Milwaukee Bucks: Starting lineup beginning to mesh on both ends

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks entered the season with a revamped starting lineup, and they are beginning to show just how good they can be as chemistry brews.

On paper, the Milwaukee Bucks appeared to have one of the best starting lineups in the association heading into the 2020-21 season.

With two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo headlining a lineup alongside Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Donte DiVincenzo, and Brook Lopez, the Bucks looked dangerous. Although it took some time, these five have started to show their potential as a unit 12 games into the season.

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Offensively, Milwaukee’s start to the season has been phenomenal, as they continue running up the score on their opponents nightly.

This group is clicking, and their starting lineup has been a significant reason for that as they are ranked fourth in total points at 984 while ranking fourth and third in field goal and 3-point makes league-wide.

And per, the Bucks are outscoring their opponents by +17.1 points per 100 possessions in the 122 minutes all five players have been out on the court together. Clearly, this level of dominance should not come as much of a surprise with the personnel the Bucks have assembled.

While the jump shot is still a work in progress, Antetokounmpo is still showing his dominance on the offensive end, and his co-star Middleton continues his prowess as a three-level scorer. Holiday continues to show his versatility, showing his ability to score wherever he chooses. Meanwhile, DiVincenzo and Lopez have shown improvement with their outside shooting, which has made a sizeable difference early on.

Part of this success has been the unselfishness of these five with the ball in their hands. They continue to showcase their facilitating capabilities as they sit with 234 assists on the season, fourth among starting fives. In particular, Middleton has impressed as a playmaker, currently leading the Bucks with a team-high 68 assists. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo (61) and Holiday (60) are competing for second place in this thriving offense.

The starting lineup’s offensive production has been fantastic for the Milwaukee Bucks, but the defense is also starting to come alive.

Looking at this five-person lineup, they are undoubtedly a formidable unit on the defensive end. The team’s overall defense had gotten off to a slow start in the early going, but the starters are starting to make a sizeable impact.

Milwaukee’s starters have snatched 81 steals this season, the second-most in the league thanks to some pesky efforts from DiVincenzo and Holiday. The backcourt tandem has 44 of those steals, and they continue to make their presence felt on the defensive end.

Meanwhile, Lopez continues to prove his worth on the defensive end as a premier shot-blocker, totaling 20 of the starter’s seventh-ranked 47 blocks to this point. Fresh off his Defensive Player of the Year campaign, Antetokounmpo is still showcasing his authority on that side of the ball with 13 blocks of his own.

All in all, the starting lineup for the Bucks has hit some rough patches early in the season, but they are starting to click with several top-five finishes in categories across the board. The best part of it all? They have played just the 13th-most minutes this season among starters at 1,750 total, meaning they will only continue ascending the more they play alongside one another.

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