Milwaukee Bucks: 3 Takeaways from the First 7 Games of the Season

Dec 18, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe (6) and center Steven Adams (12) in the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe (6) and center Steven Adams (12) in the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks are seven games into their season, and here are three takeaways from what we’ve seen from them so far.

The Milwaukee Bucks season is now in full swing after the Bucks finished their first 7 games of the regular season. With a 4-3 record, the Bucks sit tied for the 5th seed in the East.

While the Bucks have not quite dominated as they have in the past two regular seasons, it is important to note that many teams that are expected to be at the top of their conferences are off to a bumpy start. It is natural for teams to have more hiccups early on in the year with a shortened preseason, especially for a team with as much roster turnover as the Bucks. That being said, let’s look at three takeaways from these first seven games.

Improved Half Court Offense

The Bucks’ main problem in the playoffs the past two years has been their half-court offense. In the playoffs, defenses get tighter, and the intensity is up. The paint is usually crowded for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has had a hard time going against defenses that have a quality paint presence, like Marc Gasol with Toronto in 2019 and Bam Adebayo with Miami this past year’s playoffs.

The goal this past offseason was to add more talent that better suits the playoffs and talent that will make Antetokounmpo’s job easier in the playoffs.

First, the Bucks realized that it is better to avoid playing in the half-court if they can. Defenses are set in the half-court, which naturally makes it harder to score. That is why the Bucks ran only 75.5% of plays in the half-court, the lowest in the league (Stats according to Cleaning the Glass). However, when they have had to run an offense in the half-court, they have been pretty effective, as they average 101.1 half-court points per 100 plays, which ranks 7th in the league.

The addition of Jrue Holiday has helped the half-court offense greatly. He is smart, patient, and a good distributor and floor general. If the Bucks can continue to avoid the half-court offense but still be effective in it when the game slows down in the playoffs, they will be a much better playoff team.

The Rise of Donte DiVincenzo

After being reportedly included in a trade package for Bogdan Bogdanovic, the trade fell through, meaning that Donte DiVincenzo would remain a Buck. “The Michael Jordan of Delaware” has shown flashes in his first two years, but in order for the Milwaukee Bucks to take the next step, DiVincenzo must also take the next step.

So far, so good through the first seven games. DiVincenzo has been extremely effective on both ends of the floor to start the year. It looks like he is oozing with confidence, as he is shooting 55.6% from 3 on over five attempts a game. He is also putting up about two steals a game. DiVincenzo is turning into the 3 and D type of player the Bucks were looking for when they drafted him out of Villanova.

The question with DiVincenzo has never been about talent; it has been about consistency. If DiVincenzo can keep this consistency up, the Bucks will not be regretting the Bogdanovic trade falling through.

Shooting, Shooting, and More Shooting

The Milwaukee Bucks are off to a blistering start shooting the ball from the outside. The Bucks are averaging exactly 40 3-point attempts a game, which is 4th most in the NBA. They are shooting 43.6% from deep, which is 1st in the NBA. Of course, breaking the single-game NBA record for most 3-pointers in a game by a team will help those numbers. 

Overall, the team-wide shooting success has been a great sight to see. Here is the complete list of Bucks players who are currently shooting better than 38% from 3 with their number of 3-pointers attempted per game in parentheses:

Khris Middleton (5.3), Donte DiVincenzo (5.1), Jrue Holiday (5.0), Brook Lopez (3.7), Bryn Forbes (3.7), D.J. Augustin (3.5), Pat Connaughton (3.3),  D.J. Wilson (2.4), Jordan Nwora (2.0), Bobby Portis (1.9), and Sam Merill (1.0).

For those keeping track at home, that means that the only two players that have attempted a 3-pointer this year and have not shot over 38% are players with the last name Antetokounmpo. Obviously, these numbers will regress at some point. But if the Bucks can continue to have widespread success as a team shooting the ball and not solely relying on a couple of players to hit a big 3 late in-game, the Bucks will have great success.

I really like what I have seen from the Milwaukee Bucks in the first 7 games. It will take more time for the newcomers to become entirely accustomed to their role and find their spots. By the 20 game mark, this team should really find its groove and assert itself as a championship contender for the third year in a row.