Milwaukee Bucks: The benefits of diversifying their offense

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 25: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 25: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

‘As the Milwaukee Bucks look to learn the lessons from their recent playoff disappointments, they stand in the middle of an interesting trend taking over the modern NBA.

Heliocentrism has dominated the of the NBA and the Bucks are no different with their roster and blueprint completely designed around Giannis Antetokounmpo and his many talents. With players like Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Trae Young, among others, being unleashed in similar ways too Antetokounmpo, it’s certainly interesting to follow and reflect on how it resembles past eras.

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Taking homage to Ben Taylor’s book, ‘Thinking Basketball,’ some of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA such as Wilt Chamberlain put up historic numbers under similar usage. Yet when it came down to it in Chamberlain’s case, he ran into a buzzsaw like the Boston Celtics that were headlined by Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and so on over Chamberlain’s peak performances.

Antetokounmpo certainly doesn’t have the longevity like Chamberlain had over his Hall of Fame career, but the Bucks have had their obstacles in a similar way over Antetokounmpo’s MVP-winning seasons.

The 2018-19 Toronto Raptors team that went on to be that season’s NBA champions dug in and battled back from their 2-0 deficit against the Bucks in that Eastern Conference Finals. While the talent of both teams was equal to one another, the playing styles that defined both sides couldn’t have been more different.

And as we all know, the wall that the Raptors eventually built to contain Antetokounmpo when driving from the top of the key wound up bottling up his and the Bucks’ offense as the series wore on. As Antetokounmpo went, the Bucks did as well and the Miami Heat deployed a similar strategy on Antetokounmpo to absolutely dismantle the Bucks in the 2020 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The Milwaukee Bucks are adapting to their lessons they’ve learned in their last two playoff runs.

The formula with which the Bucks catapulted towards the top of the NBA since the arrival of head coach Mike Budenholzer looked foolproof in the regular season, only to see come crashing down in the postseason. Whether it was a matter of the defensive strategies to corral Antetokounmpo, the shooting luck of otherwise average shooters, etc., the secret has long been out as to what has thwarted Milwaukee when it matters most.

That may still be the case this season, but the Bucks, to their credit, have a wealth of options to drive their offense alongside Antetokounmpo in new star guard Jrue Holiday as well as the well-rounded Khris Middleton.

It may be some time since we’ve seen the Bucks at full strength, with Holiday having been in the league’s health and safety protocols for the majority of the month, but the Bucks have expert ball handlers to unlock Antetokounmpo’s roll man and screener potential. The two-time MVP’s usage percentage has dropped from a league-leading 37.5 percent in 2019-20 to 33.6 percent this year, per

With more opportunities for Holiday and Middleton to operate the offense with the ball in their hands only stands to dimensionalize the Bucks’ offense in ways we haven’t seen under Budenholzer. Add in Donte DiVincenzo’s secondary creation as well as Brook Lopez’s sharpshooting and occasionally throwing it back to the post, Milwaukee’s offensive weapons from what we saw last season, for example.

Only trailing the Brooklyn Nets in offensive efficiency so far this year, per, it’s clear two of the most powerful offenses reside at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Bucks shoring up their shooting deficiencies has put them in a position to battle against an offensive juggernaut like the Nets and fellow contenders in the East.

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The key for the Bucks will be able to grow and maintain their offensive diversity and not revert back to the habits of old when it comes to avenging their playoff failures. There is a lot of time between now and when their season is on the line, but maintaining their offensive diversity will be critical for the Bucks and their chase for a championship.