Milwaukee Bucks: Letting it fly with confidence is producing results

Jan 4, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 4, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have been letting it fly from behind the arc this season with no hesitation, and it has been producing results.

Since Mike Budenholzer took over as the Milwaukee Bucks’ head coach in 2018, excessive 3-point shooting has been a staple in the team’s offense.

While that has not always worked to their benefit, this retooled roster has fully embraced Budenholzer’s philosophy eight games into the season. The Bucks are working like a well-oiled machine right now, as they rank fourth in 3-point attempts at 40.5 per game and first in 3-point percentage at 43.5 percent.

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Furthermore, the Bucks have hit 20 or more 3-pointers three times already in that span, having fallen just short of adding another to the list with 19 made triples in their win against the Detroit Pistons.

For reference, the Bucks had only connected on 20 shots from behind the arc on four occasions in Budenholzer’s first two years as head coach.

This anomaly has been an all-around team effort as Milwaukee continues lighting up the opposition from behind the arc on a nightly basis. In fact, just two players that have played in at least five games for the Bucks this season are shooting below 38.9 percent from deep, and ironically, they are brothers. Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo have never been the most prolific shooters, but the Bucks’ supporting cast has undoubtedly picked up the slack.

The Milwaukee Bucks went all in this past offseason to improve their shooting from long distance.

Despite ranking in the top five in 3-point attempts per game in each of the past two seasons, the Bucks finished 15th and 18th respectfully in percentage during 2018-19 and 2019-20. Those middle of the pack numbers did not bode well for Milwaukee in the postseason, and it was clear after their short stint in the bubble that they were going to have to add more shooting if they were going to see any future success.

General manager Jon Horst spared no expense in doing so, as aside from garnering Giannis Antetokounmpo’s supermax signature, he made it his top priority. The 2018-19 NBA Executive of the Year spent the offseason unloading their assets through trades and spending freely in free agency to acquire players that could help them space the floor. As Horst detailed in an interview with The Athletic ($$), he left no stone unturned in improving the roster with shooters.

The blockbuster trade for Jrue Holiday gave the team a reliable threat on the perimeter and the free agent signings of Bryn Forbes and D.J. Augustin. They even went all out in the draft by selecting a pair of sharpshooters in Jordan Nwora and Sam Merrill to thoroughly shore up the shooting on this roster.

Overall, the new guys have had little issue adjusting to Budenholzer’s 3-point happy style. While it remains to be seen whether Milwaukee can sustain this play through 64 more games and the postseason, they have provided some optimism in the early portion of this year. Not only is the roster deep, but it is filled nearly top to bottom with shooters.

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If the Milwaukee Bucks are finally going to get push past the postseason woes that have haunted them for two consecutive seasons, their improved 3-point shooting will certainly stand as a significant reason why. Time will tell if that comes to fruition.