How the Milwaukee Bucks’ offense is trending up at the right time

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 24 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 24 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

It is no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks have found their groove lately. They have won 17 of their last 18 games and have overtaken the Boston Celtics as the number one seed in the East with about a month left in the season.

Their defense has been stellar all season, ranking in the top three in the NBA basically since the start of the year. They also have finally started to get mostly healthy, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton playing together again and Bobby Portis coming back after suffering an MCL sprain to help out the bench scoring.

However, the one big improvement that can be seen during this hot stretch compared to earlier in the season has been their offense. Obviously missing several key players for large chunks of the season prior to the All-Star break is something that was expected to hurt their offensive efficiency, but it was still unknown for a while whether or not the offense would reach a good enough level when the team was close to fully healthy.

How the Milwaukee Bucks’ offense is trending up at the right time

Prior to the return of Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo on January 23rd (which would go on to start a 16-game winning streak), the Bucks were sitting at 23rd in the league in offensive rating, 23rd in true shooting percentage, 19th in effective field goal percentage, 23rd in lowest turnover percentage, and 18th in 3-point percentage, per

Their defense still helped them win a ton of games, but there were questions to be asked about the offense. Would having Middleton back and getting closer to full health really help their offense that much? Could they start hitting outside shots at a more consistent rate? Well, the answer to those questions looks like it has been answered.

In the 18 games since then, Milwaukee is eighth in offensive rating, seventh in true shooting percentage, second in effective field goal percentage, 13th in lowest turnover percentage, and fifth in 3-point percentage. That’s more like it.

And the defense has continued to stay incredible during that span… number one in the league in fact with a 107.8 defensive rating. The defense is always going to be elite, but the offense going from below-average to very good takes the Bucks from title contenders to title favorites.

A big reason for the offensive success lately is that Milwaukee’s 3-point shooting has gotten hot and stayed consistent. Since January 5th, they have shot over 37 percent from three in 20 of 26 games and are number one in the league in both 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made per game during that stretch. This is a massive improvement from the first part of the year when they were just 23rd in 3-point percentage over their first 38 games. The switch flipped, and they have been a terrific shooting team over the last two months.

This 3-point shooting improvement can also be seen in how often they are converting off the looks that Giannis creates for them. For a while, Milwaukee’s shooters just could not hit many shots off Gianniss passes for some reason, shooting an abysmal 29.6 percent from three over Giannis’ first 35 games when he was the one passing them the ball. That number has skyrocketed up to 44.4 percent over his last 17 games. Converting the open looks that Giannis creates with his gravity will be vital in making another championship run this season. They always get a ton of looks from Giannis, they just need to convert them.

It has been an incredibly balanced attack from outside as well, with almost everyone joining in on the hot shooting. Since January 5th, Grayson Allen is shooting 46.7 percent from three, Jevon Carter 46.6 percent, AJ Green 45.5 percent, Bobby Portis 42.2 percent, Jrue Holiday 40.2 percent, Joe Ingles 40 percent, Brook Lopez 38.1 percent, and Pat Connaughton 37.1 percent. With so many lethal shooting threats from outside combined with the dominance of Giannis, this offense should be more than good enough to compete for another title.

Even Giannis himself has started to trend up offensively. He never was really struggling on offense, but his efficiency pre-January was not at the elite level it is usually at with him. Before returning on January 23rd, his true shooting percentage was at 58.4 percent for the season, his midrange percentage was 34.7 percent, and his 3-point percentage was 24.5 percent, all much lower than they had been last season. Well, in his 17 games since then, he is at 62.7 percent true shooting, 39.1 percent from midrange, and 35.4 percent from three. It looks like he has returned to elite-level efficiency again.

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With Giannis’ efficiency returning, Khris working his way back, and the Bucks’ shooting becoming elite again, the offense is trending up. Now it’s just a matter of seeing it continue into the playoffs, and if it does keep up along with their elite defense, the rest of the league is in trouble.