukee is tops in the NBA in rebounding, averaging 51.2 rebounds per game. The Bucks currently are 4th in the league in blocks averaging 6.2 blocks per game. Let us truly appreciate the greatness of Milwaukee’s defense because they are in the top 5 in the NBA in 2 defensive categories. Blocked, altered, or closely contested shots, results in rebounding opportunities, leading to the fast break attack of the Bucks, which has been lethal thus far.
Antetokounmpo is the reigning MVP and has picked up his game from last season. The Toronto Raptors created a blueprint on how to defend Giannis, by crowding the paint and daring him to shoot from 20 feet and beyond. This past summer during the FIBA qualifying tournament for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, teams that faced Greece employed the Raptors defensive strategy quite effectively against Giannis.
Disheartened, but determined to get better, Antetokounmpo worked tirelessly during his off-season, in particular, his shot from behind the arc. Although it is early in the season, and nothing matters until the playoffs, there have been drastic improvements in Giannis’ shooting from behind the arc. This season, Giannis is shooting 32.7% from the three-point line. This is forcing teams to respect his touch from distance, paving the way for easier penetration into the paint, resulting in an easy basket for him, or a pass out to a waiting shooter. Giannis is 2nd in the league in scoring (behind James Harden’s 38.1
PPG), averaging 30.5 points per game, but he is not the only one on the team who has stepped up this season. Center Brook Lopez is 4th in the NBA in blocks with 2.4 blocks per game.
At The Buzzer
Although we have not yet reached the halfway point of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the discussion about who is the best team in the NBA has hit a boiling point. Big trades and free-agent signings in the off-season, made the Clippers, Lakers, and Rockets the early picks to be among the best in the league. In 2019, the Milwaukee Bucks had the best regular season record, and despite losing Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers, they find themselves at the top of the mountain early in the 2019-2020 season. Refusing to live off of their last season success and refusing to let their playoff defeat define them, the Bucks have found a way to return to the top of the pack so far this season. An impressive winning streak, stifling defense, the best offense, and the stars of the team getting better in their off-season, makes an airtight case for the Milwaukee Bucks to be considered the best team in the NBA.