What can Giannis, Bucks do for encore after improving last season?

October 18, 2017

Few teams made a jump like the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016-17. What can they do for an encore?

The Bucks increased their win total from 33 to 42 last season. Only three teams had a larger improvement -- Philadelphia (+18), Houston (+14) and Utah (+11).

One reason was Milwaukee's ability to make more 3-pointers.

In 2016-17, the Bucks shot just 34.5 percent from beyond the arc -- which ranked 21st in the NBA -- while making 440 3-pointers.

Last season, Milwaukee not only was more efficient on 3-point attempts, making 37.0 percent, good for 10th in the league, but also the Bucks made nearly double the amount -- 720. The increase of 280 made 3s was the fourth-largest improvement in the NBA last season.

Amazingly, this was done for the most part without Khris Middleton, the team's most dangerous sharpshooter two years ago, who missed the first 50 games of the season.

Middleton is part of a young corps which fuels optimism for this Bucks team. Milwaukee was just one of six teams last season which compiled over 5,000 points from players aged 25 or younger (based on age on Feb. 1).

Middleton turned 26 in August, but Milwaukee still has plenty of youth (not that 26 isn't young), including Malcolm Brogdon, last year's NBA Rookie of the Year, first-round pick D.J. Wilson, Thon Maker and, of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will turn just 23 in December.

"The Greek Freak" was one of just four players last season to average at least 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game. You might have heard of the other three: James Harden, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.

The only other player in Bucks franchise history to post such numbers is Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who averaged 30.2 points, 16.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 1972-73.

Again, Antetokounmpo doesn't turn 23 until December.

What can he do for an encore? We can't wait to find out, starting Wednesday night in Boston.

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