StaTuesday: Advanced stats bode well for Bucks and long playoff run

The Milwaukee Bucks own the NBA’s best record and are the only team to have reached 50 victories.

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There are plenty of reasons for Milwaukee’s success this season, from the coaching to the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo to the role players all stepping up (and plenty of other things).

Advanced stats back up the fact that this Bucks team is no fluke.

Milwaukee is third in the NBA in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) and leads the league in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions). When it comes to net rating — the difference between offensive and defensive efficiencies — Milwaukee is No. 1 and No. 2, the Warriors, isn’t even close. There’s a larger difference between the second- and eighth-ranked teams than there is between the Bucks and Warriors.

Bucks 114.99 105.79 9.20
Warriors 117.25 110.55 6.70
Celtics 112.76 107.20 5.56
Pacers 111.72 106.54 5.18
Nuggets 114.67 109.67 5.00
Raptors 113.69 108.71 4.99
Thunder 111.26 107.03 4.23

To put the Bucks’ 9.20 differential in context, since the 1996-97 season just 13 teams have had a differential of 9.00 or greater. Of those, seven won the NBA title and two others made the Finals.

This of course doesn’t mean the path to the championship is paved for Milwaukee, after all six teams with a higher net differential didn’t make the NBA Finals and not every team who won a title had such a high differential. Nevertheless, history says it bodes well for the Bucks — if they can keep it up.

Bulls 1996-97 12.10 NBA champs
Warriors 2016-17 11.80 NBA champs
Spurs 2015-16 11.40 Lost in West semis
Celtics 2007-08 11.27 NBA champs
Warriors 2015-16 11.17 Lost in NBA Finals
Warriors 2014-15 10.82 NBA champs
Cavaliers 2008-09 10.20 Lost in East finals
Jazz 1996-97 9.87 Lost in NBA Finals
Thunder 2012-13 9.74 Lost in West semis
Bulls 2011-12 9.56 Lost in East 1st rd.
Spurs 2006-07 9.39 NBA champs
Spurs 1998-99 9.30 NBA champs
Lakers 1999-00 9.25 NBA champs
Bucks 2018-19 9.20 TBD

One key to the Bucks’ success this year which we didn’t mention above is their spacing ability. If it seems like the Milwaukee only gets easy looks or shoots a 3, well, it’s that’s not too far off.

Milwaukee attempts 38 3-pointers per game and makes an average of 13.4, both of which rank second in the NBA. The Bucks top the league in 2-point field-goal percentage (56.7) as well.

That latter stat is because Milwaukee is getting so many shots down low. The Bucks are third in the NBA in points in the paint per game (54.35) and fourth in percentage of points scored in the paint.

TEAM Points in paint / g Points in paint %
Pelicans 58.71 50.6
Lakers 56.35 50.1
Nuggets 53.32 47.5
Bucks 54.35 46.3
Bulls 48.63 46.3
Suns 49.09 46.1
Heat 45.58 45.9
Thunder 52.79 45.8
Hawks 51.3 45.7
Grizzlies 46.06 45.6

While nearly half of the Bucks’ points come from in the paint, over a third occur from behind the arc.

Only three teams are in the top 10 of both percentage of points in the paint and percentage of points from 3. Interestingly, the other two besides the Bucks are the Heat and Hawks, although Milwaukee has a higher percentage than both of those teams in the two categories.

TEAM 3-point pts/g 3-point pts%
Rockets 46.90 41.4
Celtics 38.16 34.1
Bucks 40.00 34.0
Mavericks 36.77 34.0
Hawks 37.69 33.7
Nets 37.38 33.5
Pistons 36.00 33.5
Warriors 39.05 32.9
Heat 34.74 32.8
Jazz 35.32 32.1

In case you’re wondering, the Bucks average 117.4 points per game. Of those, 94.35 per game are scored in the paint or from 3, or 80.4 percent of their points.

No reason to mess with success.

Statistics courtesy