The offense displays a “Let it fly” attitude and has exceeded 110 points in every game.
The defense hasn’t allowed an opponent to shoot better than 45% and has held the last two opponents under 33%..
They’ve outrebounded all six opponents.
So how good are these Milwaukee Bucks?
So far, pretty darn good. Other than their one-point victory on opening night at Charlotte — a game in which the Bucks led by 20 — their other five victories have been by double digits.
The 6-0 start, bettered only by a 7-0 start 47 years earlier in team history, becomes even more impressive with the last two victories — games in which the Bucks led by at least 30 points.
Thus far, this team is easily better than last year’s model. But why?
New additions Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova have definitely had a huge effect on both the offensive and defensive ends. Lopez doesn’t get every rebound, but his size and his ability to box out big men have allowed teammates to claim a lion’s share. Last in the league in rebounding last year, the Bucks are first through six games, averaging 55.3 rebounds per game. Miami is second at 52.6. Giannis Antetokounmpo is third individually at 14.2 per game.
Khris Middleton has been a perfect complement to Antetokounmpo. Middleton in particular is thriving under new coach Mike Budenholzer and the “Let it fly” mentality. He’s making 57.1% of his 3-pointers through six games.
Three starters — Middleton (51.3%), Antetokounmpo (50.8%) and Lopez (50%) are shooting at least 50%, and Malcolm Brogdon is at 49.1%. Eric Bledsoe’s 45.3% figure is highly acceptable. The team percentage of 47.1% is remarkably solid considering they’re third in the league in 3-pointers attempted per game.
Ilyasova has led a solid bench unit. John Henson is rebounding, blocking shots and — remarkably — making 3-pointers. Donte DiVincenzo looks like a hit as far as a draft pick from the middle of the first round. Even under-the-radar free-agent signing Pat Connaughton has made solid contributions.
Yes, Lopez and Ilyasova have been major new additions. Lopez has been a weapon from behind the arc at 41%. But let’s not forget the other major off-season acquisition — Budenholzer.
He served 17 seasons as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, winning four championships before being hired by the Atlanta Hawks. In his second season, the Hawks stunned most observers by winning 60 games and earning the Eastern Conferences top seed.
When the Hawks cut costs and unloaded salaries, Budenholzer and team management agreed to part ways. Atlanta’s loss has been the Bucks’ gain.
Players have bought into his philosophies of pushing the ball and firing away from behind the arc on offense and pressuring the ball on defense,
In six games, everything has played out perfectly. These first six games may just be a hot streak, but all indications are this team can and maybe even should earn at least a first-round home-court advantage. Can it compete for a No. 1 or 2 seed? That remains to be seen.
The calendar hasn’t even turned to November yet. There are no “big games” in October. But Monday’s tilt at the Fiserv Forum against Toronto, the only other remaining unbeaten team, will be one of the more interesting October games in a long time.
How good are the Bucks? Time will tell. But so far, all indications say they’re better than expected. Maybe even much better.