The Milwaukee Bucks have used a plethora of lineup combinations to begin the season. Partly out of necessity due to injuries and partly as a plan to tinker with the roster to see who fits well together, head coach Mike Budenholzer is trotting out a lot of unique five-man combinations.
Through 19 games, Milwaukee has used 206 different five-man units. That’s the seventh-most in the NBA behind the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors.
By far, the most-used combination has been the typical starters: Jrue Holiday, Jevon Carter, Grayson Allen, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. They’ve played 127 minutes together; the next highest combination is at 28 minutes. This grouping has also been the most dominant, as they have the second-highest net rating of any five-man lineup combination that has played at least 100 minutes together this season.
With Holiday and Carter leading the attack on the guards and Lopez and Antetokounmpo protecting the paint, they are absolutely dominant on defense. Their 94.5 defensive rating ranks in the 97th percentile, according to Cleaning the Glass. Not only do they force teams to take tough shots, but they force a bunch of turnovers as well. It will be fun to see them get even better when Khris Middleton starts for Allen.
I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t give a small sample disclaimer moving forward. The rest of the lineup groups can be heavily swayed by an outlier performance in one direction or the other and it’s important to keep that in mind.
Surprisingly, their second-most used lineup is even more successful than their starters. George Hill, Wes Matthews, Jordan Nwora, Bobby Portis and Antetokounmpo have played eight games and 28 minutes together and have a net rating of 32.8 (about 10 points better than the starters). They’ve been led by some hot shooting and a powerful offensive attack centered around Antetokounmpo.
Budenholzer likes to keep one of his elite bigs on the floor whenever possible. Antetokounmpo and Lopez serve as the best of the best when it comes to rim protectors and provide the last line of defense. This means Portis is playing more power forward than ever before in Milwaukee. When not paired with the defensive studs, Serge Ibaka is out there for additional help.
The wing is where it gets trickier. The Bucks have been without Pat Connaughton for all but two games and Middleton and Joe Ingles have yet to make their season debuts. That leaves a lack of size and strength remaining on the roster.
Allen has been asked to fill that void, sliding over to the three as Holiday and Carter take on the starting backcourt spots. About half of his time comes at the three after only spending 12 percent there last season. Nwora, Matthews and rookie MarJon Beauchamp have also gotten run on the wing, but none of them have stepped up yet. Connaughton will help fill that immediate void now that he’s back.
Guard has been a lot cleaner. Budenholzer has implemented a three-man rotation of Hill, Carter and Holiday, with one of them always on the court running the offense. They can also play together, which helps the Bucks tinker with roster combinations of all types.
Antetokounmpo’s versatility unlocks everything for Milwaukee. Depending on the mismatch the Bucks want to exploit, he can slide up or down a position. If he goes to the three, Lopez and Portis provide enough shooting around him to ensure the floor stays spaced. If he moves to the five, Milwaukee has the pieces on the roster to make teams pay.
Everything Budenholzer and the Bucks do is in preparation for the playoffs. They want to build good habits and ensure they make another serious run at the NBA Finals. That also means tinkering with combinations of players to see who fits well together. That’s where Budenholzer is underrated.
Facts about the Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks are an American professional basketball team based in Milwaukee. The Bucks compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Central Division. Since the Milwaukee Bucks arrived in the league, they have had a fantastic run.
If you’re not living under a rock, you’re undoubtedly aware of how much hype the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team is now stirring in the community. With every NBA franchise, there are those moments. Moments that we all can point to that forever changed the direction of the team and for Bucks, the list is endless.
If you love watching basketball or maybe you think that a double dribble involves babies, we’ve got your guide to getting in on all the Bucks Buzz. Here are the top 10 facts about the Milwaukee Bucks.
1. Milwaukee Bucks was founded in 1968
The franchise was established as an expansion team in 1968. Milwaukee Professional Sports and Services, Inc. (Milwaukee Pro), a company run by Wesley Pavalon and Marvin Fishman, received a franchise from the NBA on January 22, 1968. A new team in a sports league called an “expansion team” is generally from a city that has never hosted a franchise in that league before.
It was created to meet the desire for a local team from a population in a brand-new location. Milwaukee came into existence because the NBA was expanding to different locations.
2. Buck’s owners held a fan contest to name the team
Milwaukee Professional Sports and Services, Inc. (Milwaukee Pro), headed by Wesley Pavalon and Marvin Fishman, was awarded a franchise by the NBA on January 22, 1968. Over 40,000 supporters took part in a fan contest to name the new team. While the Robins, named after Wisconsin’s state bird, received the most votes from fans, the contest judges chose the Bucks, a nod to Wisconsin’s official wild animal, the white-tailed deer.
R. D. Trebilcox, a fan, was given a new car for his role in explaining why the Bucks was a suitable name, claiming that the Bucks were “spirited, good jumpers, fast and nimble.”
3. The club was owned for a long-time by Herb Kohl
Former US Senator Herb Kohl owned the squad for a long period. Herbert H. Kohl is a businessman and politician from the United States. Kohl is also the previous owner of the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks. Kohl bought the Milwaukee Bucks from Jim Fitzgerald in 1985 at $18 million to keep the franchise in Milwaukee. He contemplated selling the team to former NBA great Michael Jordan in 2003 but decided to keep ownership.
On April 16, 2014, Kohl agreed to sell the Bucks to New York-based billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for $550 million. Kohl was the key figure of the lead car in the Milwaukee Bucks NBA Championship parade on July 22, 2021. Kohl was awarded a Bucks championship ring for his efforts in keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee during the 2021-22 season opener.
4. The Bucks’ primary owners are Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan
Herb Kohl, a former senator of the United States, had long owned the franchise, but on April 16, 2014, Kohl decided to sell a majority stake to a consortium led by billionaire hedge fund managers Wes Edens and Marc Lasry. The NBA’s owners and Board of Governors later authorized the transaction on May 16, 2014.
The Bucks’ three main owners are Jamie Dinan, Wes Edens, and Marc Lasry. Mike Fascitelli, a fourth major investor, owns a smaller portion. They all reside close to the East Coast. Lasry co-founded Avenue Capital Group with his sister in 1995 where he is the CEO. He’s also a former Division III basketball player who has been in the NBA All-Star Weekend celebrity game on several occasions.
Edens founded Fortress Investment Group in 1998 and continues to serve as chairman of the business after it was bought by SoftBank in 2017. Dinan who launched York Capital Management in 1991 purchased a minority stake in the Bucks.
5. They play their home games at Fiserv Forum
Fiserv Arena is the home of the Milwaukee Bucks. This multi-purpose stadium, located at 1111 Vel R Phillips Avenue, can hold hockey, indoor football, and concerts. During an NBA game, it can accommodate over 17,300 people, and the game-day atmosphere is unrivalled. It also serves as the home of the Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball team at Marquette University.
6. The team is managed by Jon Horst
From April 2008 until June 2017, Horst served as the Milwaukee Bucks’ Director of Basketball Operations. He served as the Detroit Pistons’ Manager of Basketball Operations from August 2007 to April 2008. In June 2017, Horst was named the Milwaukee Bucks’s general manager. John Hammond left to join the Orlando Magic, and Horst replaced him.
Horst took up the 2019 NBA Executive of the Year award following the 2018–19 NBA regular season. The Bucks finished the 2019 NBA Playoffs with a league-best 60-22 record and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. Horst and the Milwaukee Bucks extended their contract on June 7, 2019. Horst’s Bucks were crowned NBA champions on July 20, 2021.
7. The Bucks have won two league championships
The Bucks have won two league titles (1971, 2021). After being defeated in five games by the Knicks in the Eastern finals in 1969-70, the Milwaukee Bucks traded for Cincinnati Royals guard Oscar Robertson the next season, 1970-71. Following that, the Bucks, now in the Western Conference, completed 66-16, which was the second-most victories in NBA history at the time and is still a club record.
During the regular season, the Bucks set an NBA record with a 20-game winning streak. They won their first NBA championship on April 30, 1971, after going 12-2 in the playoffs and sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in four games. In the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs, the Bucks defeated the Heat in a four-game sweep in a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Semifinals. In the Conference Semifinals, they defeated the Brooklyn Nets in seven games, finishing with a Game 7 triumph on the road at Barclays Center.
They then defeated the Atlanta Hawks in six games in the Conference Finals to earn their third NBA Finals appearance and first since 1974. The Bucks met the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals, who were favourites after beating the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference first round. The Bucks won the NBA finals after coming back from a 2-0 deficit.
8. They are the only team to have won both Eastern and Western conference championships
While it’s been quite some time since Milwaukee Bucks experienced the NBA Finals, they did win a championship in the 1970s, when the team played in the Western Conference. The Bucks won the NBA’s Eastern Conference in 2021, advancing to face the Suns. Milwaukee is the first team in league history to win both conference titles. In 1980, the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls switched from the West to the East, trading conferences with the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.
9. The Bucks’ official mascot is Bango
Bango is the Bucks’ official mascot. Eddie Doucette, the Bucks’ long-serving play-by-play announcer, created the term “Bango.” Doucette used the phrase anytime a Bucks player made a long-range shot. When the Bucks were looking for a name for their new mascot, the name “Bango” came out on top.
Bango has been the Bucks’ official mascot since October 18, 1977, when Milwaukee opened the 1977-78 season at home. Bango’s first attire was a green wool sweater with a “B” on the front, similar to the buck on the team badge. Bango has worn a Bucks uniform with the number 68 since the 1990s, referencing the franchise’s debut season in 1968. Bango has also been a regular at the NBA All-Star Game.
10. The club has featured notable players in NBA history
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Bob Dandridge, Sidney Moncrief, Bob Lanier, Terry Cummings, Glenn Robinson, Ray Allen, Michael Redd, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are just a few of the great NBA athletes that have played for the Milwaukee Bucks.
While playing with the Bucks, Abdul-Jabbar and Antetokounmpo both won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award five times. They are both the only members of the franchise to have won Finals MVP awards.