Bucks’ new focus on analytics is staggering

The Milwaukee Bucks have taken analytics to the next level, and it’s panning out for them so far.

The NBA is all about analytics these days, and the Bucks are playing the percentages better than any team in the NBA right now.

The Rockets revolutionized the game by putting extreme emphasis on 3-pointers, layups and dunks. This strategy got them within one game of the NBA Finals last season. The rest of the NBA is beginning to trend this way as well, and stats gathered by the basketball analytics page The Nylon Calculus suggest that Milwaukee is doing something very right.

The Bucks are making an average of 14.8 3-pointers per game, which leads the NBA. They also have the third highest average when it comes to points in the paint, recording a mark of 54.4. Milwaukee is doing its best to pull the trigger and attack the rim, eliminating the midrange shot that has become basketball’s lost art. This new-age strategy has become known as “Moreyball,” since Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was at the forefront of the movement.

While they don’t have any of the league’s elite sharpshooters, the Bucks are making the best of what they have. Six-foot-8 swingman Khris Middleton has continued to fly under the radar as one of the NBA’s best 3-and-d players. He’s made 47 3-pointers so far this season, which is the fourth-highest total in the league. He’s shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc so far, which is a career high.

Brook Lopez has always been a big with the ability to stretch the floor, and he’s been exceedingly good at it in 2018. His 41 3s rank seventh in the NBA, and he’s shooting over 40 percent as well.

However, not every player has suddenly become an amazing shooter. Giannis Antetokounmpo is easily having his worst performance from deep, as he’s shooting a hair just above 7 percent from beyond the arc. This hasn’t stopped his relentless pursuit of the rim though. His overall field-goal average is 56 percent, which bests all his previous years.

Mike Budenholzer looks like the right man to lead Milwaukee’s resurgence. The former NBA Coach of the Year was booted by the Hawks last season, but he’s been able to coach the Bucks to a 10-4 record so far. His squad trails only the 12-3 Raptors in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks have a legitimate MVP contender in Antetokounmpo. If his supporting cast can be consistent, they can use their new mentality to play with anyone.

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